hough the United States isolationist President Donald Trump and his business associates are cynically dismissing climate change as a hoax, reality is hitting many parts of the world and at the recent G-20 summit of rich countries, Mr. Trump found himself isolated 19-1 with even Russia and China agreeing strict measures were needed to implement the 2016 Paris climate change accord. They will all attend a climate change summit in Paris later this year and if Mr. Trump’s administration decides not to attend, it will be a case of “America alone” and not, “America first.”
Poor or developing countries are suffering the most from the effects of climate change. In Sri Lanka we are going through one of our worst-
ever droughts, largely because of a major change in weather patterns as a result of climate change. According to latest reports, the whole of the Northern Province and more than 10 other districts have been devastated by the prolonged drought with the Jaffna District being the worst affected. In some areas, though local authorities are reported to be sending bowsers of water, some vultures are alleged to be selling drinking water at Rs.300 for 500 litres. Reports say that in the affected districts millions of people have little or no fresh water for drinking, cooking, basic sanitation and other needs.
With so many people going through such a desert experience, we need to be aware of our sacred responsibility to conserve water. At a personal and family level, there is much we could do to conserve water besides giving all possible assistance to the Government and other agencies, providing much-needed relief to the suffering people.
Some institutions and households have regulated their taps so that water does not gush out fully. Even otherwise, as eco-friendly and responsible citizens, we need to be sensitive and should not open taps fully when washing our hands or utensils. We could open the taps halfway or even less and close them when applying soap. When washing vegetables or fruits, rice or other grains, we could collect the used water in a container and use it to water the plants in our gardens. Our shower bath times could be cut down by five minutes. In these and other ways if every responsible citizen could save about 10 litres of water a day, then the countrywide saving could be about 200 million litres a day. Indeed, little drops of water make the mighty ocean-though this popular saying also has been polluted with eco-scientists warning that by 2050 the oceans may have more plastic bottles than marine species. Millions of silli silli bags are also thrown into the ocean, prompting food experts to warn that big fish consume some of this plastic or polythene. So when we consume big fish we may be consuming a little polythene and giving it to our children also.
What we need to remember is that climate change will eventually affect all, and we should act in a responsible way before we also are left without drinking water and suffer from the other effects of climate change. Up to now most of us have realized the value of tap water only when there is a prolonged water cut. Now climate change is sounding alarm bells across the ocean. Some families and institutions have even gone to the extent of installing equipment for rainwater harvesting or to divert water from the bathroom to the cistern in the toilet. These are sacred or noble steps at a time when a wicked and selfish world is polluting the water, the air, destroying our forest cover and upsetting the delicate eco-balance in nature. At a government level there needs to be a national campaign to restore our ‘wewas’, long admired as marvels of ancient engineering. In 2004 the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, when it was a partner in the Government, announced a comprehensive plan to restore some 10,000 wewas.
President Maithripala Sirisena last week launched a programme to restore tanks in his home base in the North-Central Province. This needs to be done in other provinces also and if millions of responsible citizens join in the mission of conserving water and stop wasting it, then we would be taking a big leap or splash towards addressing one vital area of climate change.