Amid warnings of power cuts, the temperature yesterday afternoon reached more than 35 degrees Celsius or 95 degrees Fahrenheit—perhaps the hottest days in our history and direct result of global warming and climate change. Generally, until there is inner spiritual liberation, human nature is so self-centred, that we don’t have much concern for major social issues until they directly affect us. That is what is happening now and in a sense it might be an inner journey from darkness to light.
Giving some hope, like a spring in the desert, the Meteorological Department said there could be thunder showers today in several parts of the country. According to the latest figures issued by the United States based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) —better known for its moon landings and space explorations -a dramatic surge in the Earth’s surface temperatures took place last month, with the biggest month-on-month rise in global warming on record.
While some of the temperature rise has been put down to the large El Nino event currently coming to an end in the Pacific Ocean, scientists repeated their warnings that the global climate system was now being strongly influenced by human emissions of greenhouse gases, especially by the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, the Independent online website reported.
February was the hottest month on record and 2016 is heading to become the hottest year on record, hotter even than 2015, which had itself set a clear record over previous hottest years. NASA said that February 2016 was not only the hottest month ever measured globally, at 1.35C above the long-term average, but that it was more than 0.2C warmer than January 2016, which itself had held the previous monthly temperature record.
On Monday, in the aftermath of Sunday’s power failure -the worst since 1996— the Power and Energy Ministry appealed to Sri Lankan citizens to conserve electricity. Doing this would be an enlightened act of patriotism, much more valuable than the pseudo patriotism of extremists. Citizens could go green and become eco-friendly by switching off unnecessary lights or electrical appliances.
The air-conditioning systems in offices, hotels and other places could be reduced to 24 degrees Celsius, while other practical energy saving steps need to be taken by managements and individuals. As the Daily Mirror said in its editorial yesterday the Ceylon Electricity Board could also give a package of incentives and discounts for households, offices or shops that significantly reduce their electricity usage. From yesterday, on President Maithripala Sirisena’s orders, the Armed Services provided full security for about hundred major power stations amid reports that some extremist elements may be indulging in sabotage. Anyone who did this would be guilty of treason.
Patriotic citizens also should be more mindful of the need to conserve fresh water. Our country is blessed with several major rivers, while some prosperous Middle East countries do not have even one. We need to be thankful for this blessing and also be aware that just as some powerful countries have gone to war in a bid to gain control of oil and natural gas resources, they may also go to war in the coming decades to gain control of fresh water resources.
There are many ways in which we could conserve or stop wasting fresh water. When opening taps for the washing of hands or utensils they should be opened only half way to save water. We could also cut down on our shower bath times.
If each citizen could save about ten litres of water a day, the national saving would be about 200 million litres —little drops of water that make a mighty ocean.