Though divided on many issues, the National Unity Government is to stay together at least till 2020, largely for the survival of the two major parties though there will also be benefits for the common good of the people.
Thankfully the UNP and the SLFP have no disputes on one major issue -- the restrictions on the use of plastics, silli silli bags and polythene lunch sheets, though some polythene producers protested this week. Over the weekend, media reports said that from more than 50,000 multi-day trawlers fisher-folk are known to be dumping into the ocean tens of thousands of plastic water bottles. They probably are not aware of the calamity they are causing.
The Fisheries Ministry needs to educate them on global warming issues and also help find alternative means for them to carry drinking water. On this issue the Government also needs to educate schoolchildren and other sections of society. These programmes could be conducted in schools and at peak time on State television, cutting down on tele-dramas which are popular and profitable though they have little more than entertainment or gossip value.
The devastating magnitude of the global warming catastrophe was again spotlighted last week.
Scientists first discovered a soup-like rubbish patch of plastic floating between Hawaii and California in the 1980s. But decades on it appears that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch might not be the only one. According to reports, scientists have found yet another collection of marine debris and they say it is about the same size as Mexico.
Nestled between Chile and Easter Island in the South Pacific, the new patch is a collection of small plastic fragments that are tricky to spot with the naked eye. It comes as seafood lovers were warned that they ate 11,000 pieces of toxic plastic every year.
The South Pacific patch was uncovered by a team of researchers and volunteers led by Captain Charles Moore during a six-month voyage aboard the ORV Alguita ship. “We discovered tremendous quantities of plastic,” Capt Moore told Research Gate. “My initial impression is that our samples compare to what we were seeing in the North Pacific in 2007, so it’s about ten years behind,” Capt. Moore said.
Capt. Moore, who has spent years raising awareness of plastic pollution since he saw the North Pacific patch while captaining a racing yacht in the 1990s, believes the patch could be more than 380,000 square miles. Patches like this form around rotating ocean currents which are called gyres. The term “patch” referring to the plastic pollution in oceanic gyres can be misleading. The pieces of plastic are not necessarily floating bottles, bags, and buoys, but tiny pieces of plastic resembling confetti, making them almost impossible to clean up. These microplastic particles may not be visible floating on the surface, but in this case, they were detected after collecting water samples on Capt. Moore’s recent six-month expedition to the remote area that had only been explored for plastic once before.
Henderson Island, located in this South Pacific region, was recently crowned the most plastic-polluted island on Earth, as researchers discovered it was covered in roughly 38 million pieces of trash.
The problem of plastic pollution is becoming ubiquitous in the oceans, with 90 per cent of sea birds consuming it and more than eight million tons of new plastic trash finding its way into the oceans every year.
With such a calamity facing us, the Sri Lanka Government needs to take top measures to prevent pollution of the ocean around us. If we destroy the oceans, we will be destroying ourselves. Recently the Government took major steps to convert garbage or solid waste into electricity. Some contractors are using 5-litre plastic bottles filled with silli silli bags as part of their building foundation along with cement and sand. Similar creative, innovative and imaginative measures need to be reflected on, not only experts but also by families, to stop or reverse the dangerous trend towards global warming.