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Stop grumbling about the heat, do something - EDITORIAL

18 March 2016 11:59 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Stopping the waste of electricity and fresh water while reducing carbon dioxide emissions are some of the ways in which Sri Lanka’s citizens could cooperate in the make or break battle against climate change. As citizens do this, the National Government needs to urgently workout long-term plans to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions and discover renewable sources of clean energy. 

This mission needs to be given the highest priority in the wake of last December’s Climate Change Summit in Paris where the leaders of some 200 countries agreed to act urgently and effectively to save Mother Earth from an environmental catastrophe created largely by a selfish, recklessly greedy and wicked world system. President Maithripala Sirisena, who is personally in charge of environmental affairs has pledged that Sri Lankan and foreign experts would be consulted in working out the plans to win the battle against climate change. 

United States President Barack Obama, now in his final year and thus working sincerely for the next generation and for a place in world history books, has announced a comprehensive clean power plan whereby the US would give global leadership for this mission. 

According to the White House, the clean power plan sets achievable standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030. The White House says the plan will protect the health of American families. By reducing carbon dioxide which is an invisible killer, in 2030 it will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks in children and 300,000 missed workdays and school-days. The figures may be relatively similar for Sri Lanka. 

The plan is expected to boost the US economy by leading to 30 percent more renewable energy generation in 2030, creating tens of thousands of jobs and continuing to lower the costs of renewable energy. It will also save the average American family nearly $85 a year on their energy bills in 2030, save enough energy to power 30 million homes and save consumers $155 billion from 2020-2030. Sri Lanka also should aim for similar targets.

There are also public health threats associated with extreme weather. Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and diseases carried by food, water and insects. 

In the US and other countries, Carbon pollution is the biggest driver of climate change.  Global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise. Climate scientists say we need to avert an additional 2-degree temperature increase to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make businesses more competitive and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. “Science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind…those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it—they’re busy dealing with it,” President Obama has said. 

This week Sri Lanka conducted a big seminar in Singapore to attract foreign investments. Among the lessons Sri Lanka needs to learn from Singapore today are the encouragement and incentives given for the setting up of green schools, green buildings, green residential apartments, hotels and other places. Most people have been made aware of the need and value of going green, becoming eco-friendly and discovering or upgrading energy-saving devices. 

Since the vision of this climate change battle is to revive a safer Mother Earth for the next generation, it would be wise to begin eco-education as a priority subject in schools. Children learn not only from books but also from what is done in schools. Some of the Singapore schools use solar and wind energy, they have their high-tech recycling bins to turn waste in to something valuable and even modern methods of rain water harvesting. Our King Parakramabahu the Great, practically taught us this lesson centuries ago but we did not bother to learn. Hopefully we will learn now. Just as it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, we need to stop grumbling about the unbearable heat and the mysterious power cuts. Instead we need a paradigm shift to turn around and start doing something to restrict climate change -- individually, collectively and as a country. 

 

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