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D-Day for environmental justice - EDITORIAL

29 November 2015 07:42 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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oday is perhaps the most important D-Day in the history of the world. As more than 130 world leaders -- inspired by the exemplary leadership of Pope Francis -- meet in Paris for the 21st Climate Summit.

We are confident this D-Day would not lead to doom or disaster but to a day of destiny for a turnaround and transformation, whereby, individually and collectively we become just towards Mother Nature and Planet Earth.

Hopefully this new spirit of selfless, sincere and sacrificial service to each other, to all creatures big or small, to the trees, rivers and other manifestations of nature, will lead us to a new age. Such an age is symbolically portrayed in the imagery of where the bear will be gentle, the wolf tame, the lion shall lie down with the lamb and the beast of the wilds shall be led by a child.  

Such imagery is also portrayed in the United Nations headquarters where we are told of a new age where swords shall be turned into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, though the modern day version may have to include nuclear energy also being transformed from sources of destruction to sources of sustainable, eco-friendly developments based on the values and virtues of a Just Society.     



President Maithripala Sirisena, who as Minister of Environmental Affairs has pledged he would personally lead Sri Lanka in the battle to save Mother Nature, will also be at the Climate Summit in Paris, going there directly from Malta where he handed over the office of the Chair of the 54-member Commonwealth to Malta’s Prime Minister.

The tropical Sri Lanka has been blessed with six major rivers, canals, streams and marvels of modern engineering, more than 10,000 Wewas which have unfortunately  been allowed to go waste, though we often quote our great king Parakramabahu’s immortal words that not a single drop of rain water should be allowed to go waste without being used for the common good of the people.

Sri Lanka has also been blessed with a sea all around us and hundreds of marine species. In addition we have hundreds of varieties of nourishing and tasty fruits and vegetables. We need to be thankful for all these, for every new born day where we can do whatever work we are doing with commitment, ingenuity and creativity. We need to be thankful and grateful for the sun, moon and the stars, the air that we breathe, the sweet fragrance of rose petals  and a multitude of other things -- bright and beautiful, great and small -- most of which we often take for granted.

Instead of being thankful and grateful for the glorious beauty and benefits of mother nature, we are indiscriminately polluting the air without measuring our carbon footprints. During the past 40 years especially, we have polluted mother earth mainly through the excessive use of highly expensive and imported agro-chemicals, some of which are toxic. These have also polluted our ground water and rivers. Selfish and wicked traders have also polluted and are continuing to pollute most of the vegetables and fruits and grains that we eat by using various chemicals during cultivation and toxic preservatives during marketing. As a result, most of our fruits have become forbidden fruits like the symbolic forbidden apple and our innocent children who relish these may be swallowing poison every day.

In the equally vital energy sector we have in recent decades allowed ourselves to become dependent on coal power which has been identified as a major source of carbon emissions. Though we have several huge reservoirs such as Victoria, Castlereigh and Laxapana. Much of that water goes waste in the regular periods of excessive rain or excessive drought caused by climate change and unpredictable variations in our weather patterns.

Thankfully the new National Government is focusing attention on alternative eco-friendly sources of energy such as solar power and wind power.  As for agriculture, the government is also quietly but gradually encouraging farmers to turnaround to organic, regenerative and sustainable farming without imported agrochemicals -- though the government appears to be for some reason afraid of transnational companies. Essentially what we and the world need is environmental justice and we hope the political and other leaders will listen and act according to what the prophets of environmental justice are telling us.
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