21 January, 2021

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Coping With A Changing Climate

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

A recent report issued by the UN Development Program, the Global Environmental Facility and the Government of Australia, evaluating the preparedness of Sri Lanka to deal with Climate Change pointed out the a lack of “awareness about climate change impacts on the livelihood among farmers and local government officials, especially those engaged in water management and agriculture extension”. This is not the first warning; we have had plenty of time to deal with this need. An article titled; Climate Change’ published in 2011 asked of the outcome of the Durban meeting that our climate change experts went to:

“While awaiting to hear of the brilliant contributions that Sri Lanka has made to the just concluded United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), conference in Durban, the view from Durban is somewhat clouded. The global polluters are demonstrating extreme disdain of accepting any responsibility they have to the rest of humanity who share a common atmosphere with them. The unilateral move by Canada in withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, a move endorsed by the fossil energy industry, demonstrates how much public interest has been eroded from political enclaves.

The UNFCC itself is a lame duck, it is still unable to recognize or identify the difference in value of carbon originating from biotic sources and fossil sources. This fact is commonsense; that while a diamond, petroleum, a lump of coal, piece of wood or piece of fruit is comprised of carbon, they are not the same, and they have different values. So in burning them up we have to recognize the value (cost) of each. The carbon dioxide that emanates from them by burning is also different. The carbon dioxide from biotic carbon will always have the carbon isotope C14, while carbon dioxide from fossil carbon will never contain C14. In time, the differences are in millions of years. This much is common knowledge, most high school children are already aware of these facts. Then why has the UNFCC chosen not to ‘see’ that there is a value and temporal difference between biotic and fossil carbon cycles? A cynic might say that many are in the pay of the energy industry. But, what about our Sri Lankan scientists who attended Durban? Surely they will never sell out to the energy industry! Perhaps they have already identified these fundamental structural flaws within the UNFCC and we might see this stand reflected in their reports.

In the meanwhile, apart from the innumerable conferences and workshops that we could have, what should we do in Sri Lanka? This question has come sharply into focus with the news that Russian scientists have discovered hundreds of plumes of methane gas, some over 1,000 meters in diameter, bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Methane is about 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Dr.Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences stated in a recent interview “ Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of meters in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 meters in diameter. It’s amazing.”

All this points to the need for immediate action. Landscapes are slow to respond to rapid changes. The effect of the increase in storm force was apparent all last year. By now we should have had some national adaptation strategies. Yes, there has been a plethora of conferences around the subject, but what do I do if my drinking water runs out? What do I do if there is salt intrusion into my field? How do I deal with sudden windstorms? If the years spent on discussing adaptation had borne any fruit, we would now be seeing public education programs on climate change preparedness by now. “

Sadly, today, in 2016 we have the UNDP stating that in Sri Lanka there is a lack of “awareness about climate change impacts on the livelihood among farmers and local government officials, especially those engaged in water management and agriculture extension”

It is now patently clear that we will face a scarcity of food as the global temperatures rise. Chlorophyll, the primary material of life begins to denature as the 39degree threshold is passed. We are already witnessing 40 degree plus temperatures in many nations with the probability of exposure times increasing (fig 1). Should we not have been conducting tests on heat resistant crops or adaptive landscapes ?the-effect-of-a-shift-in-the-mean-temperature

Compounding the hypocrisy that is being foisted on us. There is the spectacle of Sri Lanka signing the Paris Accord to keep global temperatures under control by limiting out carbon output while gleefully promoting the construction of mega cities with no concern of their carbon footprint. When we consider that for every ton of concrete we emit 800 kgs of CO2 and every ton of steel is responsible for 1.2 tons of CO2, who has reported on the increase in CO2 emissions by this giant city building exercise? If the climate change secretariat has failed to account for both the construction and operational CO2 costs of construction in Sri Lanka, we would be cheating in our international obligations.

The impact of climate change is serious, there is a universal need to be educated and prepare for the consequences. We have been very delinquent in this regard as stated by the UNDP study. Hiding our heads in the sand will not make the problem go away. Increasing our carbon footprint in the name of ‘economic development’ is certainly an act of shooting ourselves in the foot and increasing the impact of climate change!

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    Dr Ranil Senanayake

    RE:Coping With A Changing Climate

    “The UNFCC itself is a lame duck, it is still unable to recognize or identify the difference in value of carbon originating from biotic sources and fossil sources.”

    How many years did it take the Catholic Church to recognize that, it was the Earth, not the Sn that goes around the Sun?

    The data is everywhere.

    The ice in Greenland is melting. The Inuit Eskimos have a hard time living the way they were loving because of melting and drifting ice.Where goes the water go? The oceans. Maladives and Colombo will be under water when all the ice melts,the sea levels will rise by 211 feet, 64.4 meters, and Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, will be smaller. Have you tgought of buying ocean front property Kadugannawa?

    On Thin Ice: Inuit Way of Life Vanishing in Arctic

    Published on Jan 16, 2015
    On Thin Ice: Inuit Way of Life Vanishing in Arctic

    NBC’s Ann Curry reports from Greenland, providing a rare glimpse of Inuit hunters facing a rapidly changing way of life in the Arctic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UYNpbG0-_k

    • 0
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      Amarasiri;
      Take an example from Noah!
      Start Building your ARK – TODAY!

  • 1
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    We Sri Lanakans believe that our Gods manage our climate.

    Even in the developed nations, they are struggling to manage the weather and climate?

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    Amarasiri

    “it was the Earth, not the Sun that goes around the Sun? “

    In the 16th century,this was a mind boggling dispute. the theory of relativity has settled this dispute once and for all.

    Both are correct!whether “it was the earth that goes round the sun” or “the sun that goes round the earth”both are correct

    Every body-matter in the universe is in motion. the sun moves round the earth relative to earth and earth moves round the sun relative to sun.

    The great Bertrand Russel had said he final word on this dispute and hence it is no longer a dispute!

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      Sri.Krish

      “it was the Earth, not the Sun that goes around the Sun? “

      Actually what I meant was “it was the Earth, hoes around the Sun, not the Sun that goes around the Earth? “

      These were possible because the Age of reason and enlightenment.

      Anyway, the Earth, the other planets and the Sun goes around the center of gravity of the Solar System in elliptical orbits. Since the Sun has most of the mass, this center of gravity is close to the Sun, and the Sun takes about 30 days or so. The elliptical orbit of Mercury is affected by the Space-Time curvature due the high gravity of the Sun, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and Kepler’s elliptical Laws of planetary motion had to be corrected for this effect.

      The Sun in somewhere in the middle of the Milky Way, and it moves and takes about 225 million years to compete one rotation around the spiral galaxy.

      This really confuses the religions and religious texts such as Joshua stopping the Sun. You know the story of Galileo, because he tried to teach the Heliocentric Model of our Solar System.

      If took a long time for the Catholic Church that both the Church and Joshu were in error. Still 34% of the Europeans believe that the Sun goes around the Earth!

      How long will it take the Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils and other Paras to accept that they are Paras in the Land of Native Aethho?

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    Climate change is the writing on our wall. If we heed it we can repair our Temple and avoid the fate of Babylon. If we don’t, we, too, fall.

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