1 August, 2021

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Fossil

By Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

By now the reality of climate change should be evident to most of us. The sober reality that forty years of biogeographic data produces, is seen in the disappearing populations of Pygmy Chameleons (Cophotis Zeylanica) in the central hills or by the disappearing beaches and beach ecosystems of the Southern Coast. The message is clear, there are changes happening in the environment. These changes are not and will not be benign.

According to the IPCC’s report from 2014, every decade of warming that happens, decreases the amount of food the world can produce by 2%, or 4.4 million metric tons. Heat stressed plants are not productive and increasing heat is a current feature of climate change. The global situation is so dire that President Barack Obama announced new limits on just how much carbon dioxide US power plants can release into the air, “Human activities are changing the climate in dangerous ways,” Obama said Monday. “Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.” As the world realizes the gravity of the situation, people divest in Coal and Coal. Stocks are falling and Coal mining companies are closing. Against this backdrop, the rationality of even suggesting going ahead with coal fired power plants, must be questioned.

It is a tragedy that some ill informed politicians in Sri Lanka have seen fit to follow the line expounded by the carbon emitters and polluters of the environment. Given the level of current scientific knowledge even accepting one coal fired power plant will go against the interests of the people, especially in terms of respiratory diseases. Just mouthing the word ‘development’ should not suffice anymore. Development without a clear vision of where we are heading towards, can only spell disaster for the future. Having ‘leaders’ and their ‘advisors’ without the slightest ability to comprehend the words above will ensure our demise into fossil dependency and will accelerate those climate changes that we are already facing. The coal debacle is one such potential blunder.

All reasonably informed people have seen the various scientific studied carried in the press, that coal has been a human health disaster. It provided the energy that ignited the industrial revolution, but it also carried the price of human health. In this modern day, when many healthier alternatives to generate power abound, it seems rather foolish to tie our energy future to the sinking coal wagon.

Fossil thinking on development issues were once tied to fossil energy. It was believed that development could only be attained by the use of fossil fuels. Consider this statement from Sri Lankan Government comuniqué in 1979 displayed in the nation’s newspapers states: “No oil means no development, and less oil, less development. It is oil that keeps the wheels of development moving”
Since that time, national investment in energy production for this nation was tied to fossil. This created a bloated class of fossil suppliers with fat kickbacks to those who placed the orders. This lobby is still at work influencing the ignorant politicians with promises of financial and political carrots.

Will the future population benefit from the current investment in fossil based power generation? In Coal? The answer is a resounding No. Then who will benefit? The Coal suppliers, the Coal buyers and their respective agents. Politicians, ignorant of the negative effect their decisions will have on the children of tomorrow, have surrendered our energy future to the fossil lobby up till now. We should treat this sorry past as fossil and look towards an intelligently and dynamically planned future. A new Government will grace the land soon, the question before us now is, ‘ will the new government continue on the fossil path led by the fossil lobby or move us to become a responsible global citizen by transitioning quickly into new energy technologies of today ?’

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Mr Ranil S, granted, all what you say is gospel except the last paragraph. You ask who benefits, and provide a partial answer by saying “Coal suppliers, the Coal buyers and their respective agents”.

    You may have read that the purchase of coal for the next three years was finalized last week. Who solicited the trade, and who approved the signature to the Purchase Agreements. You are silent. We know that the parasites who encourage this trade are our politicians, regardless of their hue.

    You should have said it out LOUD. Big mistake!!!

  • 1
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    Hope UNFGG, UPFA and others have one section responsible for Energy, Sustainable Development or Climate Change or similar

  • 0
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    It’s a foregone conclusion that Coal is not a good choice for electricity generation (for anyone). The problem is, Sri Lanka has little choice. What source do we use to generate cheaper electricity ?

    We certainly cant continue to pay for oil-fired generation which is marginally less polluting than coal but horrendously expensive, We have no gas-fired generators which are also expensive to build. Tidal, Solar and Wind is nice and non-polluting but the startup costs are massive. No one is going to build nuclear in Sri Lanka either.

    So the best of the bad choices we have available to us is Coal, It would have been nice if the plant had been designed with better pollution controls like scrubbers etc

  • 1
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    Ok people…. The only person qualified to lead in all things environmental is Champika!

    He got disgruntled with the Rajapaksa regime and so, defected to UNP.
    No doubt he is disgruntled with Ranil-JVP et al pact, but doesn’t know how to get out of it without losing face. Poor guy.

    After all, Ranil-JVP pact is all about using capitalistic American and Indian money for Lankans to work in communistic-style to repay the American/Indian loans (some profits to trickle to the masses…besides being appeased in having some modern-looking jobs to work for paying back the American/Indian loans).

    So! Let’s encourage Champika to join Unite Socialist Party (UPS). Upon the condition that our N&E coastlines are patrolled with armed forces (and settled with their families), USP will very nicely work within the ability of the masses, while giving greater devolution to the dammed Northerners who are clamoring for more (as now are coastlines will be secured from the Tamil Nadu scourge).

    Tamils will be of course “encouraged” to learn Sinhalese as 2nd language, with English, the language of the former Bourgeoisie.

  • 0
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    Unfortunately the robots of the west cannot think for themselves. Essentialy RW and MR and their henchman think alike.They can only think from a western mindset. If we had observed our own principals from the patina samupadaya none of this would have happened

  • 0
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    Climate change is one of the chief dangers faced by todays society. The presidents stance is comendable. The Developed World that has squandered this asset should pay. Technology and funding is neccesary to maintain our priceless bio diverse assests. Kataragam,Anuradapura,polonaruwa and kandy have to be developed in a holistic manner. Being one with nature brings tranquility and peace to our nation.

  • 0
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    well thought and stimulating article. We are walking the critical path of the balance of nature and if we ignore the warning signs it will be at our own peril. Most Scientist around the world have continued to make very clear revelations about the impending dangers and the negative effects of the loss of species, the balance of nature, the effects of uncontrolled pollution and the eventual extinction of life in all forms. The symptom of greed that is part of capitalism is the main destructive element. They will never stop to realise , how long it took evolution to bring life and humans to existence. On this even the gods will not help us as we are undoing with a seemingly vengeance , what they have created.

  • 0
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    There was a time when the younger generation was very vocal about climate change. Not anymore. When they want the dad to replace the 30″ TV with a 60″ digital TV which consumes far more power, or a power hungry air conditioner the arguments are all but forgotten.

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