‘Climate Change’ – a Sri Lankan Perspective.

Prof. Ajith on CC

The Summary of discussion at the forum held on the 21st of July 2007, at the British Council on ‘How importantly should Global Warming figure in development agendas of developing countries’ with a focus on Sri Lanka.

Introductory presentations

The event started off with an introduction to the event from Gill Westaway, Director of the British Council Sri Lanka. Gill mentioned about British Council’s ongoing effort to raise awareness among the public about the risks posed by climate change. She mentioned that although Sri Lanka as a country has many issues on to be dealt with, the country is not exempt from the issue of climate change and she emphasized the need for action, stemming especially from young people.

The introduction was followed by a presentation on Youth Yatra, the project from which the event stemmed from.

Yatra was an EU funded project for young people managed by the British Council along with partners in Finland (Finnish Youth Cooperation Allianssi), India (Swechha We for Change Foundation), Sri Lanka (Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement) and the UK (UnLtd). This project brings together 24 young changemakers from Finland, India, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom to go through a practical, professional, personal, reflective and active journey on issues of sustainable development. Three Members from Beyond Borders – two from BB Sri Lanka and one from BB India – participated for the project.

The presentation focused on the learning from a personal point of view from each of the Yatra participants from Sri Lanka. The presentation was delivered by Poornima Weerasekara.

Climate Change in Sri Lanka.

Professor Ajith De Alwis (Head -Department of Chemical & Process Eng., University of Moratuwa) spoke on the risks posed by climate change on Sri Lanka. Following is a summary of the points he raised:

  • Young people and people in general can’t be ignorant of issues, and that the 21st century demands us to be more informed of the changes that are taking place.
  • According to some experts, Jaffna, and other places is in the north and eastern provinces, and Matra in the southern provinces is in danger of being underwater due to sea level rise caused by global warming.
  • The ‘piece of land’ which is at the focal point of the current armed conflict in Sri Lanka may not be there, in a few years time if the predictions are true.
  • Loss of solid productivity is one of the main environmental problems in Sri Lanka and the problem of soil erosion, will be further aggravated by climate change. This will have far reaching implications for agriculture sector, among others.
  • Climate change will also increase the risks of malaria, and chikungunya outbreaks.
  • Sri Lanka hasn’t played a significant role in creating the problem, and similarly what we can do to mitigate the problem is also small.
  • Despite this, we stand to suffer from it, especially adding on to problems we already have of poverty and conflict. Imposing climate change issues on top of this will have disastrous consequences.
  • There are policy issues that need sorting out, for example the CEB (Central Electricity Board) incurs a loss of Rs.50 Million daily – enough to build a rural hospital a day.
  • Sri Lanka suffers from power inefficiency.
  • Despite this, most important thing is not to be appalled by the problem, but instead understand if fully and solving it bit by bit.
  • Time magazine chose the century’s greatest people. No.1 was chosen as Albert Einstein, next was Mahatma Gandhi. Both science and values are important, and with the correct balance of the two, you can change the world.
  • You have to practice what you preach, walk the talk, and like Gandhi said – you must be the change you want to see.

End of part 1. The next part would focus on the actual open forum discussion. If you have anything to add on the issue, please use the comments section below.


Posted on 07/31/2007, in Events-Activities-Announcements, India, Opinions, Sri Lanka, Youth-Culture-Society. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. ‘awarness’ maybe an issue in Sri Lanka. But here in the UK, its not. there’s almost too much of awarness!. if i get a penny every time they say ‘climate change’ i ‘ll be a rich man.

  2. Meant to say ‘awareness’ 🙂

  3. //You have to practice what you preach walk the talk and like Gandhi said – you must be the change you want to see. //
    Alright. Alrigh. Climate change is bad.
    Now what? What are the suggestions?

  4. That’s always the difficult question. I don’t think anyone has a perfect solution, to be quite frank.

  5. Identifying the problem and trying to improve the awareness is the first step. Solutions…mmm..industrialised countries must start thinking about it seriously. They should think about practical solutions…not stupid talks like china and india should reduce the usage washing machines and dishwashers.

  6. In the Western countries there is a kind of “awareness” but especially in America it is an awareness from the perspective of the large polluters that have created the problem and now are trying to profit off of it through various schemes like cap-and-trade and other market mechanisms. The mainstream of science agrees that a temperature rise of over 2 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial level can lead to a “tipping point’ in the climate that could have dangerous, even catastrophic and uncontrollable consequences. However the large polluters across the the industrialized world are set to continue emissions at an unsustainable pace. Fossil fuel use is expected to increase into 2030. In the meantime they will flood the corporate controlled airwaves with so much “climate awareness” that people will get sick and tired of it and get desensitized to the issue. All the while the ExxonMobil’s, BP’s, Chevron’s and other big polluters will be making a killing in superprofits from emissions trading and other scams. Not all that glitters is green.

  7. Only solution is a complete transformation of the present political economy. Capitalism whether in its American form or its Chinese form has created the problem. It is not just a climate crisis but a crisis of the social order. Anthropogenic climate change is the product of a system that puts “accumulation” before all other values leading not only to massive ecological disruption but also massive inequalities in access to wealth, power and information. The solution begins with the replacement by the majority of the worlds people of the current system with one based on international cooperation, an economy based upon human needs and ecological balance. This means the small issue of taking power away from the Fortune 500 and the political classes that rule in their interests. In short a Revolution. It’s either that or we condemn our children and other species on this planet to massive destruction through catastrophic climate change.

  8. That’s quite Utopian, Manjula. I don’t think even the most die-hard crusaders of climate change like al-gore calls for the kind of changes you are proposing. This goal of the green political movement of turning human kind to the dark ages without these evil machines is quite frankly silly and only justifies the claim that the green hysteria created by climate change prophets is little more than than a banner movement for socialism.

    I’ve written more on this here .

    So far the only achievement of climate change hysteria is to contribute to the world food crisis and have poorest of the poor go hungry.

  9. Manjula, I completely agree with you!! I know it’s extreme, and I know that hardly anyone’s willing to accept it, but the truth is we need a radical change! It’s not just climate awareness – people have to tear their eyes away from their TV screens and all the other forms of entertainment that society is blinded by these days and really take a look at themselves and the world we’re living in. We need to stop believing everything our governments tell us and start searching for the answers ourselves. Of course I don’t think that enough people know this yet for us to oust the people who’ve essentially colonized the globe, but the more we spread the message, the better.

    And Deane, even socialism won’t solve our problems. That’s why we need something more. And what are those ‘evil machines’ you were talking about? Do you mean technology? If that’s the case, then I have nothing against technology. It’s just their efficiency and how we use them that causes the problems. For more information, you can watch these video/documentary things called ‘The Zeitgeist’ and ‘Zeitgeist Addendum’. I found them mind-blowing the first time I watched them. It’s all about society and how much we’ve been lied to and so on. Seriously, watch them.

  10. Thats some significant piece of writing

  1. Pingback: [Video] Climate Change in Sri Lanka « Beyond Borders Sri Lanka

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