Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Climate Change and Sri Lanka - Tourism, Recreation, Urban city planning and Human Settlement

“Climate Change” which the whole world has been molested, has become the most destructive environmental threat in the century. Today “Global temperature” has rapidly increased as a result of emitting greenhouse gases widely towards atmosphere due to human activities. There are 6 major greenhouse gases which are mentioned by “Kyoto Protocol” such as Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbon (HFCS), Perfluorocarbons (PFCS), Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These greenhouse gases which gathered in atmosphere allow to penetrate to radiations emitted by sun. When the sun rays fall on surface of earth, a portion out of them reflects towards space as infra-red radiations immediately.  Those infra-red radiations are absorbed by greenhouse gases which gathered in atmosphere. As a result of this process, general temperature of atmosphere near to surface of earth is enhanced. Without this natural greenhouse effect, life on earth could not be survived.
After the industrial revolution global warming rapidly increased since man trended to use fossil fuel mostly.  With this incident, population and economic development also ceaselessly began to grow. So today amount of greenhouse gases which are emitting due to human activities is higher than natural greenhouse effect which existed before industrial revolution since persistent development and industrial affairs.

Comparing with other developed countries, contribution to greenhouse effect of Sri Lanka is less although the climate change impacts affected to all developed and developing countries. But the challenge is that the adaptability with climate change impacts of developed countries is high than developing countries. The situation of Sri Lanka is also same. During recent rainy season, it was reported that many people have died and many are reported missing due to floods and landslides. At the same time, people in another few districts had to face to the severe drought since climate disequilibrium.

As a developing country, we have to get adapted to climate change impacts. In the same time we should try to mitigate   our actions contributing towards climate crises. With the population growth rate and urbanization in Sri Lanka, amount of CO2 which emits to atmosphere has become higher than past few years. According to this vulnerable circumstance, we have to constitute sustainable green cities with less negative environmental impacts. City planning is not just a process but a broader action which makes better life style.  Physical, Social, Economical and Environmental aspects should be focused with this process. Today our environmental components are altering as a result of climate change consequences. When we create, recreate or adjust the physical structure, Environmental components must be considered in a sustainable manner, owing to the fact that we are not able to obtain a perfect surrounding which not reach any vulnerable circumstances. Therefore, we have to adapt to the existing environment and also we must practice sustainable strategies to mitigate climate change consequences when the physical structure is created, recreated or adjusted. Furthermore planners should consider relevant rules, regulations, past records, strategies and other criterion when they create a city structure for an area which has an uncertainty with earthquakes, landslides, floods, droughts or any other environmental crises. For an instance, when a house is built at a land sliding prone area, it should be done on pillars or accordingly the slope without damaging relevant land. Occasionally certain development projects may be restricted according to the environmental conditions. The community should be facilitated without harming bio diversity in the natural environment.

When the population is rapidly grown and consumption is enhanced, amount of Carbon dioxide and Methane which emit from waste dumping yards, are also proportionally increased. Therefore, actions towards conscious consumerism, tree plantation and urban gardening such as rooftop and vertical gardening should be motivated. Hence the rainwater harvesting system or waste water purification can be maintained to watering them in urban areas. Sustainable waste management procedures such as waste segregation, recycling, composting, sanitary land fillings and bio gas  should be implemented since reducing Methane and Carbon dioxide emits are vital to mitigate climate issues. In addition we should utilize regenerating resources such as solar energy, wind and natural air instead of using fossil fuel.

Tourism industry is one of the most successful and fastest growing economic aspect in Sri Lanka today. Now both foreign and National travelers have trended towards recreations to redemption from their urban busy lifestyle. But climate change consequences are affecting to stretch and quality of tourism season and tourism operations. Unfortunately it has become a barrier since outdoor recreation is depend on the natural resource base and the weather. As an example, some ski resorts might have to close in some countries as climate issues. In Sri Lanka, higher sea level and stronger storms lead to erosion along the coast and make the beach a place with less space. There are numerous foreign tourists who are bathing sun shine at captivating coastal areas in Sri Lanka. But it will be an inconvenient habit in the near future as the temperature of sun rays is growing. As well, when the sea-surface temperature is increased, Scuba diving which is one of the most popular ocean activity that encourages the growth of tourism, will be threatened. In other hand, tourism and recreation lead to greenhouse gas emission by aviation, passenger transport, accommodation activities, higher consumption domestic products etc.

Finally if we can introduce sustainable environmental friendly development projects such as green buildings, sustainable waste management systems, remunerative public transport system, cycling and walking paths and etc., we can contribute to mitigate climate change impacts as a country. In addition, as individuals we must reduce our own carbon foot print to convey our journey towards climate justice as conscientious individuals.