Sri Lanka faces threat of global warming

Sri Lanka is ranked second in terms of the countries most affected by extreme weather conditions in the past 20 years, according to the Climate Risk Index 2019.

Published by Germanwatch, the index lists Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka and Dominica as the top three affected countries. It has analysed data from 1998 to 2017 to observe the extent to which countries and regions have been affected by weather related events and calamities such as storms, floods and heatwaves.

Although climate change is an immediate concern for Sri Lanka, many Sri Lankans tend to perceive it as a distant problem. Rising temperatures and frequent heatwaves are a testament to the seriousness of this issue. It is not something to be taken lightly especially since the Sri Lankan economy depends on climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry and energy production.

According to a 2013 report in The Guardian, “in the next 55 years, the greatest threat to Sri Lanka will be not from war but from climate change. Sri Lanka is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and weather related disasters have the potential to set back any gains made in agriculture, fisheries and even services such as tourism.”

In terms of what can be done about it, education and public awareness are deemed essential to bring about change. Government policies and programmes can go a long way in mitigating environmental pollution. Taxes and subsidies for instance, can be adjusted to influence behaviour. Moreover, climate change should become part of the political debate, and businesses must take the initiative to lead and invest in a climate smart future.

Whereas a number of organisations are already working to spread awareness and help deal with the problem of global warming, a change in scale is required.