Rising sea levels could shrink coastline

Science and Technology Minister, Professor Tissa Vitarana warned that rising sea levels would cause severe upheaval, and as already identified, the Maldives would be submerged. Coupled with these facts, he said Sri Lanka too would be subject to rising sea levels. ‘When’, not ‘If’ that happened, it would be that coastal areas would be invaded by the sea.

"We need to re-locate most coastal areas and towns, including Colombo to higher ground. This will have to be seriously considered. The entire landscape will change", he noted.

He said the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gasses by 5.2% is now being blatantly disregarded. The reduction in greenhouse gasses, being an area of intense concern and commitment at the Copenhagen conference last December, has been literally relegated to non-starter status.

He said conspicuous lack of concern to the urgency of the Copenhagen Summit on Global Warming was largely a ‘Look away’ attitude adopted by the first world, and the consensus was that nonchalance seemed to be the order of the day.

Dr. Vitarana was speaking as the chief guest at the ‘Communicating Science on a Global Warming Planet’ at the British Council last week.

Eminent explorer, BBC presenter and public speaker Dr. Paul Rose who was in Colombo on a lecture tour including Sri Lanka and India also participated in the event.

The panelists included Vice Chairman University Grants Commission, Professor M. T. M. Jiffry and senior lecturer, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr. Jayantha Wattevidanage. The discussions were facilitated by Nalaka Gunawardene, Director, TVE Asia Pacific, Science writer and broadcaster.

Dr. Rose who had concluded an Antarctic expedition few weeks before his visit to Sri Lanka, said evidence of global warming was growing in geometric progression and alarming consequences would be felt world- wide.

He said multi-year–ice formation is steadily causing a melting-down phenomenon and in sequence resulting in changing sea levels. ‘Warming Planet’ phenomenon was progressively getting to be an unavoidable circumstance resulting in occurrences that would overtake the planet and desultory perspectives are that the plunge to disaster would not be merely speculative but certain.

He said there are critical questions on climate change that would need intense urgency if it is that thwarting disaster is to be compulsory rather than optional.

The ice layer built over periods ranging from 60 to 70 thousand years is now gradually melting leaving in its wake the melting cycle of the ice cap causing eco-disaster globally, he warned.

Dr. Vitarana said as passing the Kyoto protocol was disregarded and the non-commitment at Copenhagen compounded an already growing disaster cycle seemingly unavoidable.

"It is now mandatory that individual governments resort to voluntary commitment to reduce greenhouse effusion by 2050, and maintain sustainable development for effective controls to stop rising sea levels. Rising levels of greenhouse gasses and addressing this problem could not be over stressed".

He said desertification of the Africa was expanding.

The panel discussion centered on the impact on Sri Lanka and it was that although its placing in the Indian ocean had hub status for trade, its insignificance in the larger concept of global warming is still at a low level in importance.

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