ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28

Beware! our coast is shrinking rapidly

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Seventy percent of natural disasters in Sri Lanka are associated with weather and climate phenomena. Fifty five per cent of the coastline is continuously affected by an erosion rate of 0.3 metres a year. The rise in sea level as a result of a high rate of coastal erosion will have a lasting negative impact on Sri Lanka, more so because it is an island sate.

These points were revealed by Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka at the launch of the Human Development Report 2007/2008 “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World” held on Thursday. He said that costal zones are the most vulnerable to climate change, which will see the inundation of low lying coastal areas including tourist resorts and shoreline retreats. He said intrusion of salinity and loss of coastal habitats will have irreversible impacts for which some adaptation responses need to be developed urgently.

The report warns that due to global warming more than 332 million people in coastal and low-lying areas world wide would be displaced through flooding and tropical storms, up to 400 million people face the risk of malaria, 1.8 billion people face water stress by 2080 with large areas of South Asia and northern China facing grave ecological crisis due to glacial retreat and changed rainfall patterns and breakdown of agricultural systems consequent to increased exposure to drought, rising temperatures and more erratic rainfall, leaving up to 600million more people facing malnutrition.

Sri Lanka with o.743 was ranked 99 out of 177 countries in The Human Development Index (HDI), which measures the average progress of a country in human development. The report also warns against neglecting the challenge of adaptation. It also draws attention to extreme inequalities in adaptations capacity. Rich countries have invested heavily on climate-change defence systems, with governments playing a leading role. By contrast, in developing countries “people are being left to sink or swim with their own resources,” writes Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, in the report, creating a ‘world of adaptation apartheid’.”

The report urges rich nations that are responsible for global warming to act fast by cutting emissions by at least 80 percent and invest in adaptation and clean technology for poorer countries.

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