While fires in Australia continued to destroy thousands of hectares of forest and kill millions of animals trapped inside and out, in snow- covered Davos Donald Trump and his naysayers sang the same old song. To them climate change and the impending dangers to the planet from man-made activities were hyperbolic nonsense propagated by sections [...]


Killing the world with their song


The Bellanwila elephant as seen in the video clip widely circulated in the social media

While fires in Australia continued to destroy thousands of hectares of forest and kill millions of animals trapped inside and out, in snow- covered Davos Donald Trump and his naysayers sang the same old song.

To them climate change and the impending dangers to the planet from man-made activities were hyperbolic nonsense propagated by sections of the scientific community and their panic-driven supporters.

Trump dismissed all the scientific reports and the writings of knowledgeable persons calling them the “perennial prophets of doom”. It does not matter to him whether there is climate change or not as long as he can rake in the shekels and sooner the better.

As has been firmly established even before Trump entered the Oval office he is driven by two priorities, both of personal interest. He loves POWER and MONEY. All else such as making America Great Again is only a slogan to mislead America’s poorer and less educated classes who want make America White Again. That is a historical untruth for America was not ‘white’ ever.

These are slogans that Trump will constantly use if they help him achieve the first two objectives. There he was in Davos at the World Economic Forum beating his chest and telling the participants what a great man he is, for he has put America back on its feet.

Yes he has put America back on its feet so that one day it can turn round and kick him in the posterior. Not because he has lied as he does often enough. It is because he has defied all the evidence that climate change is happening and it is happening faster than it was earlier predicted.

It is because of the actions of major countries such as the US, China, India, Australia and some others that it is occurring faster and more precipitously, endangering the lives of millions of people across the planet.

Are they to be the victims of avaricious leaders like Donald Trump and their corporate friends who could not care a toss about global warming and climate change as long as they are in the counting house counting all their money?

Oh they will join in some efforts at mitigation like planting trees at one end while sawing the timber at the other or in another country. This might look to those who are planting trees to control carbon emissions a virtuous contribution to save the planet from destruction. But they do not see that elsewhere the same old tree planters are destroying forests in some other place.

Those in Sri Lanka have for years been exhorting the people and various organisations to plant trees and resurrect the denuded hectares. While such efforts are laudable and give politicians a chance of being seen on television trying to save a world — or at least their constituency where the votes are, but how successful have they been.

This is not to belittle efforts by organisations and private groups genuinely concerned about the need for urgent action to revive the ecosystems and clean up the environment. But they are handicapped by the lack of sufficient resources to keep going because sustainability is a key to success.

So if politicians step into the breach, let it be for genuine reasons and not for the television cameras. Let them continue to participate when the cameras are gone.

Sri Lanka’s forests are disappearing, its trees are being felled and its waterways are blocked by destructive rubbish like plastic bags and poisoned by industrial waste. Its river and sea sand and soil are dug and transported elsewhere for the mudalalis to make their millions often with the help of politicians and officials.

This is not all that is happening to destroy what little we have left. Our wildlife is disappearing too. It is reported that last year 361 elephants were killed by man or man-made machines. Our elephants are an endangered species. They are majestic beasts. But does that concern poachers? Of course not! If they were, they would not be shooting, poisoning or killing them by other means.

But it is not only the elephants in the wild which are being ill-treated by man. Recent video clips that show the treatment meted out to domesticated elephant has aroused much concern and even anger among the public.

Just the other day I received a clip of an elephant at the Bellanwila Temple lying in what was said to be a murky pool, with its rear legs chained to a tree. It was said that one of its carers was beating the animal with sticks.

But a spokesman for the temple denied these assertions. He was quoted as saying to the Daily Mirror that anyone was welcome to come and see the elephant. “We would like to call upon any doctor to examine and see whether there are any injuries on the jumbo”.

That, of course, was a generous enough gesture and meant to convince the concerned that the elephant was not harmed. But at the end was a comment I am still trying to unravel.

“It is still a 13-year old elephant. Even children are punished when they do notorious activities.”

If my understanding of that remark is correct, the elephant was being punished for some “notorious” activity. Pray what was this notorious act that brought on this punishment? So if it was being punished, then the observation of those who circulated this video that the animal was being beaten with sticks appears to be correct.

It might be recalled that a 70-year old elephant named Tikiri was pulled out of participation in a perahera after pictures of this emaciated animal widely circulated caused outrage among people. The animal’s skeletal bones were so visible that it evoked shock by those who saw the pictures.

A couple of weeks back there were pictures of a leopard which had been killed and its fore legs severed.

Our leaders and some who like to be leaders never tire of referring to Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country. Calling it Buddhist is a far cry from practicing the Buddha’s teachings. Calling oneself a Buddhist does not necessarily make one a Buddhist. .

That applies to some of those who have undertaken the holy task of teaching the Buddha’s words and practicing them.

Yet the way we treat animals, whether domesticated or from the wild, is a sign of how compassionate and civilised we are. After all, animals cannot convey their needs, their pain. They have emotions too and they suffer as do humans except animals have nobody to appeal to.

Our politicians and do-gooders proudly recall our 2,500 year old history and civilisation. What on earth is all self-glorification for if we cannot treat animals with the kindness and understanding they deserve.

It is for the government to help by tightening the laws relating to animal welfare and well being and deal with offenders in an appropriate manner. If we cannot treat animals with the compassion that they deserve how will they treat their own kind.


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