President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaking at the Sri Lanka Army’s 72nd Anniversary celebrations held at the Gajaba Regiment Headquarters, Saliyapura, Anuradhapura, on Sunday said, “Establishing green agriculture in this country was something I promised. I was influenced to create a green agriculture using organic fertiliser because it was a promise that I made and also because that’s the right thing to do.” (Yesterday’s Ceylon Today (CT)) ‘Green’ agriculture is as important as having a ‘green’ environment.
A ‘green’ environment absorbs 25 per cent of noxious greenhouse gases that people produce, The New York Times (NYT) in an article published on 23 January 2019 said.
It also said, “The last time the atmosphere contained as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as it does now, birdlike dinosaurs roamed what was then a verdant landscape. The earth’s lushness was at least partly caused by the abundance of CO2, which plants use for photosynthesis. That has led to the idea that more CO2 in the atmosphere could create a literally greener planet.
Today, plants and soil around the world absorb roughly a quarter of the greenhouse gases that humans release into the atmosphere; helping the Earth, avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.
In an ideal situation, as levels of CO2 increase, plants would soak up more of these emissions, helping to fuel their growth. But in a recent study published in ‘Nature,’ researchers found that under a warming climate, rather than absorbing more greenhouse gas emissions, plants and soil may start absorbing less, accelerating the rate of change.
It is well known among climate researchers that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 increase during dry years, a sign that the earth is absorbing fewer emissions. When the soil is dry, plants are stressed and can’t absorb as much CO2 to perform photosynthesis. At the same time, because dry conditions are often accompanied by warm temperatures, microorganisms in the soil, which are more productive when it’s warm, release more CO2. As the climate changes, scientists know that there will be more years of extreme weather.
That means extreme droughts, followed by years of heavier than normal rainfall will become more likely. Pierre Gentine, a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University and his colleagues ran four different climate simulations and used satellite observations that essentially allowed them to observe photosynthesis from space.
The goal was to see the impact that soil moisture had on Earth’s ability to absorb greenhouse gas emissions. Though plants and soil could absorb more CO2 during the wetter years, it did not make up for their reduced ability to absorb CO2 in the years when soil was dry.
“Basically, carbon uptake is not a zero-sum game,” Gentine said. Even when a drought year is followed by a year as wet as the previous one was dry, it is not enough to compensate for the dry year, the researchers found. Scientists are already beginning to see more of these sorts of climactic see-saws.
As they occur, they will reinforce global warming. CT, on its yesterday’s issue also carried an article which said that the price of a ‘normal’ 12.5 kilo cylinder of LP gas (LPG) usually sold to households by State-owned LItro Gas has been increased by Rs 1,257 to Rs 2,750 from midnight Sunday. Litro subsequently partially reduced this increase by Rs 75 to Rs 1,182 to retail a 12.5 kg cylinder of LPG at Rs 2,675 a kg.
According to reports LPG has a 75 per cent market share in Sri Lanka. Prior to this increase a 12.5 kg domestic cylinder of LPG was retailed to the consumer at Rs 1,493. Therefore, this increase of Rs 1,182 is equivalent to a 79.17 per cent hike. According to the World Bank, Sri Lanka’s poverty rate as at last year increased to 11.7 per cent, from 9.2 per cent in 2019, mainly driven by the ill effects caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Meanwhile, State-owned Litro on its website said that in Sri Lanka, the overall LPG market penetration is less than 30 per cent. “Our key objective is to convert the majority of firewood users to LPG which is a cleaner fuel.” In an article published by the US National Library of Medicine under the heading ‘Biomass Fuel Use for Cooking in Sri Lanka: Analysis of Data from National Demographic Health Surveys,’ authored by Drs. Sumal Nandasena, Ananda Rajitha Wickremasinghe and Nalini Sathiakumar, said, Biomass (such as firewood) cooking fuel is the main source of indoor air pollution in the majority of households in the developing world including in Sri Lanka.
Wood was the principal cooking fuel used in 78.3 per cent and 78.5 per cent of households in 2000 and 2007, respectively, the study said. In 2007, 96.3 per cent of estate sector households used firewood as compared to 84.2 per cent in the rural and 34.6 per cent in the urban sectors. Similar trends were noted in 2000 as well, it added. The shift from firewood to cleaner fuels in Sri Lanka is negligible from 2000 to 2007.
Improving the quality of life of the population does not necessarily predict a shift towards the use of cleaner cooking fuels in Sri Lanka, the authors said. Nonetheless an overnight 79.17 per cent increase in the price of LPG only exacerbates the situation. With a high poverty rate, the President, in tandem with promoting ‘green’ agriculture should also promote a ‘green’ environment