Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 28 April 2013
One of my favourite cartoons on energy is one drawn years ago by Australian cartoonist Ron Tandberg. It shows two men standing on a bare land, looking down at the ground. One says to the other: “There must be a source of energy down there!”
Overhead, meanwhile, the sun looms large and blazes away.
As we reel from the latest energy shock – delivered by the state owned electricity monopoly, the CEB – I wonder whether all 20 million of us have become like those two narrowly focused men.
How can our tropical island plug into the sun, wind, trees and the ocean to meet more of our energy needs? Why don’t renewable energies produce a larger share of our energy mix? Who or what are the bottlenecks?
In this weekend’s Ravaya column (in Sinhala), I ask: are there real cities in Sri Lanka that embody liberal values and distinctive identities that cities – both in the East and West – have. If not, what are our urban areas? Over-built neighbourhoods to which residents have transplanted their village mindsets — including feudalism that is rampant in our villages?
But there is limited awareness of the man and his creative accomplishments in Sri Lanka, his adopted home for over half a century. I wrote a book (in Sinhala) last year introducing Arthur C Clarke’s scientific ideas and visions for the future. This year, I have started chronicling how he wrote science fiction.
The first such article appeared in Sunday Lakbima, a popular Sinhala broadsheet newspaper, on 21 April 2013. Here is that text, which is not easy to locate online as they (and many other Lankan newspapers) use mini-blackholes to publish their web editions…
Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 21 April 2013
I enjoyed the mid April traditional New Year holidays for a very practical (and selfish) reason.
When much of the country shuts down, traffic congestion on Colombo and suburban streets disappears, as do crowds in most public spaces. For a few days, we natives of Colombo and suburbs have our city for ourselves…
Curiously, though, many friends and colleagues pity me for not having a village (‘gama’) to return to. When one called me ‘rootless’, I protested. Born and raised in Kotte, just south-east of Colombo city, I’m attached to the place. My roots are just as real as anybody else’s…
A city-dweller’s loyalty to her place of origin can be just as authentic as any villager’s. Sadly, this isn’t widely appreciated in Sri Lanka where too many urbanites harbour real –…
I have devoted another weekend column in Ravaya newspaper (in Sinhala) to celebrate the memory of the illustrious Lankan journalist, editor and development communicator, Tarzie Vitachi (1921 – 1993). This time, I talk about his time at the United Nations, first as communication chief at UNFPA, and then as Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF.
Environmentalist friends — with whom I frequently disagree — faulted me for not once mentioning climate mitigation, or actions to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
A couple of activists were also miffed that I didn’t get on their bandwagon of demanding global climate justice for historical emissions from industrialised countries. (Sorry, but that one is full of recycled hot air…)
Some felt that I had kept my analysis too much at the macro level, ignoring micro (or community) level measures. As I see it, the challenge is to keep ‘zooming in’ for detail and ‘zooming out’ for better perspective. Scattered action without a coherent vision is wasted effort.
Uttareethara (The Greatest) is a biographical documentary series produced and broadcast by HiruTV, a privately owned, commercially operated terrestrial TV channel in Sri Lanka.
Uttareethara profiles — through interviews and archival imagery — the lives of outstanding writers, artistes, scientists, filmmakers and others who left their own mark in the public space in Sri Lanka during the past few decades.
This episode (No 16), first broadcast in September 2012 (and since then, repeated several times) is about Sir Arthur C Clarke (1917-2008), who lived in Sri Lanka since 1956 and became a Resident Guest of the Indian Ocean island in 1975.
It features interviews with: Hector Ekanayake, Managing Director of Underwater Safaris Ltd, long-standing friend and business partner of Sir Arthur; Journalist and former editor Edwin Ariyadasa; communications specialist Dr Rohan Samarajiva; Clarke’s principal Sinhala translator S M Banduseela; amateur astronomer and scholar Fr Dr Mervyn Fernando; tourism specialist Renton de Alwis; and cancer researcher Dr Kumari Andarawewa (via Skype).
At the station’s invitation, I presented the one-hour show and also did several interviews.
Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 7 April 2013
As Sri Lanka sizzles in April heat, some ask: is this due to global warming?
Well, not exactly: high temperatures are typical for this time of the year. At the same time, meteorologists confirm that average temperatures in Sri Lanka have risen by almost one degree Centigrade during the past 70 years.
Global warming accelerated by human activity is now scientifically accepted. The UN’s climate panel (IPCC) predicts that global average temperatures could rise by somewhere between 2 degree and 6 degrees Centigrade by 2100. (And we thought this is too hot!)
The big challenge for most non-specialists is: how can we discern climate change impacts that unfold slowly over time and in many different ways?