Saturday, July 23, 2016

Montane Ecosystems – Montane Forests – Horton Plaines Future

Montane ecosystems refer to any ecosystems found in Mountains, and Montane Forest in Wikipedia is defined as: Montane forests differ from lowland forests in the same area.[5] The climate of montane forests is colder than lowland climate at the same latitude, so the montane forests often have species typical of higher-latitude lowland forests.[6] Humans can disturb montane forests through forestry and agriculture.[5] 

See details of the previous post for the context in which this entry is written and are interlinked.

In Rohan Pethiyagoda, a biodiversity scientist’s lecture recently, he pointed out how some of the aforesaid forests at the Horton Plaines National Park were in fact dying and pointed out to scientific data on extremely high levels of LEAD in a country that really does not spew out a lot of lead, leading to some concern about how the global effects of lead discharge, perhaps India, perhaps further afield, also affect our own environment, and following on from that our very existence!

The mist particles of Cloud Forests were apparently better at giving plants nutrients, but at the same time, they can also absorb effluents in the air too! This is obviously an area of concern that our scientists, must be aware of, study its effects and possible progression, and if serious get the International Communities cooperation to reverse this trend, which if anything will lead to the complete destabilization of our ecosystem before our eyes, and we can do nothing about it.

This is the very existence of our Country that we are talking about. It is important therefore for the Government to takes steps to identify the gravity of this problem, and take necessary steps to minimize its effects, or scientifically evaluate the extent of the threat and the consequences of it.

This is simply an example of the need for the use of current techniques, and new technology, to be able find reasons for the problems, suggest solutions to them, and measure the effects of the damage and map out a path of eliminating the threat.

This is a clear example of what our scientists can get their teeth into, through international collaboration. After all, those who get first class honors degrees in Sciences are snapped up by US Universities to do post graduate work. It is time they take a topic such as this, get further research funding for it, and study the effects of external factors on our environment and come up with solutions.

It is incumbent upon the Government to encourage this work, assist these students and use the brain power we already have to work for the survival of Sri Lanka.

Friday, July 22, 2016

“Horton Plaines Under Threat” – WNPS Lecture - Rohan Pethiyagoda Was delivered yesterday, 21st July 2016 @ the Dutch Burger Union

I have no intention of going through all the details of the lecture here, as a more knowledgeable write up will surely follow in time. I will merely express my opinions and recollections of what I took back with me from the event.

Pethiyagoda said that he had begun a scheme to re-plant a block of abandoned Tea Land with old growth plants, which over 20 years has shown the slow but promising awakening of a Cloud Forest, where nature takes its course, and fascinating and encouraging signs of rebirth in biodiversity (all living things) of land is taking place. He maintained that it could take 300 years to establish itself into a true Cloud Forest, which will lower the level of Cloud Cover from the present, and could assist in rehabilitating and reversing some of man’s degradation of the ecosystem.

Serendipitously, a few hours ago, on the same day, I had added the following passage to some of my thoughts to my future in this paradise, and what I proposed!

“I, whilst congruent with the above concept like to set up and work on a plan that doubles the forest cover in Sri Lanka from the present, within a 30 year time period, ENSURING the survival of the Country as we know it which is in peril at the moment. This requires working with the State to enact laws and practices.”

I was therefore at one, with the desire to conserve, not just by halting degradation, but by reversing years of de-forestation. We as stakeholders, must decide,  how we approach this, bearing in mind what the end result we target. He pointed out that an inevitable consequence of rising living standards, will be the abandonment of small scale agriculture. Citing examples of Costa Rica that had reduced their forest cover even more than we have, and who are now trying to reverse the effects of deforestation, we being a Country with more forest cover today, learn from the inevitable and take steps NOW to gradually return tracts of land to re-establish some of the land lost to degradation, without resorting to further de-forestation!

He gave the scientific and biodiversity explanations to my layman’s desire noted above, and am more determined than ever to set up some kind of plan to make it work, by education of the public, effectively to have this lecture delivered in Sinhala, which will convince the people of the desperate measures needed NOW before it is too late, and build a national dialogue encompassing the YOUTH who will be the beneficiaries of action that we take today to safeguard our environment. 

For success it has to boil down to a simple concept to take ROOT~

"Forests save lives, more forests saves the Country" - Lets do it!  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The pressure salesman’s perseverance can turn a friend to foe!

I have the unfortunate legacy of birth where 8 of my direct ancestors from distinctly different families, are in the famous book published around 1907, called 20th Century Impressions, possibly not matched by any other and had they all held on to their wealth, and managed to pass them down, I would own a whole chunk of Colombo, to say nothing of all sorts of places in the Country!

However I own not a square inch of Colombo, and the only item of value that I posses, is the property in which I live. I do not have a motor vehicle of any kind either! 

Nevertheless due to family connections, acquaintances, friends made through the years, cultivated or not, I have a huge circle of people I know, who I don’t see every day, but when we meet, we restart from where we last left off.

So when friends who are in desperate need to enhance their profession or increase their value, ask me to give them details of people I know, so they can even if I refuse, contact them and make their presentations, I am at odds as to whether I should do so. After all I have never asked these people for any favors, and if they make an offer, it is for me to accept or refuse, for my benefit and not theirs!

My concern is that if I give the pursuer their details, if that person becomes a nuisance, it is I, trying to help someone, who becomes the fall guy for the salesman’s dogged determination. What should I do in these circumstances, as I look at it from my angle. Namely, if I do not want to be hassled, why should I want a friend (yes friend and not a business partner) hassled even if he is a billionaire?

If I am honest with the person who wants the details, he will think that I am being arrogant, unpleasant, not willing to help a friend or some such, when it is simply that I do not wish my friends to be cold called, even if it may really be of benefit to them. I hate receiving calls for sales pitches, and at one time I used to receive those of my boss, as my boss was unreachable, and I sifted through information that he may have felt useful by sending a memo, which he can chose to ignore in a list of details sent to him! I don’t want to pitch for someone else as I have learned to my cost, that when something goes wrong, it is I who gets the blame for introduction, and not the person actually doing the wrong thing.

I have been told, what is the point of knowing so many people if you don’t make use of them nor allow others to make use of them. To which I simply say, I know so many and have not fallen out with any merely due to this principle. I hate to make use of those I know for my ends. I may only suggest a person for a job by way of a letter or recommendation letter, which the recipient can decide upon!   

If I sincerely believe any friend of mine rich or poor can benefit from my Counsel for whatever it is I think they wish to be helped with, then I am there for them. That is the motto by which I cultivate and keep my friends. I really have little else to offer. For most people my company is worth more than any bounty they can put on me, and for that I am truly grateful!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Heaven’s Gate – We have lost our best and brightest – Are we fighting for last place?

As each day goes by, I am increasingly coming to the realization, that the best and brightest of Sri Lanka are voting with their feet, and leaving this supposedly sinking ship, to which I after 33 years living working and contributing to the host Countries overseas, decided to return and give something back! NO THANKS, you should never have come!  is the message that comes loud and clear from the Island mentality majority who live here.

I have had to struggle with prejudice, ignorance, irrationality and most importantly a society in MORAL DECAY as evidenced in my earlier blog entry, which had the lowest hits of my numerous entries for a long while, confirming that as escapists, Sri Lankans do not wish to acknowledge the depths to which we as a society has sunk into.

What made me write this thought was that on my drive back from Minneriya yesterday, I dropped by Diya Bubula, the residence of the incredibly talented Laki Senanayake, a man after my own heart, a person who has a vision, which he creates, and the beauty that results, gives so much happiness to the lucky recipient of his creations, if it is NOT he himself! 

Even there, I met his only child a daughter who is married and has a child and has lived in the USA for decades, a talented lady. I presume she has no desire of returning and so her father only now retains life interest in the beautiful abode he has lovingly created over the last 45years.

Then further along the way, I dropped in on a distant relative I met for the first time, a retired director of Education, a Mr Wanninayake, who wants to fill in the blanks of a family tree that he has created and has asked me to give him my input into the missing links! As if I was that old to know!

Anyway his only son is married to a half Japanese girl who lives in Japan with their three children, where he currently has gone on holiday, but would eventually move to permanently.

This is the story of every ones sons and daughters, and I ask myself, Why? Why? Why? Its obvious, there are NO RULES that permit meritocracy, and in fact it is frowned upon. I am fighting a losing battle, I am afraid, but I am firmly stuck in, trying to develop a plan to reverse the environmental degradation, and double our forest cover over the next thirty years. It is possible, and I am looking to new technology to do so, including social media activism. So join me. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Society’s Moral Decay is ALL PERVASIVE

I was at a dinner last night where former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge was the guest speaker, and one thing that was clearly etched in my mind, that I came away with was how she believed that our society as a whole has fallen into a state of MORAL DECAY. Those words are still ringing in my ears, and in my attempt at getting it out of my head, I wish merely to illustrate this by using JUST ONE example of what I believe she meant by this.

Living in Minneriya in the forest, I am always reminded of the stories by the locals of how the tourist are fleeced by the Jeep Operators, who charge excessive fees, over and above that which is reasonable, and once the tourist realizes after the fact that they have been double charged, gets a bitter taste in their mouths of their whole safari experience. They will then never recommend Sri Lanka to another friend, saying that the people just cannot be trusted. Of course the fleecer does not care, and he only wants the cash for the day, as much as he can squeeze. He is simply NOT interested in the tomorrows and the day afters etc.

So on that vein, I asked heads of five of the biggest high-end hotel chains in Sri Lanka, about this problem, and quite smugly, they all said, that it does NOT happen to the tourists staying in their hotels, as they have very high standards, and they only use accredited jeeps at pre-arranged rates, and they usually also provide the services of a resident naturalist to further enhance the wildlife experience they give to their customers, be it bird watching, or other wildlife. This way they are published rates, and the tourists will NOT feel they are fleeced, and more important, they have such a wonderful experience that their friends also make this journey upon their recommendations, which is free publicity.

The problem is they have NOT investigated the actual rates paid, and the deals their own staff organize with the Jeep Owners, to supplement their own incomes. Those with the responsibility to agree rates, and use only accredited operators, ALSO resort to doing side deals with the Jeep Operators, who upon hitting certain targets of hires, receive kickbacks that are HUGE in comparison to their salaries and service charge payout they get from their employment.

These naturalists, NOT ONLY cheat their employers of money for their hotels, they ALSO cheat the tourists who they take on safari rides into National Parks, and sometimes, on the main roads, that may yield better wildlife, by over charging for the service! They are obviously also cheating their hotel bosses in Colombo too, who are blissfully unaware of what is happening under their noses. 


I am a tri national and they all face the same crises!

Having an intimate love affair with Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States, having lived in all three for a substantial period of my life, schooled,  studied and worked (and paid tax and took NO welfare)  and kept house and home, car and travel, holiday and relaxation. I even bought a new Jaguar in 1995 in Santa Barbara, California and drove across the US and took it across the pond to the UK, and drove around Europe, before taking it back across the pond to the US and drove it finally to Las Vegas!

I note as follows:

The United Kingdom

Theresa May, starts her first full day in office at Number 10 this morning, in a Country that is divided between young and old, city and country, between rich and less well-off, Brexit and Remain!

I was there at the time the UK joined the EU and believed it was the natural progression of nationhood, dropping nationalistic shackles and entering the NEW WORLD ORDER, so I was disappointed that the people followed a narrow, Nationalist Path of self destruction, with the Tories at the bottom of it.

It is now repair and remove time from Europe, and till 2020, till the next elections, the new Prime Minister will have her work cut out, and I wish her the very best.

The United States of America

The new President of the US will be installed in 6 months from now after the November 9th Presidential Election. Hilary came through a bruising battle to receive the Democratic Party’s nomination, while Donald Trump has against all logic received the nomination of the Republican Party and in the middle of gun violence in Dallas of the killing of 5 policemen and the violence in Orlando, Florida, I trust that the divisive issue will be on the Second Amendment rights, that will definitely divide the nation between Red Necks and the rest. Again a nation clearly divided with NO common ground.

I hear today, that Trump is only 3 points behind Clinton, and anything can happen, especially how Brexit showed us what Nationalism can do, and Trump is playing the same divisive game aimed at the ignorant.
Sri Lanka

We have a joint opposition that is trying again and again to raise their Nationalist credentials, which are the populist ones, which especially due to a lackluster leader of the ruling National Government is turning people irrationally to a bankrupt cause of a bunch of people who bled this Country. Those who replaced them, have not been able to get traction to show how this bleeding occurred, and the steps being taken to stop the bleeding, which are definitely UNPOPULAR as it is an unfair distribution of the pain, skewed to the poorest sections of society, with the Ruling Elite, ensconced in their Luxuries, and tax free cars and lives, at the EXPENSE of the working poor, who pay the bulk of taxes.

I am therefore on a crusade to point out how high these taxes are as a percentage of a poor man’s US$250 a month average wage, which goes for the basic food he buys, the basic phone and internet charges he incurs, and the basic costs of living with VAT on everything else he purchases too. Who is kidding whom when the Govt. says that Sugar is an essential and is not Vatable, while Rs 30 is creamed off each kg of sugar as taxes to the Government? That is an unkind blow in lying.

The population is fast dividing between haves and have nots. There is NO middle ground, with the shrinking middle class. The race card is being played to the maximum by the members of the Joint Opposition which will stoke racial clashes, instilled purely for POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY.

There are impending crises galore, which the people do not trust the existing leadership to solve painlessly! We need strong leadership, and I know the US and UK will finally have women heading their respective Executives. They will buckle down to business, but in Sri Lanka we have a rudderless leadership of impotent old timers, with NO ONE with a vision or exciting persona to be handed over the reins, where the people have confidence in their ability to produce the goods.

It is therefore the duty of the existing leaders to UNIFY this highly fragmented and divided Country into a one ‘Nationhood’ concept, where the people believe that it is the only way forward to ensure peace. I just hope the Diaspora in the guise of the UNHRC pressure, will finally desist and go back to their lives, leaving Sri Lanka to peacefully transition to a Country where ALL people are treated equally with NO ONE seeking any preferential treatment. Preferential Treatment is the root of most of the evil in Government and the sooner we learn this lesson after 70years of struggle, the better. So I hate to see progress on these issues made in the UK and US while we seriously lag behind.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Have you ever had to deal with a Bank on your terms? Not in Sri Lanka Ha!

July 13th 2016
Ms XXXX – Business Development Executive
XXXX Bank – XXXXX Branch


Thank you very much for coming to meet me at my office with your manager XXXX at your request, to see what XXXXX could offer a business such as ours.

I was disappointed by your email which was a typical heavy handed start of proceedings, requesting information which really is NOT relevant at this stage until we can assess whether the bank can even be competitive in your offerings!

Our conversation was about the banks and their high handed attitude towards businesses, who need assistance. So in order to be competitive with others, your approach should have been Servant like and not that of a beholden Master.

I would have simply wanted to know that if we were a AAA borrower, what would be the best rate available and what my payment terms would be. I don’t want to give you all the details and then you tell me later that I don’t qualify for your best rates. If you can’t give me your best rates, I don’t want your business.

I simply don’t want to waste my time supplying you with a list of confidential details even prior to knowing what you can offer. So I simply cannot send you the information you want, except to say that the ball is in your Court if you want our business and you should do all in your power to make it easy for a potential client.

XXXX said the bank has to be competitive, then it is in your interest to approach the client on the Client terms rather than the Bank’s terms, as there are many lending institutions pitching for the same account.

Enough said, I just want to know the best rate possible for a private company to lease a machine costing Rs13XXM, where Rs10XXM is financed, and the machine resale value during the whole term of the lease will never drop below Rs10XXM. If you can lend on a car without requiring all the details you asked of me, why can’t you on a far more useful product for the Sri Lankan Economy to help it grow. After all you are supposed to offer Development Finance!

Yours sincerely

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Use of Electrical air conditioning – Is it really necessary, if our construction takes into account natural lighting and ventilation?

We all know that Air Conditioning is a current killer. I am sure there are estimates of how much power is needed JUST TO RUN ACs. What we should be asking is now how many more power stations are required to cope with the increasing demand for ACs, but what we as a nation, MUST do to reduce, and in fact negate any demand for this current killer.

It is all down to marketing. Having an AC in a CLOSED room, confers status! It is all about how others perceive you, not whether you deserve AC, or if your productivity level increases because your room has air conditioning. In the Private Sector, every employer looks at his costs, and if the benefit as he measures it exceeds cost, then he will install air conditioning. THERE IS NO SUCH EVALUATION in the public sector, and so those the use of AC is not restricted, and worse, as the bills are paid, no one make sufficient effort to avoid wastage, minimize usage, reduce wastage, by making sure there is no loss of cooling etc.

One only has to go into an office of a senior Govt. servant to see how sometimes with the air conditioning at its coolest, some window here or there is open for some fresh air! It only happens in Sri Lanka.

One now needs to look at all newly built Government Offices. How energy efficient are they? Are new energy saving methods adopted? I can assure you when ANY private building is currently constructed, the owner insists on energy efficiency and now even supplementary solar panels are installed in obvious places to reduce the dependence on the Grid.

There is a failure amongst our planners, and Public Servants to realize how expensive it is and how much the people of the Country sacrifice their personal satisfaction to maintain such a large bureaucracy of Public Servants. This simple factor that the rest of the Country has been pauperized for the satisfaction of the Public Sector is NOT A COMMON ATTITUDE of the Public Sector employee.

It is incumbent upon the Government to publicize these points, beginning with the treachery that is the wastage of energy, as it is a direct cost of the people of Sri Lanka who are paying for it. If people are conscious of this fact, I am sure that energy wastage would be minimized. At a stroke the demand for power during the day would fall by the equivalent of a 100MW power station. We advertise air conditioners with full page ads. Where is the exhortation to reduce wastage? 

Don't say that it is a case of sour grapes! I am one who does not have electricity in my home in Minneriya see 

Self Interest overpowers NATIONAL INTEREST in Sri Lanka!

This whole blog is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all who live in Sri Lanka, and I try all the time, to write on concepts that will DO JUST THAT, even though sometimes, the reader may not comprehend the direction I am coming at to achieve this objective.

It was in that same vein that I wrote yesterday’s article, attacking the whole concept of the CEB Engineering Unions who have put their self interest (PAVATHMA) ahead of the National Interest, just like the GMOA, the MPs in Parliament, to name but a few of the interest groups who continue to behave in a way that will NOT improve the quality of life of those who live in Sri Lanka.

What I demand from all our citizens is that if we put National Interest above self interest, there is a definite chance that we can in a very short period achieve the status of the Country with the highest quality of life on the face of this Earth, which surely must be the objective we all work and fight for!

I know this is still a state of mind, we yearn for, and only about 100 people in Sri Lanka, of a population exceeding 20M are actually espousing. Once we achieve at least 5Million practicing this philosophy, it will make it easier to shame those who are not, and change the minds of the truly greedy, shameless, and contemptible sorts who also inhabit this Country.

At present it is ONLY PARLIAMENT and Govt. who can make a swift change to achieve this objective, as they are possessed with powers to do so. However they are NOT possessed with even an ounce of grey matter, let alone any need to make this simple transition, because it is their very existence that is then called into question. (PAVATHMA) I like the word, that explains to a T the behavior, which NO English expression or word can.

When your existence is threatened, you tend to do all in your power to prevent your impending extinction. In this case the whole existence of Sri Lanka is at stake and the people in Parliament are merely concerned about their very existence, that do not matter to the Country’s survival, at all. It can be argued, that they are part of the reason for the imminent threat to the survival of Sri Lanka as we know it, due to the decisions they take that are not just bad, but hugely destructive, and directed only at hastening the day of reckoning.

Unless their minds can change, where they prioritize their Country’s future, WE HAVE NO FUTURE! The only alternative is to replace them with other who can.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Filling the Energy Deficit! Leave it to the Consumer – CEB engineers are now the problem and NOT the solution

Much has been heard of the upcoming Energy Deficit, and daily you hear of fossilized CEB engineers, the so called experts in this field ranting on their pet projects and in typical Govt. servant leach mentality, threatening to withdraw their cooperation from technical evaluation, and procurement, UNITL they get their OWN WAY. Now they fear their survival before their useful lives end!

I am afraid their own way is the highway, and I would just ask them to put their skates on and get the hell out of here, as they are actually a hindrance to progress and an intelligent discussion on how we move forward with new technology and an ecosensitive energy policy the next 50 years.

In this debate their input or participation is surplus to requirements, much due to their own arrogance, and insensitivity to changing dynamics. Firstly the Govt. must set out a new protocol for energy that excludes the CEB Engineers and most especially their pompous union of brain dead fossils who scupper anything beyond their limited brain cells capability to comprehend. They are NOT relevant.

I implore the Government to immediately import US$100M of solar panels and sell at it at 10% of the cost to anyone who wishes to purchase them, with the proviso that within 24 months, they are put to use, either to reduce existing usage or on the basis of net metering to supply excess to the Grid. Further with the impeding battery storage technological revolution, these panels should be compatible with being able to charge the new generation of batteries, that will permit high volumes of energy to be dissipated after storage.

On this basis, the whole energy requirement of the next 5 years will be met, and there WILL BE NO NEED for a power station, that will cost a minimum of US$500M with a big whack into some Engineers pockets. No transmission lines, no usage of land for power generation, and security and location scouting, the average Joe will produce more than 500MW of energy, reducing their dependence on the grid, and so there will be no commissions, and work for the CEB engineers, and we can drop their numbers, once their productivity, and need is further evaluated.

It is clear that CEB Unions are holding the people to ransom, just like the GMOA, and it is time they are clipped to be lean and relevant.