There are lessons we must learn from every cataclysmic event. Our priority MUST be to lessen, minimize or eliminate such tragedies in future. We have also had to contend with Global Warming, El Nino and La Nina effects, and they also add to unusual weather patterns that result in human devastation and suffering. Through it all we have all been shown time and time again, that the respect for our Environment is paramount, if we are to plan for a sustainable future effectively.
So with all of the above, why have we NOT changed our behavior patterns? There have been distribution of hundreds and thousands of water bottles (non-biodegradable plastic) to people as an act of Charity by individuals and organizations. We know drinking contaminated water is a sure start to a waterborne disease spread, and as the shelf life is long, drinking water is a human essential, gifting this and thinking nothing of it is the best urgent flood aid.
Let me leave aside the measures to be taken to reduce the likelihood of floods in future by removing illegal structures, removing people from flood prone areas, and providing them with alternative housing, and such like, and concentrate here merely on changing householder behavior to improve their own individual contribution to reducing flood damage. This needs the support of course of the local authorities, like the local Pradeshiya Sabha in the removal of waste in an ecologically friendly manner.
I shall call it behavior modification, and awareness of our own culpability in aiding and abetting floods.
The TIME IS NOW FOR A NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN OF RECYCLING AND AWARENESS OF WASTE DISPOSAL AS A MAJOR FACTOR OF THE ESCALATION OF FLOODS
As I mentioned earlier let us begin with knowing how best to dispose of the empty water bottles. Improper disposal of these by just throwing them in heaps will ADD TO A FLOOD SITUATION, and is ironic if that happens due to the relief given in a flood, being the reason for an even greater disaster in future.
The City of San Francisco has BANNED the use of disposable water bottles due to the environmental impact it causes. So let us begin by asking our local council (Pradeshiya Sabha) of implementing a return system of this plastic to a central location with a payment of say 25cents per empty bottle, returned!
They will have a system of immediately crushing it within their premises, prior to disposal to an accredited purchaser, who would use it for some other purpose that is carbon neutral and a profitable business venture.
Let us then do the same for plastic bags, another huge menace being distributed with flood relief, also about to fill up drains and clogg up waterflow adding to future flood situations.
We talk about generosity of our people when tragedy occurs to help out those us in need, as was shown recently. Can we not use this same theme to appeal to the recipients of that generosity to dispose of non- biodegradable waste in a manner that is prescribed? Local councils MUST be complicit in this contract, by supplying receptacles, arranging for pick-ups, preventing fly-tipping which is another consequence of flood damaged goods being disposed of.
You can see from the above, that NOT ONLY FLOOD RELIEF but also, disposal of waste from the flood are matters of equal importance both to build awareness of why floods are caused, and how we can alleviate man’s contribution to worsening of the floods.
There is STILL a distance from who or what causes the flood to who or what is damaged as a result of the floods. Somehow it is NOT the same people they believe. No one at this stage who is suffering the effects of flood damage, would accept they had any hand in it AT ALL.
It then all boils down to AWARENESS, EDUCATION, BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION TO INCLUDE LESS USE OF NON BIODEGRADABLE PRODUCTS, PROVISION OF RECEPTICLES FOR DISPOSAL OF NON RECYCLABLE WASTE, and a community spirit to help each other out on these matters, as benefitting the whole community.(eg. no one will fly tip at their neighbor’s empty property, creating a health and other hazard later)
In my case, if I know where I can safely dispose of within 5 km of my home, used LED bulbs, broken glass, empty plastic containers, used tins, used batteries, electronic and computer parts, plastic wrappers, unwearable used clothes, I will save them up and go at least once a month to dispose of them cleanly there. I will NOT expect a pick up. However for those without the transport capability, the local council MUST arrange a once a month pick up of such separately sorted, to make recycling and disposal more convenient for all parties.