How extreme weather affects Sri Lanka’s safari trade

By Theo Wei Yang , CNN Written by It used to be. Burning fossil fuels took perhaps a century to completely offset global warming. Now, as climate change ramps up, it may take 100…

How extreme weather affects Sri Lanka's safari trade

By Theo Wei Yang , CNN Written by

It used to be.

Burning fossil fuels took perhaps a century to completely offset global warming. Now, as climate change ramps up, it may take 100 years.

Earlier this month, Oxfam released a new climate justice index showing just how bad climate change is for some poor communities.

The organization published the index along with research showing that if the globe fails to decarbonize this century, the damage will “appear to wipe out the gains of the last century”:

“People living in the poorest places around the world — everywhere from small island states to emerging powerhouses like China and India — will see their living standards fall by tens of millions of dollars and their livelihoods wrecked by the effects of climate change,” Oxfam reported.

It was presented in the new government climate change white paper , which states: “We must avoid a Paris 2 level of warming, equivalent to 2.7 degrees centigrade, which would mean imposing the highest levels of climate migration in human history, affecting the lives of 1.4 billion people.”

CNN Travel asked Doris Barbot, founder of Vida Sucre , a true Sri Lankan adventure guide travel company, to tell us how extreme weather has impacted their tourism industry.

Here are some of the emails Barbot’s clients have sent her about why they’re concerned about climate change:

Reverend Radha Uupari: “We do believe that the Vida Sucre is a lifeline to a lot of us in the villages of Kegalle and Matale [in Sri Lanka] … With extreme weather conditions, both natural and human generated, the safety of the area is a real and present worry, where as these persons have made a commitment to remain in their village.”

Father Richard Sean: “I think there is a fear that the increase in the intensity of natural disasters will make the safari paths in Southern and Western South Asia into washed-away roads and canals, where it is impassable.

“The governments of the six countries of South Asia — India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives — must prioritize disaster risk reduction measures and risk taking.

“They should also develop and implement community-based disaster prevention programs which will save the communities from the havoc of serious natural disasters, thus reducing their susceptibility and vulnerability.

“It is also my opinion that the government should increase the assistance budget by 50%. This will reduce the burden on the higher economic classes and will definitely boost the country’s economy.”

Doris Barbot

Avishek Bedi: “Since the arrival of my wife and young sons, we have been doing our vacation bookings regularly … We are planning a family vacation for August this year. The thought of taking our children on a wilderness safari in Bhutan or eastern India, where they could interact with other tribes or hippos, geckos and monkeys is also a little remote.

“My family and I think the people from our own villages are the most vulnerable.

“Most of the larger safari companies from Nepal and Bhutan had already started expanding their entire footprints, which is worrisome to the majority of the local community.”

‘We may have to move’

According to Barbot, some of Vida Sucre’s local clients are already finding themselves in danger.

“Just last month in the flood-hit districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka, a family member decided that they had to get out,” she said.

“As they couldn’t hold on the whole journey, the children were screaming in terror and the mother was screaming and crying helplessly … The member who left with her four children in their four-wheel-drive Jeep, ended up hiking back with them for two hours to get help.”

Barbot says that some clients have already contacted Vida Sucre asking if they will have to move in the future.

“They don’t know if the next wave of floods, as well as the rising sea levels, will be part of a new normal,” she said.

“The members of the community have already told me that this is their last vacation and that if a hurricane strikes the next six months, they don’t know what they will do or where they will go.”

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