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Asking Others

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When it comes to climate change, things will get a lot worse, before they get better. Part of the reason is the trajectory that ‘development’ has taken, as also the failure of many to accept the hard facts that science is presenting humanity. To many, the calls for adoption of ‘sustainable’ practices are looked on as an attempt to cheat the poorer countries out of their right to better living conditions. This is partly because many of those advocating changes in lifestyle and development models do so from a ‘first world’ perspective. This approach basically freezes the levels the developed world has achieved and expects the rest to cut down on consumption. It particularly overlooks the per capita consumption levels of people living in the first world and focuses more on the aggregate consumption of the developing countries.

Even the little improvement that international opinion managed to achieve over many decades has been discarded by those who represent the powerful lobby of ‘deniers’. This is simply because many of the corporations built on the older model are losing the opportunity to make easy money, are too lazy to change, or lack the managerial ability to do so. The deniers are willing to stick it out and let those suffering the brunt of climate change suffer. They believe that the process would eliminate the major burden posed by billions of ‘others’ and leave the world, eventually, in their hands. This ‘fencing out’ process can also be seen in the attitude towards immigrants, trade and technological choices.

In many ways, because of the numerous lobbyists planted in every country, the poorer countries were ‘conned’ into complying with treaties and protocols that placed reduced responsibility on the developed countries. Now that the biggest force behind international treaties, the US, is reneging, the less developed have been left stranded midstream, lacking the technology and funds to adopt ‘leapfrog’ policies, nor left with the means to leverage the old systems. So, while ‘saintly’ and ‘politically correct’ folk badger the governments in India to prevent construction of dams on the Ganga, the developed nations do not practice what they so earnestly preach.

It is in this context that concerns about climate should be focused on India’s priorities and challenges. Decisions need to be taken in a pragmatic way, based on democratically established priorities, rather than through the backdoor lobbying of impractical and unaccountable people. Indians should act first on that which hurts them most and directly. This is the only way that the worst of Climate Change can be averted.