Climate Change in Social Vaccum

Apropos 'No more kindergarten approach to climate' (Down To Earth May 31, 2007), the current politics of climate change entails keeping society and social sciences religiously out of the climate change research from the very outset till date. Therefore, climate change debate suffers from paucity of social perspective. Until and unless this missing link is fixed there is no way to break the stalemate.

The UN Security Council held its first-ever discussion on climate change as a serious threat to security and future political stability on April 17, 2007 that created so much heat that Indian Parliament was compelled to discuss climate change in early May 2007 although Indian society does and did not deem climate change to be a problem of utmost priority since it is grappling with agrarian crisis and farmers suicides as its pressing priorities. It is clear that Indian parliament was under tremendous international pressure to adopt climate change as its problem. Isn't absence of similar pressure to discuss farmers suicide both at national and international level quite manifest.

Let all the members of all the legislative bodies of the world in general and Indian ones in particular use the ongoing suicides of farmers as the touch stone decide their action from a bundle of competing priorities. If they have failed to take cognisance of the immediacy of agrarian crisis afflicting the farmers, it only shows how divorced they are from the people who they claim to represent. They are following the dictates of not their own people instead they are pandering to the likes and dislikes of the veto power holding members of the Security Council. Although no action emerged from these Security Council meeting or other meetings, it does reveal growing uneasiness within the capitalist world about social unrest that is likely to come with global warming.

Notwithstanding stark differences between US and Europe on climate change issue, it is a fact that both treat climate change as a global security issue as opposed to human security. The US report, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change", undertaken by the government-funded national security think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses presents global climate change as a serious national security threat, which could impact Americans at home, impact US military operations, and heighten global tensions. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, president of the Security Council said. “There are few greater potential threats to our economies ... but also to peace and security itself.”

World Food Conference 1974 in Rome titled “World Hunger: Causes and Remedies” proposed technical solutions like Green Revolution, transfer of technology and population control for the food crisis which had proven failures over several decades. Now the proposal to mitigate possible adverse climate change includes solutions like “a major expansion in nuclear power, the use of GM crops to boost biofuel production, and reliance on unproven technologies…” gives one a sense of deja vu.

It has put the UN's climate group on a collision course with those who argue that simply replacing one set of technologies with another set of technologies won't work, especially when there are such big downsides with some of them. Nuclear reactors are dangerous and land clearance and chemical pesticides and fertilisers used to grow fuel crops can cause huge environmental damage.
At the upcoming negotiations in Bali in late 2007 on the post-2012 framework for addressing climate change when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires, it is high time India and other developing countries rejected mechanisms like Joint Implementation, Emissions Trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, until equal per capita entitlements are accepted.

Indeed the danger of limited debate and consciousness is that they can be easily captured by vested interests. Climate change is too serious a 'business' to be left only to governments to make it the top most priority with ulterior motives. It is these interests who linked poverty to population and turned it into an ongoing 'family planning business' under the dictates of these very veto powers who are currently asking India to take obligatory commitments for emission cuts to combat global warming while paying lip-service to public transport and land use change induced global warming due to indiscriminate urbanisation and mega hydro power projects.

P.S: US and China together are the biggest violators but there is a highly Irrational, Mischievous and Motivated tendency to club India and China together in the entire global warming debate. This must be dismissed with all the strength .


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