India must prioritise the transition to energy sources that do not upset the natural balance
- The PM’s inaugural address at TERI World Sustainable Development Summit has again brought to the fore the discussion on equitable energy access and climate change
Shaping Planet’s destiny
- James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis - posited the inter-connectedness of nature
- Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen - warned that chemical effluents were altering the planet’s atmosphere and causing harmful climate change feedback effects
- Humanity is in the Anthropocene era and is like a geological force that is shaping the planet’s destiny.
Changes to global climate & its effect
- Man’s embrace of agriculture, the dominance of wheat and rice as food crops and the clearing of forest tracts caused the first major large-scale changes to global climate though their effects were apparent only over centuries.
- Atmospheric changes due to the dawn of the Industrial Age and the use of fossil fuels happened in a blink of an eye.
- What is common to both these eras is that those who suffered the most are the poor or those with the least agency to shield themselves from a perturbed nature.
- Uttarakhand saw an avalanche of rock and ice destroy two hydropower projects and cause deaths.
- The geology of the Himalayas makes the region inhospitable to large mega-engineering projects and the several floods, landslides and earthquakes over the years have underlined this time and again.
Protecting planet or people
- While the earth rearranges itself, it does so in a manner that can be destructive and lethal to those least responsible for causing the disequilibrium.
- Thus, if “fragile” were to mean a brittleness needing care, then it is people and animals that need protection than a vaguely defined ‘planet’.
What lies ahead
- India will continue to fire coal plants, raze forests for industry and build roads in fraught geology — in other words, put the lives of millions of the vulnerable at climate risk in the pursuit of economic development.
- India’s commitment to net-zero is set decades into the future at 2070.
- India, given its size and population, will be disproportionately vulnerable.
- It must accelerate and prioritise the transition to energy sources that are minimally perturbing to the natural balance
- Because planet, which may be in a form incomprehensible at present, will long outlast its current residents.