Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Confucius and Climate Change

The weather is beautiful. The skies are cloudy, the winds are cool. The atmosphere is absolutely intoxicating. The fresh smell of rain-soaked mud, the pitter-patter sound of raindrops, everything 'perfect' in the eyes of a romantic.

Would have been perfect, if only such a weather had existed in July, rather than October in Mumbai.

2009, was declared a drought year. Cut to June- July 2009. Crops failing for want of rain, pictures in newspapers of farmers looking skywards, expectantly, all portrayed an image of the India of the 1950s. It looked rather sad, since those vivid images were a stark contrast to the image of emerging India that we generally perceive.

Cut to October 2009. A deluge in South India. A catastrophe that has not been encountered for over 100 years. Villages submerged, people dead, crops devastated, the rice bowl of India affected adversely. Before I was to leave Hyderabad, I was not too kicked about leaving behind a perfectly cool climate, to come to Mumbai, which I knew would be in her 'midsummer blues'. But I was also relieved to finally be able to travel at a time when there would be no flight delays thanks to bad weather in Mumbai. And surprise surprise, all such expectations were killed, when we were told that BAD WEATHER in Mumbai had delayed the incoming flight. All of us were stumped, since it is rather uncharacteristic for 'bad weather' to prevail in clear skies October! But then again, this whole confused weather pattern is unprecedented. Right from the frigid winter of 2007, in Mumbai, to the current rain patterns, it is bizarre! As though the Earth were screaming for help, by sending these incomprehensible signals.

And as though on cue, we have this whole impasse on the climate change dialogue. Confucius once said, " He who does not economise will need to agonize" Seems apt in the light of our current climate issues. I'd put in a post earlier (of outcomes and interests) on how expecting the emerging world to co-shoulder the climate change burden in a 50:50 manner along with the Americas and Europes of the world was almost certain to lead to a deadlock, with no amicable solution emanating thereof. And now, the UN General Assembly meeting has achieved just that, with everyone playing the penguin game - one where everyone waits for another to take the lead. In a classic case of what psychologists call 'mistaken attribution', the focus was more on WHO was responsible and WHO was not doing what was to be done, than on a clear idea on WHAT needs to be done to tackle the challenge as a global community. Here are some statistics in the map to prove why such circumlocutory behaviors are circumspect! The logic / rationale behind the developed world blaming their laggard approach on the lack of 'co-operation' from the emerging world is absolutely not justified.

The fact remains that the world is screaming for action. We need to act before it is too late. Mumbai, on the west coast of India is served by the South-west monsoon winds from June to September. Geography lessons in the lower classes had taught us that India has 3 main seasons - summer, winter and monsoon. And we also had specific months when these seasons would prevail. But imagine a classroom conversation of the future, if we don't take the cries of nature seriously -

"Teacher when do we have summer in India?"
"I can't say with certainty".
"Teacher how do crops grow?"
"Only with the blessings of God, since rains are never dependable"

What can we as the next generation do? Well, the usual stuff that we already know of, cut auto emissions, since that is the one portion of the emission story that is clearly in our hands. And on another level, we must use climate change idealogies as a guiding factor while choosing our elected leaders.

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