Davos Development Dogma And Climate Catastrophe: Leaders Are Unconcerned

global warming earth

Only few remain in denial of global warming (GW) leading to climate change (CC). At the other end of the scale, only few view GW-CC as an impending disaster. Leaders of societies and nations are among the bulk of in-betweens, and their understanding of GW-CC mostly remains limited.

The Davos development dogma

The focus of attention and planning among world leaders, is development by economic growth. This dogma is reaffirmed annually at the Davos World Economic Forum, amidst insincere commitments to SDGs, carbon emission reduction, mitigation measures to minimize GW-CC effects, and adaptation to GW-CC conditions.

The larger view of global changes on a time-scale to which most forms of life will be unable to adapt biologically, is expressed unvarnished by IPCC. These science-backed warnings are drowned by the noisy, aggressive march of the industrialization behemoth.

The focus on economic growth, keeps People in the peripheral field of attention and intention. This tunnel-vision of the Davos dogma is a kind of social-economic glaucoma. It fails to detect that:

# The complex social-economic-political structures of human societies, are part of and dependent upon the global ecosystem.

# Promoting the economic growth dogma is responsible for GW-CC.

# Human societies are engaged in conflicts within and between themselves, because of the downstream effects of the dogma.

The tunnel-vision of leaders of some countries which are committed to reducing carbon emissions, is evidenced by their aggressively promoting industrial expansion by flagrant flouting or circumventing social and environmental laws. This impacts numerical majority People at the low-end of the socio-economic spectrum.

Economic growth through industrial activities inside forest areas, such as mining, constructing roads, pipelines, electricity transmission lines & buildings, tourism, etc., is the double-whammy of ‘development’, because industrial activities accelerate GW-CC, and forests, which slow GW-CC, are destroyed.

Industrial expansion requires finance. When finance is not available, governments hold Global Investors Meets to attract investors. They are assured land, power, water, tax-benefits, etc., to enable them to finance, or establish and operate industries. This again, ultimately is at the cost of health, welfare and education of People at the low-end of the socio-economic spectrum.

People and economic growth

When People who are adversely affected by loss of land, habitat and livelihood, due to industrial expansion speak, governments view it as unacceptable resistance to ‘development’. These conflicts of interest between People and the State, are rarely if ever addressed by political means, and have led to:

# Social unrest and conflicts within and between societies,

# Imposition of State force upon People (FIRs, Police action, military deployment under AFSPA, etc.) to suppress protest and dissent, and

# Judicial system overload due to litigation, with state or central governments as one of the litigants.

The nature of economies

Every economy is comprised of several sectors of economic activity. The major sectors are industrialized mining-quarrying, oil-energy production, transportation, banking-finance, commerce-trade, manufacturing-production, agriculture, services, etc.

These sectors are socio-economic structures, which are dependent upon the environment. In a global perspective, economies along with their industrial sectors, are all subsystems of Earth’s complex ecosystem.

Economies function based upon continuous year-on-year consumption, and irreversible depletion of natural, environmental-ecological and social resources. This results in corresponding year-on-year increase in environmental pollution, and resource-base degradation of land, ocean and atmospheric air. The cumulative effect of air pollution by GHGs over decades, is the cause for GW-CC.

Earth’s ecosystem

In the time-span of just one century, gaseous wastes, especially CO2 – 36.4 billion tonnes in 2021 alone – and methane, have upset the millennia-old dynamic global balance between incoming solar heat and heat re-radiated into space. This has resulted in unprecedented increase in land surface and ocean temperatures, and raised the average global temperature.

GW has affected natural geosystems, such as thermo-haline ocean currents, air currents and seasonal circulations in the atmosphere. These have led to shifts in weather and climate, affecting various forms of terrestrial and oceanic vegetative and animal life.

Earth’s ecosystem is simultaneously the (depleting) source of materials and resources for economic growth, and the (overflowing) sink for disposal of wastes of industrial activity and the exhausted end-products of every industry.

Davos-style economics

The economic growth dogma is based upon increasingly drawing resources from the environment, producing more industrial goods and services, and encouraging more consumption. The characteristics of economic growth are:

# It is perpetual and consumptive,

# It is centred on science and technology as the intruments, and

# National economies and the international economy are debt-based, because money supply has to increase for economic transactions.

It is not difficult to understand that such economic growth is devouring its own environmental/ecological resource base (natural capital), and disastrously impinging on Earth’s ecosystem.

Climate emergency

The United Nations [Ref.1], serious writers and even social media users are using the term “climate emergency”. As a global emergency transcending national borders, it is the defining crisis of our time. GW-CC are manifesting as extreme events [Ref.2] like severe storms causing floods and landslides, droughts, uncontrollable wildfires burning down vast swathes of forest on all continents, desertification, and polar ice melt.

Rise of sea level is not readily apparent, but scientists predict abrupt rise of sea level, especially following the impending collapse of the Antarctic Thwaites glacier [Ref.3], and disappearance of large volumes of Arctic ice. Sea level rise will impact coastal communities worldwide, and force large-scale human population migrations within and between nations. This will affect all nations and societies, by stressing resources and initiating or intensifying social unrest and conflicts, and create geopolitical problems.

The unrelenting march of the Davos dogma is transforming the world in unintended ways. We must hope that before it is too late, world leaders will gain the understanding that GW-CC is the consequence of unremitting, unthinking pursuit of development by economic growth. Are we already in the midst of cascading collapse of inter-connected social, economic and ecological systems?

References (already hyperlinked in the text)

  1. “Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance for a Resilient Future”; Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, 2022; United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction; <https://www.undrr.org/gar2022-our-world-risk>.
  2. Robert Hunziker; “When to build sea walls”; <https://countercurrents.org/2022/01/when-to-build-sea-walls/>; Countercurrents.org; January 7, 2022.
  3. Thwaites Glacier is a Florida-sized slab of ice in Antarctica. This glacier is sliding into the ocean and poses the greatest near-term threat to sea level rise. New data suggest that an ice shelf slowing the glacier’s slide, may collapse within five years. <https://www.google.com/search?q=collapse+of+the+Thwaites+glacier+%28Antarctica%29&client=ubuntu&channel=fs&ei=PcaVYrOJLPg4EP__es6A0&ved=0ahUKEwj_oKWBnon4AhUz8DgGHf87C90Q4dUDCA0&uact=5&oq=collapse+of+the+Thwaites+glacier+%28Antarctica%29&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAMyCAghEB4QFhAdMggIIRAeEBYQHToHCAAQRxCwA0oECEEYAEoECEYYAFCOD1iOD2CgHGgDcAF4AIABngKIAZ4CkgEDMi0xmAEAoAECoAEByAEIwAEB&sclient=gws-wiz>; Accessed on May 31, 2022.

S.G.Vombatkere holds a PhD in Civil Structural Dynamics (1987; I.I.T., Madras), and is a Fellow of The Institution of Engineers (India), and Fellow of The Indian Social Science Academy.

Email: <[email protected]>


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