Planet on the Boil: Twinkle-Uncle Dialogue on Climate Stalemate

[1] Climate Change, or Climate Destruction?

earth 2

Uncle: Twinkle, what do you think about the whole climate crisis that we are facing now?

Twinkle: What can I say, uncle? But I am glad you call it “climate crisis”. Some call it innocuously as “climate change”. Is it a slight CHANGE that we are encountering now?

Uncle: No way, this is systematic destruction of our wonderful climate machine, isn’t it?

Twinkle: Absolutely, uncle, you are one hundred percent right. This is reckless and ruthless destruction of our Nature, Culture, and Future.

Uncle: But then why does everyone call it ‘Climate Change’ though?

Twinkle: No perpetrator would call his act a crime, would he? Even if we take ‘change’ to mean “the process of replacing something with something new or different,” there arise two questions. One, have we simply “replaced” something with something else? Is what we have replaced simply “new” or “different”? As you rightly said, we have systematically destroyed what we had by our reckless developmental activities. And what we have got, as a result, is a catastrophe. So an intentional commission or omission that results in a calamity should be called destruction, shouldn’t it?

Uncle: Yes, I think so, Twinkle. But who is the perpetrator here?

Twinkle: Who else, uncle? We, humans, of course. Although it all began in the so-called Western civilization, now the entire humanity has become the culprit by imitating that destructive “civilization.”

Uncle: Elaborate on that Twinkle, would you?

Twinkle: Climate destruction is something that emerges from the so-called “industrial revolution” which is a product of Capitalism, Imperialism, Scientism, and Developmentalism. Because of this industrial revolution, steam engines became essential and hence coal-mining became crucial to run those engines. So, coal, also called the black gold, came to be the center of our Universe.

The first industrial revolution is dated roughly between 1760 and 1820 when mechanized textile production, steam engine and machines came into being. Roads, canals, and railways were built. More goods were produced that resulted in increased wealth and higher standard of living with consumer goods. So people in the West enjoyed better diets, housing and so forth.

The second industrial revolution took place between 1870 and 1914 when many things such as air brake, telephone, electric light and typewriter were invented. The third industrial revolution was marked by the invention of electricity. The fourth industrial revolution witnessed the emergence of Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and so on. And the ongoing round of the fifth industrial revolution has to do with the interface between smart technologies and humans.

Because of colonialism, imperialism, and the current globalism, the entire humanity has merged itself into this developmental flow marked by 3Ms, Money, Machine and Market. So it is no longer Western civilization, or Northern civilization, it is planetary civilization that is wrecking our good old Planet.

Uncle: But, Twinkle, I don’t quite catch you. Is the industrial revolution alone responsible for the present predicament? And how does the industrial revolution become the cause of climate destruction?

Twinkle: To be fair, the industrial revolution alone is not the reason, of course. Some sections of our humanity considering themselves as Masters of the Universe, holding on to racial supremacist tendencies, and exploiting Nature for their own profit, consumerism and hedonism are all intrinsic parts of this problem. Secondly, it is the industrial revolution that gave rise to mechanization, automation, increased production, pollution, profiteering, lopsided development, debt trap, wasteful lifestyle and all other destructive tendencies.

Uncle: We should call this climate disaster then?

Twinkle: I’d say, No. Although disasters are often man-made, there is also a role for Nature in it. But in the climate crisis, it is one hundred percent our own wilful and deliberate destruction of the climate system. Destroying anything is a criminal activity and no one wants to admit to committing a crime.

Uncle: I still find it hard to call it destruction, Twinkle. What is destroyed though?

Twinkle: Uncle: listen to the World Health Organization (WHO) claiming in April 2022 that a full 99 percent of people on the Earth breathe air containing too many pollutants and that the poor air quality causes millions of deaths every year.[1] India has just recorded the hottest March (2022) in 121 years due to global warming.[2]

Scientists from the University of New South Wales in Australia and Purdue University in the US have found that rising temperature in some places could mean humans would not be able to adapt or survive. One Professor Steven Sherwood has said that there is no chance of the Earth heating up to seven degrees in this century, but there is a serious risk that the continued burning of fossil fuels could create that problem by 2300. Another Professor Tony McMichael has said that we might be faced with temperature rise of 12 degree Celcius by 2300. He has concluded: “If this happens, our current worries about sea level rise, occasional heatwaves and bushfires, biodiversity loss and agricultural difficulties will pale into insignificance beside a major threat – as much as half the currently inhabited globe may simply become too hot for people to live there.”[3]

In October 2006 Friends of the Earth UK said in its report that failure in combating the climate crisis will cost the global economy $20 trillion a year by the end of the century.[4] So look at all the climate risks, defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “as the likelihood of unfavourable impacts occurring as a result of severe climate events interacting with vulnerable environmental, social, economic, political or cultural conditions.” Tell me now, uncle, if this is climate “change” or “destruction.”

Uncle: Thanks Twinkle for this eye-opening clarification.

The writer is a social and Green political activist from the southernmost tip of the South Asian peninsula, Email: [email protected].

1 The Hindu, April 5, 2022.

2 The Hindu, April 7, 2022.

3 The Indian Express, May 12, 2010.

4 The Hindu, October 19, 2006.

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