A Planetary Adjustment- Relevance for UPSC Exam
- GS Paper 2: Environment- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.
A Planetary Adjustment- Context
- Recently, the Prime Minister in his first address remarked that it was not the planet that was “fragile”, but people and their commitment to conserving nature.
A Planetary Adjustment- Humanity not the Nature needs Protection
- There is a misplaced belief that Nature needs protection rather than Humanity from climate change. This has been reinforced by many. For example-
- James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis: It posited the inter-connectedness of nature
- Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen: he warned that chemical effluents were altering the planet’s atmosphere and causing harmful climate change feedback effects.
- Many falsely believe that humanity is in the Anthropocene era and is like a geological force that is shaping the planet’s destiny.
- However, this gives the distorted sense that it is a vaguely defined ‘planet’ that needs protecting, a notion reinforced by apocalyptic documentaries on melting glaciers.
A Planetary Adjustment- Role of Humanity in Climate Change
- 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 through their effects were apparent only over centuries.
- Industrial Age: Atmospheric changes due to the dawn of the Industrial Age and the use of fossil fuels led to drastic changes in the Earth’s Climate.
- Impact: In both of the above eras those who suffered the most are the poor or those with the least agency to shield themselves from a perturbed nature.
- Ignorance: Last year, Uttarakhand saw an avalanche of rock and ice destroy two hydropower projects and cause deaths.
- These projects were undertaken even though scientists have long warned that the geology of the Himalayas, makes the region inhospitable to large mega-engineering projects.
- The several floods, landslides and earthquakes over the years have underlined the above time and again.
A Planetary Adjustment- Way Forward
- Humanity needs Protection: 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’.
- Changing India’s Position on Climate Justice: Present position is that India cannot be denied the right to rely on polluting fossil fuel to ameliorate the living conditions of most Indians who have limited access to reliable energy.
- This position will put the lives of millions of the vulnerable at climate risk in the pursuit of economic development.
- Accelerating Transition to Clean Energy Sources: India must accelerate and prioritize the transition to energy sources that are minimally perturbing to the natural balance.
- Presently, India’s commitment to net-zero is set decades into the future at 2070.
- Given its size and population, India will be disproportionately vulnerable to climate change.