“Those who are concerned about the impact of global warming should first worry about the impact of the White House.” This was George Bush Sr., then President of the United States, at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (“Rio Earth Summit”). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change grew out of this conference. Although President Bush signed the treaty, it was clear that the United States would be a problem when it came to commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It will take another 25 years for any pretense of US commitment to this matter to wear off completely. President Trump has dismantled the provisions – and in fact the entire building – including ending many of the scientific committees and committees working on climate change.

according to The New York Times “Mr. Trump’s environmental policies … have repealed or relaxed nearly 100 rules and regulations related to air, water and atmospheric pollution.” And that “the damage caused by greenhouse gas pollution caused by President Trump’s retreat It may prove to be one of the most profound legacies of his single term. “

This is the political backdrop in which the signatories to the Framework Convention (the “Parties”) meet at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (“COP 26” or COP 26) in November in Glasgow.

In the meantime, the science is clear. As COP26 explained, “If we continue to do so, temperatures will continue to rise, leading to more catastrophic flooding, wildfires, extreme weather, and species destruction….We have made progress in recent months to bend the temperature curve closer to two degrees; but science is showing That more effort must be made to maintain access to 1.5 degrees.”

To achieve this “the world needs Cut emissions in half over the next decade And Reach net zero carbon emissions by mid-century if we were To limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. “

Amitav Ghosh’s new book Curse of Nutmeg – | Aphorisms for a planet in crisis Target this mess. Traces the origins of the climate change crisis and places them directly at the feet of colonialism – western Colonialism – and the capitalist model is built entirely on exploitation: the slave trade and the brutal exploitation of people; Reckless exploitation of nature without any thought of the consequences.

Things may have gone downhill over the past two hundred years, but the core of the model hasn’t changed one iota. Even in response to climate change, the fundamentals have not changed: cars will continue to be manufactured and used – only this time they will be electric; Runaway energy consumption will continue – the only change is that it will be generated using renewable energy sources, or perhaps by nuclear reactors.

This book is a sequel of some kind to big flaw which was published about four years ago. There Ghosh discovered how literature simply does not seem to have accommodated climate change as one of the crises of the human condition. damn nutmeg It is a rich, eclectic, wide-ranging, fascinating, cultured, deeply engaging and equally demanding story. It is very well written, but not easy to read.

she has Wide A canvas across both space and time and is not an “objective” report – it is an active attempt to persuade with facts and controversy. And the title Nutmeg is an ongoing theme, highlighting various colonial excesses and follies lest we forget – the inhuman treatment and torture of the local population. This is non-fiction with a situation, so beware of the mood swings the narration causes!

It brings not only amazing scholarship, but the energy to follow through, talk to experts, and travel all over the world to pursue some curious historical facts. An astonishing array of facts, opinions, observations, controversies, you name it, stumbles pretty much off every page. There are all kinds of excursions and side trips to different nooks and crannies of history, geography, sociology, current affairs… It’s an encyclopedic and intellectual sauna.

The thesis is something like:

The roots of today’s problems lie in their origins, ie. Colonialism and the brutal exploitation of nature and humans, both through mass massacres of local people (in the Americas), and the slave trade from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas.

This forms the basis of capitalism as it is practiced. From the Dutch East India Company, the spice trade, all the looting and looting of the colonies, down to today’s inequality and Occupy Wall Street protests – the few (1 percent) have always exploited the rest (99 percent)

¨ The world today is more dependent on extractive resources – be it oil or lithium; Whether it is palm oil or charcoal. So the task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, if any, is becoming more complex.

¨ In any case, the global response to climate change aims to change consumption patterns only on the roof; And not to dismantle the basis of a lifestyle based on consumption.

The methods of traditional societies are the only way out of this. The methods of traditional societies respected nature as part of the greater whole – not just as an infinite source of “things” to be extracted and consumed only.

This book is therefore an important contribution to the debate on reducing carbon emissions. But I’m not optimistic about the book’s effect in changing anything at the level of policy or industry practice. Those who really need the perspective the book puts in will likely tire of the controversy and the various trips to the arcana. and those who already have an idea – need advice on what to do next; Not a heavy-duty lesson on how things came to be this way.

Also, given its worldview and historical profile, he does not specifically examine India’s position on climate change. I’m not clear how India can solve its economic problems rooted in poverty, unemployment and rising aspirations while staying close to a carbon neutral lifestyle.

We have to create jobs – this means making something mass-producible as Schumacher defined – as “production by the masses”. Aspirations are manifested as soon as the income stream begins. Then the inevitable journey of owning air conditioners and cars begins. (The consumption list now includes “fast fashion” as a major contributor to the carbon footprint, too.)

I hate to bring this up here, but I should point out here that Bill Gates has written a book as well–“How to avoid a climate disasterI haven’t read the book – but I can see it’s running a promotion. On the occasion of COP26: The e-book is freely available to students.

From what I can tell, this book takes a completely “non-historical” approach, focuses only on the next steps, and is primarily technology-driven. “We generate 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases every year, and we have to get it to zero…This book is about why I think we can do it.” This is what decision makers love to hear.

Meanwhile, the bad news comes relentlessly: Only this week we learned that plankton are heading to cooler climates as the oceans are warming. Since they are the foundation of the ocean ecosystem, no one has any idea what the consequences might be. It was reported last week that the various shutdowns around the world last year increased the purity of the air and sky, but it made no difference to the warming of the atmosphere, which continues by leaps and bounds.

(NS. ‘fieryNarayanaswamy specializes in consumer behavior and strategy. He is the founder of Myth + Math, an IP lab; He is a board member of TARA (Technology and Action for Rural Advancement) and is part of the Alternatives for Development Group.)

about the book

The Curse of Nutmeg: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

Amitav Ghosh

Penguin Allen Lin

339 pages

Check out the book on Amazon here

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