Should we prevent poor people from destroying the planet to live in peace?

Should we prevent poor people from destroying the planet to live in peace?

Keywords: Environment, violence, climate change in India, neo-malthusianism, think-thank, climate refugees.

 

Image 1: Projected average "wet-bulb"  temperatures in South Asia, (with saturated humidity), in (B) between 1976 and 2005, in (C) between 2071 and 2100 with an average temperature above 2.25 Celsius, in ( D), between 2071 and 2100 with an average temperature rise of 4.5 Celsius.

A "wet-bulb" temperature of 31 degrees is considered dangerous, a "wet-bulb" temperature of 35 degrees is fatal in a few hours.

News on the state of the environment in India is getting more worrisome by the week. The last weeks of confinement has made the air of major Indian cities breathable again. This made their usual degree of pollution, largely caused by vehicular traffic, even more glaring. A hurricane hit the east cost, and another the west, a rare event for the season. Swarms of locusts have devastated crops in the centre of the country. Heatwave are intensifying every year. They threaten to render swathes of the country, like Rajasthan and Delhi, uninhabitable. There the “wet bulb” temperature, that is to say a measurement that includes cooling by evaporation and thereby permits to assess the capacity of mammals to lose temperature by transpiration, threatens to pass critical levels. Despite the increasing climatic instability, environmental degradation does not stop. Concerns are growing about the sustainability of the current economic models of production and exchange. The worsening inequalities, submersion of part of arable land as well as coastal urban zones, and the decreasing harvests, are perceived as signs of a future destabilisation of states that would lead to cycles of violence in India and elsewhere. I propose on the contrary that violence and environmental degradations feed into each other. In India, the violence that has always accompanied economic development, weights in particular on the poorest populations, in particular tribal populations like the Adivasis, who form approximately 8% of the population of the country, and Dalits (known as “untouchables”) who make by and large 16% of this general population.