Thoughts Sans Boundaries

What do we do?

Posted in musings by Aditya Moorthy on July 28, 2008

I have been pondering about the climate issue for a while now. Actually the term climate crises or issue has become so cliched that no one gives a second thought unless something big happens. Then people think about it for while, get agitated that nothing is being done and there is lot of media attention suddenly on climate change and then it slowly loses interest and the issue is dormant waiting for another big event to occur.

Looking at it pragmatically, there is little hope that CO2 emissions can be reduced. People are still exploring for oil in the Arctic circle, middle east, Americas and Russia and there is no indication of any slowdown in consumption. Developed countries are blaming the developing countries for emissions, developing countries are taking offense that the developed countries kept emitting CO2 during their industrial revolution and taking a double-standard towards developing nations. Under-developed countries continue to suffer with no hope in sight and the whole world is just chugging along.

I have been thinking about a scenario where there is no respite for CO2 emissions which seems to be likely and sometime in the future the oil runs out and we have alternate technology in place but the damage is already done. The planet is chocked with CO2 gases, glaciers have melted, most island nations are submerged and there is a huge influx of refugees from island nations to mainlands, coastal towns are submerged, unstable sea, poisonous air and erratic climate leading to drought and floods. This is a grim picture but does not seem impossible.

Let’s assume that this is how the world is going to look like sometime in the future. What do we do in such cases? I am sure one of the alternatives would be to explore the solar system and beyond for a suitable planet to colonise and humans start to migrate from this planet. So far we have not found any place in the solar system or beyond which is habitable freely. Assuming that we do find within traveling distance a piece of rock were we can set up a new base, is it going to be easy? Initially not but maybe technology will mature to make it easy. But is the effort worth it at all?

Nature evolved animals (including humans) and plants to co-exist without the need to go great lengths. Plants require carbon di-oxide and produce oxygen and animals require oxygen and produce carbon di-oxide. What more can we ask for from Nature. A nicely balanced set up where all one needs to do is maintain the balance. I don’t understand why we are bent upon upsetting the balance. Is it some kind of a group rush we all feel facing the uncertainty and trying out new things? Or is it arrogance that we can manage nature? Or is it ignorance – we understand but don’t internalise? Is it callousness?

I don’t know… what do we do?

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Is there a real alternative to climate problem?

Posted in musings by Aditya Moorthy on July 28, 2008

The Indian government won the vote of confidence and there is jubilence in many quarters. What brought this political uncertainity was the deal that the present government wanted to sign with United States for nuclear technology transfer so India can meet its energy demands.

There is a great demand for energy everywhere as we become more and more technology dependent and our per capita consumption is increasing every year. The biggest source of energy known to us is fossil fuel (coal, oil etc) and nuclear fuel. Any casual reader of any news source will know that both these energy sources has significant environmental impact. One increases CO2 in the atmosphere and thereby warms up the planet and the other creates nuclear waste which is poisonous.

When one considers deeply on any other form of alternative like solar, wind or wave power, none of them offer the critical quantum that is required to make it meaningful and all of them require huge investments. So in a nutshell, there isn’t any other form of energy source that is safe, abundant, cheap and requires little additional investment to deploy without re-engineering all that has already been produced. That leaves us with a situation that there is no ‘real’ solution to the problems we are facing today such as climate change and its implications.

If at all we are serious and totally understand where we are taking the humans as a species (as well as our little planet and its other inhabitants) in the current environment, I think we need to reduce our consumption drastically. Reducing consumption is obviously not good for the economy and the comfortable life styles that we are used to but the alternate is very scary – unrest among many developing and under-developed countries, threat of terrorism and envy, environmental destruction, massive movement of population and an impractical strain on the resources of this planet. It may feel good now as we still have some resources left to tackle these problems. But we are not very far from a situation that the current resources will run out and the latent problems will surface like a huge monster.

So, reduce consumption (I mean avarice consumption) thereby indirectly bring about a better future for this planet.

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