When I came to Pondicherry in 1990, the main vehicle was the cycle. I thought that all efforts should be made to keep it that way. People exercised, the air was clean and the traffic not dangerous, apart from the buses. My reasoning was that city development should be organized to emulate that of Holland, a fairly advanced country at that time, in terms of environment management.
I did not voice my opinion. Firstly, I belonged to a “rich” country and secondly, India was beginning to liberalize its economy and develop economically. All errors that had been committed by others would be imitated. India succeeded superbly, New Delhi being one of the most polluted capitals on earth.
After thirty years in this country, I lived the life of a middle-class Indian and I feel I can now say something, without being accused of neocolonialism: it is time to change the way we use energy.
Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old girl from Sweden, stopped going to school this year, because she knows this:
The less than 2 degrees warming in 2100 of the Paris agreement is 5% likely. We are likely to reach 2 to 4.9 degrees increase with the median of 3.2 degree (Raftery et al. 2017) – with horrendous consequences such as the burning of the Amazonian forest, crops failure and hundreds of millions people migrating. Agriculture in India will suffer.
This will be accompanied with: ocean acidification, water depletion, soil erosion, deforestation and habitat loss.
Xu and Ramanathan (2017) have defined risks categories for climate change. The categories are: more than 1.5 °C is dangerous; more than 3 °C is catastrophic; and more than 5 °C is unknown, implying beyond catastrophic, including existential threats to civilization. Today, we are in the “catastrophic” to the “unknown” categories… about to happen.
These statistics do not talk to us of course. Yesterday we went to work, did our business, sent the children to school and visited our relatives. Tomorrow will be the same. But what predictions say, I am afraid, is that this is about to end in a decade, two decades, half a century? In other words, your children or your grand-children have no future if we continue to use energy the way we do. This is why Greta did not go to school.
It is always possible to act. If not for us, for our children.