South Asian Dialogues On Ecological Democracy
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Harit Swaraj Abhiyan>> Proposal for normalising global atmosphere




Our essaying on 'Global Warming', climatology of South Asian Monsoon and restoration of planetary 'cooling in the Himalayas' is divided in two parts- (i) in the opening gamut we attempt to describe the landscape, climate, ecology civilization and culture of South Asia–the southern watershed of the Himalayas; the destruction of environment in Hindustan as a result of encounter in imperialism. We then suggest a program for resurrection of the ecology and environment in SA though national/patriotic sciences based on non-violence and plurality. We also suggest a list of issues for further empirical investigation and scientific validation to develop a science of climate change from Hindustani perspective but meeting the western sciences, half way through. ) The second part is an attempt to define and understand the basics of landscaping through vernacular narratives. It should perhaps be read as an independent paper. Our reference frame is essentially drawn from 'traditional wisdom' and people's own knowledge which, generally speaking, is vernacular and belongs strictly to the realms of community-geographies. We are South Asian. Our perspectives are regional but concerns are humanly global.

"Modernity' and 'Development' have never been appreciated even partially. All Modernity, Development continues to flourish and evolve incessantly in utter disregard of the costs involved. Those who pay the price had have remained marginalised, for ever. Only a few, rather rare, sensitive South Asians, American Indians or Africans, the likes of a Mahatma Gandhi, a Martin Luther King, know to their cost as to how gravely serious the WASP stings. It is no simple matter that knowledge available about river-ecology, scientific animal husbandry and 'progressive agriculture' generally remains outside the purview of hardware discourse on climate change and global warming?

Geographical history(ies) is/are critically important in this context. South Asia had had been the only niche on earth since long, or at least from the last 'ice-age' whenever it might had had occurred, where both lion and tiger as well as a large variety of middle-size cats lived and flourished at the apex of the ecological pyramid in the region. Besides, cattle evolved as the critical lynch-pin in a large eco-chain. In South Asia Cow-dung dries or decays and transforms into bacterial matter in just about 24 hrs and provides food for a number of avifauna and animals. Cow and its progeny itself is the most favourite food of big wild cats. At the same time cow and many other herbivorous animals are essential light graziers to clean the forest soils for new vegetation. Thus cow and lion together constitute the food-cycle on the sub-continent. This natural food cycle was classified in a classical Sutra: Jeevasya Jeeva Bhojnam (a being survives on another being). Any deliberate disruption or distortion in this food cycle amounted to sin or violation of Dharma i.e. one's duty. Hence big cats were as sacred as the cow. Both were revered and worshipped.

Poverty is a sin because it pollutes. Our former Prime Minister, late Mrs. Indira Gandhi had informed the FAO Assembly in 1974 at Rome, 'Poverty is the greatest polluter.' Now we know for sure that pollution causes global warming. However, in South Asia poverty is a colonial category. (Cultural, social inequalities are a separate issue the two need not be confused with each other). All 'Progress and Development' are costly business and can sustain on loot and exploitation only (See Hind Swaraj by M.K. Gandhi 1909). 'Scientific civilization' is based on imperialism and directly cause global warming.

We are pleading for a closer scrutiny of both history and science of regional ecologies. European sciences and ecology charted a path on the principle of uniformity and maximization of efficiency. We intend to propose a case study of climate change in South Asia. The South Asian sciences and ecology evolved on the foundations of diversity, coexistence and therefore natural laws. No other land or country knows better than South Asia (SA) that the climate of our planet had has been under severe stress and duress for the last 250-300 years–from around mid 18th century. According to recorded 'history' SA began experiencing prolonged disturbed weather conditions, especially erratic monsoon, since 1760. Bengal faced a 30 years phase of disturbed monsoon around 1760-1790 and consequential famine. (Famine is not a climatic category. In our understanding it is a politico-economic category but generally 'believed' to be a 'consequence of drought'.)

In South Asia, most experience about international exchange and world trade, even 60 years after independence, remains essentially colonial and exploitative. In whatever sector our governments adopt knowledge systems and development models other than based on people's own skills and resources they become usury conduits and cause global warming. Our experience of western science and technology in the last 200 years, whether it emanated from the 'liberal' west or the 'revolutionary' east (Soviet Russia) had has been that it is primarily imperialistic and colonial and is fundamentally motivated by the dynamics of political economies of the imperial masters. The current global discourse on climate change is essentially Euro-centeric, both culturally and scientifically. Even in that limited context, the west, the main perpetrator of crime against climate and ecology, is not prepared to accept any minimal mutually agreed protocol. The American congress (read Euro-American MNCs (or corporate business) declined to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Despite international 'noises' about the gravely adverse impact of increasing emissions of Green House Gases on world climate as the significant cause of global warming, climatology has not been developed as a serious academic discipline. Academics engaged in newly established faculty/centres of atmospheric sciences in institutions of higher learning and research are generally toying with computerised mathematical models about the composition of gaseous–atmosphere around the globe and its likely impact on climate change with little concern about elements of ecology which together constitute differentiated bio-spheres or act as catalyst inducing interaction amongst them.

In our considered view a global discourse on climate change would be possible only when 'regional' theorems about causation of green house 'canopy' over the earth are settled on the basis of hard scientific data. [For example, it is now scientifically known that methane expulsions by cattle constitute a critical factor in global warming. In this context we are anxious to know if data about cattle raising in sun-baked South Asia is available and it has been compared with datas regarding dairy forming in wet-cold and rare-sun-shine Europe and North Americas?]

Discourse on global warming needs to be sincerely internationalised and given scientific orientation. Geologically and geographically speaking ecology(ies) is/are a historical category. 'Global Warming' and 'climate change' needs to be historicised to be scientific and therefore humanised. All anthropogenic climate change is about the emergence of the European civilization. Antropogeny has evolved as a geo-specific science. The discourse on climate change will globalise when regional studies are collated without prejudice to consequential reasoning and the sum-total of data-statistics' wisdom is recognised. Final freedom from the pressures of political economy is essential for initiating a global discourse on Global Warming.

In our simplistic, allegedly 'nonscientific', understanding of climate change the regional autonomy of the Himalayan ecology is not yet totally irrelevant to initiate corrective responses towards normalizing both global temperature and the disrupted water cycle of the South Asian chunk of land. Hence we propose, irrespective of the etiology and causal consequences of the 'thickening canopy' of Green house gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, etc) emitted from all types of contemporary economic activities, that regional mapping (both micro(s) and macro(s), as well as super-macro) of climate change is urgently needed to develop community based local, regional, sub-continental, continental, global responses to negotiate the crises generated by increasing global temperatures.



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South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy