The fact that this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival had three panels on or around climate change demonstrates how this issue has finally begun to preoccupy everyone, the public and governments included. Now, however, comes the hard part – doing something about it. Because, civilisation now comes with a sell-by date.
In the session, ‘Uninhabitable Earth’, on day four of JLF, panelists spoke about the policy, politics and psychology of climate change. “We’re all living in unprecedented times. For as long as humans have walked the earth, the planet has never been as warm as it is today,” revealed David Wallace-Wells, author of a work (‘Uninhabitable Earth’) that has injected urgency into the conversation on climate change. “It’s like we’ve landed on a new planet, with a new climate.”
In other words, humans must accept that much of the life of old can no longer be saved, and that a new world would have to rise from the ashes of the old – literally, in the case of Australia. “We need to have a sense of urgency but our actions shouldn’t result in a global, North-South blame game.”
According to Navroz Dubash, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research who has researched and written extensively on climate change, what is different today is the pace and scale of the changes, which very few had predicted. “We have to think of development in the context of a warming world,” he informed.
Of course, climate change is also impacting our psyches; some of us would rather not think about it. “There is a paralysis at the level of policy makers and citizens. And there’s also a defensive pushback, where people are saying