December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« Saved From The Savages | Main | "Be Prepared" »

May 16, 2009


Calculating the cost-benefit ratio for the third world is indeed a dilemma. I heard Bill Maher grumble on his show that millions more Indians will be adding to global pollution now that the Tata Nano is within the average Indian's means. So, what should the Indians do? Resort to walking, bicycling or clogging up the motorways with horse and buggy? The desirable answer of course would have been that Tata had invested in an affordable "green" car to begin with. India's pollution is not a laughing matter as one realizes just by stepping outdoors. But this debate about "progress" vs "pristineness" is always touchy when the living standards of poorer nations are involved. I wish that given the available knowledge, less developed nations should learn to industrialize without repeating the earlier mistakes made by richer nations in the beginning of the 20th century, thus avoiding poisoning their own environments. Also, sad to say that too often in these countries, the deep seated culture of corruption in the public-private nexus of business and govt. oversight is more to blame for lower standards rather than the actual absence of know how.

I feel that an average of 4-6 degrees C rise in global temps is way too high.

I'll defend Ratan Tata more than you do. The Nano is as fuel efficient as a Prius, uses much less material to produce, and has no battery related pollution. Also, given the lifecycle of Indian cars, each Nano will be used longer than most American cars are.

In fact, forget the American comparison entirely. I'd say the Indian elite have been almost as awful as Maher or the New York Times. Nano is more eco-friendly than any car Tata has ever made before - it's probably the greenest car sold on the Indian market. If tomorrow Tata made a Nano-prime ten times more polluting and five times more expensive - and in all other respects identical to Nano - there'd be no eco-brouhaha over it whatsoever.

That makes the fuss seem to me like naked, transparent elitism and selfishness. This isn't to dispute that fifeen million Nanos will be worse for the climate than none, but the solution (at least no solution a decent left can countenance) can't be to arm-twist peasants and factory workers to not have cars while genteel people debate in wonderfully civilized ways whether and when fuel standards for their Accords and Jettas should be strengthened!

I actually agree with you quite a lot. The "Don't do as we do, do as we say" posture of the elitists is something that annoys me just as much as it does you.

A very similar argument took place (and still does) up in the Himalayas and the Karakoram range regarding modernizing the living conditions of Nepal's Sherpa and Pakistan's Balti populations, mountain dwelling people, among the poorest and most isolated in the world. The mountaineering world was divided on this. One group (people like Edmund Hillary, Jon Krakauer and Greg Mortenson) argued that the aspirations of the Sherpas and the Baltis to see their children better educated, better fed, more mobile and having access to modern amenities and the outside world should be encouraged and facilitated. But there are equal number of "elites" on the opposite side who turn their noses up at any prospect of modern housing, satellite dishes or modern transportation "polluting" the pristine existence of these "innocent" folks. It matters little to them that the malnourished and poor laborers make it possible for the well trained, Gore- Tex clad sportsmen and women to have their food, oxygen, medicines and satellite phones available to them at 27,000ft + altitudes. The irony is that the "conquered" virgin territory is left littered with the indestructible plastic and metal trash and frozen turds of the rich adventurers.

But that's not my point. I only wish that India, China and other countries which are modernizing at a fast pace, should do so with some prudence - for their own future, not for Bill Maher's peace of mind.

0: We are cooling, folks; for how long even kim doesn't know. We are far more likely to face a climate holocaust from global cooling than from global warming. I agree with your point about the lethal poverty of billions. Cheap energy will save many lives, and encumbered carbon will destroy many more.

1: Sea level rise has started to plateau. At any rate, sea level rise is not from global warming caused by CO2.

2: Trade wars hurt everyone.

3: The CO2=AGW paradigm is exaggerated. There is no need to feel guilty about past carbon use.

4: The CO2=AGW paradigm is exaggerated. There is no need to force poor people into accepting lower growth rates and other phenomena of destitution.

5: There is no question we must keep our environment as clean as possible consistent with supporting the humans in it. One must keep one's room as clean as possible, too, consistent with living in that room.

6: Geoengineering almost guarantees horrific unintended consequences. Please don't go down that road.

what else do you expect from the self styles arbiters of human destiny!

and they are sitting on the fence with kyoto protocol!

dont you know, the first world is divinely ordained to enjoy the fruits of the world?

The comments to this entry are closed.