Former president, Samata party
I come from a very old generation where we read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Then came Al Gore and now you mentioned the Pope. How is the bourgeois negation of climate change so strong that it does not seem to matter who writes what?
AMITAV GHOSH REPLIES: I think we all have to ask ourselves that. I was in Bengaluru a couple of days ago and talking to a lady, who was very well informed about climate change. At the end of our conversation, she said to me, “You know, I just bought a house on the beach.” That’s the derangement, isn’t it?
Urbanisation is a terrible situation in India and I wanted to point out the corruption around us. What is the power of storytelling to fight these forces, especially corruption, and make people more aware and create a rising tide against it?
AMITAV GHOSH REPLIES:I wish I had the answer to that. I agree with you that cities are a blight. At the same time, when the farmer finds himself starving in Bundelkhand, he comes to the city. When farmers in Maharashtra find themselves in a drought, where do they go? They move to Mumbai. Can this process be reversed? When I lived in Delhi in the ’70s and ’80s, it had a population of four million. Now, it’s 20 million. I don’t think it is possible to efficiently manage these numbers. I don’t think it can be done logistically. I think more and more cities in India are becoming mega cities and I don’t think that can be turned back.
Non-executive part-time chairperson, YES Bank
I read your book last night and couldn’t sleep, out of guilt and from fear. Are you arguing against growth per se or the kind of growth path on which we have embarked? Is growth itself something wrong to pursue, or is it the manner in which it is being pursued that really irks us and is calling upon us to think of more serious issues like climate change?
AMITAV GHOSH REPLIES:I think the problem is not growth, it is the way we conceive of growth, within certain really narrowly defined metrics. I think one thing that needs to be taken away from the enormity of what we face, it is this, to sit down and be forced to confront what is important in our lives. What is meaningful, what matters, the friends, family, community. We can grow through those relationships, that is also a process of growth.
A couple of years ago, I watched a documentary called Chasing Ice. In it, they mentioned that a glacier in North America has receded more in the past decade than it had in the 20th century. It’s great that you are writing about the issue but, realistically, don’t you think we are too late?
AMITAV GHOSH REPLIES:Certain impacts are now unstoppable. The melting of the Greenland ice sheet and disturbances of West Antarctic glaciers are now unstoppable. In the past, it was heat that sent carbon into the air, now there is so much carbon in the air that heat has not caught up with it. The sea level rise is going to continue and the glaciers are in deep trouble but there is stuff that we can do to prepare. To me, that is really important, to prepare. We see this, we know this, but it does not enter our consciousness.