Saturday December 15, 2018
Home India Delhi Smog: S...

Delhi Smog: Smog turns Delhi into a gas chamber

Writers call to confront the smog.

0
//
Delhi smog
Delhi turns into a gas chamber as smog covers the city. wikimedia commons
Republish
Reprint

New Delhi, Nov 8: When acclaimed novelist Amitav Ghosh was writing “The Great Derangement”, a work of nonfiction on the burning issue of climate change, many in literary circles asked him: “Why would you write about something so boring?”

Some two years down the line, as the eyes burn and lungs choke in the “gas chamber” that residents of Delhi find themselves in, his book is a fitting examination of the scale and dangers of climate change.

It was not just a few in literary circles who failed to recognise the problem of climate change; for most of us, it remained something vague. in an interview to this correspondent just ahead the launch of “The Great Derangement”, Ghosh had abruptly asked: “Did you notice the smog that had filled the air just before the onset of winter?”

“I think I did,” I replied. “Well what did you do about it,” he immediately retorted.

Ghosh’s book, however, was a timely response to climate change and deserved much more attention than what it received then.

“Are we deranged,” asks Ghosh in the book and argues that future generations may well think so. “How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming?” It was his first major book of nonfiction since “In an Antique Land”, and in its pages Ghosh examines our inability — at the level of literature, history and politics — to grasp the scale of climate change.

“In a substantially altered world, when sea-level rise has swallowed the Sundarbans and made cities like Kolkata, New York and Bangkok uninhabitable, when readers and museum-goers turn to the art and literature of our time, will they not look, first, and most urgently, for traces and portents of the altered world of their inheritance? And when they fail to find them, what should they — what can they — do other than to conclude that ours was a time when most forms of art and literature were drawn into the modes of concealment that prevented people from recognizing the realities of their plight? Quite possibly then, this era, which so congratulates itself on its self-awareness, will come to be known as the time of the Great Derangement,” he writes in the book.

Ghosh had added in the interview that, at first, his concerns were about the damage that we are doing to the environment — but climate change is something much bigger.

“When we are talking about environmental impacts, we are talking about specific ecological systems, about specific environments and the ways in which human beings have impacted them. But climate change is something much bigger.

“We are talking about an inter-connected earth’s system, which is changing in ways that after a certain point human beings can’t actually control what is going to happen and that seems to be a situation that we are already in. These changes are occurring in ways that we can no longer impact them. If you look around the world and see what writers are writing about, very few are actually confronting this issue,” he had said.

He also pointed out that, in his opinion, there were no simple or easy solutions.

“What has actually happened is that we have lost the tools, and the ways of thinking, which allow us to understand or even to register what is happening around us. Even if we sometimes find ourselves in the midst of some of these changes, either we are unable to connect it to wider issues of climate change that are occurring or we are unable to think of it in an imaginative way.

“Something is happening, which is going to be, in the long run, catastrophic and yet we are unable to find some story for it,” he maintained.

The fundamental point that Ghosh raised in that interview was that artists, writers and filmmakers have not really given climate change the attention it needs.

He had said that he is “not in the business of finding solutions” but pointed out that one good way to finding a solution is to “understand the gravity and magnitude of the situation we are all in”.

Ghosh suggests that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence — a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms.

A few weeks from now, the smog may fade away and the perils of today may disappear both from the headlines and our minds. But Ghosh’s book will continue to serve as a great writer’s call to confront the most urgent task of our time.( IANS.)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Countries in Climate Talks Move to Produce a Draft To Combat Climate Change

The text still contains some wording in brackets, denoting it has yet to be agreed, but less than previous drafts.

0
United Nations, Global warming
Participants take part in plenary session during COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries produced a draft text Thursday on how to implement the Paris Agreement on combating global warming, but some disputes remain with only one day left before the official end of the conference.

The presidency of the climate talks in Katowice, Poland, had asked for a draft of the final package to be ready by Thursday afternoon after almost two weeks of negotiations, but work continued into the evening to get it ready.

The draft lays out options on ways to implement the 2015 Paris pact which aims to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius.

“We can implement the Paris Agreement as you all designed it. It is now time to move forward. We need to move. Climate change will not wait for us,” Poland’s Michal Kurtyka, president of the talks, told delegates.

Climate Talks, global warming
COP24 President Michal Kurtyka speaks during the opening of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland. VOA

Ministers are expected to continue working on sticking points through the night into Friday.

Disputes over finance have been a stumbling block at the talks, as well as monitoring and reporting countries’ efforts to reduce emissions. The United States, which intends to withdraw from the pact, is trying to ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses against China.

“Money is the most difficult part of it. This is all money talk. This (meeting) is about technical decisions although it turned political,” one delegate told Reuters.

Groups of small island states and poorer countries, representing over 920 million people, issued a statement to Kurtyka expressing their frustration with the slow pace and lack of ambition of the talks.

“(We are) deeply concerned over the direction in which the outcomes … are heading,” the statement said, adding that a robust rulebook is needed to ensure ambitious emissions cuts are made.

United Nations, global warming
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

The text still contains some wording in brackets, denoting it has yet to be agreed, but less than previous drafts.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Returns To Climate Talks To Hopefully Reach a Deal With Countries

The talks are formally scheduled to end Friday, but in the past they have often over-run into the weekend. (VOA)