To ensure sustainable future for a stable planet, it is essential to recognise the contradictions and complex interplay of powers among nations
There is something happening in the world that beats many forecasts and eludes much predictive rigour. The foremost among them is the talk about climate change. The principle of global warming and the heating up of the layers of atmosphere have been so disseminated and discussed that one has almost lost track of how the discussion started. Blames and counter-blames from different parts of the world as to who or what caused the climate change process continue to be traded. A major hypothesis has been that the armoured superior powers of the world sailed across the sea and marched over the land to gain control of the planet’s raw materials and resources.
On the strength of their control over the raw materials and resources, they became industrial powers and dominated the world even more aggressively. One thing led to another and they became powerful enough to be almost left unchallenged through the 19th and 20th centuries. Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and many other nations were part of the action. The ones that were left out were countries like Germany, Italy and Japan, who were forced to fight for their own space. World wars occurred and devastations reigned supreme. The powerful gained more power and the rest, as is said, is history. Meanwhile, the industrially-strong countries, with their colonies and resources, emerged stronger and began to realise that the world’s resources were not going to last forever. The earliest realisation was for the need to control access and distribution of raw material fuels like oil, coal and gas among others. The powerful began to preach conservation.
What this really meant was that after the Second World War, emerging nationalities were going to be denied the same use of raw materials even if it was their own. There was animated talk about energy conservation, which would impede progress of the newly-emerging nations to the status of industrial powers. The game was not subtle and all countries were not willing to oblige. West Asian nations obviously thought that they had the first right to their own fuel resources. Countries such as China were known to be roguish when it came to many questions on international law. In any case, the law was being drafted by the rich and the powerful nations.
The complexity of the situation was aggravated by the entry of nuclear power on the scene. The powerful drew up sanctions against countries that aspired to become nuclear powers without fulfilling the terms and conditions which the powerful nations wanted to be observed. If a country attempted to dare, carried out its experiments and tests and thereafter emerge as powerful as the members of the select club, it was incorporated. There is this easy example of the People’s Republic of China. The ‘club’ accepted China to its membership but rules remained unchanged. Clearly, the only international law was the will of the powerful shall prevail.
Countries such as India, with a huge practice and legacy of dubious Nehruvian tradition, were forever on the horns of a dilemma. Even today, the country is not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Entry to that group is through unanimous acceptance to a membership and the Republic of China always has a problem with the status of India. Be that as it may, the experience of others doesn’t always graduate to the lessons that have to be learnt. Put simply, there is something about the prevailing world order which raises fundamental doubts about its efficacy and indeed fairness to all concerned stakeholders. In such a situation, when there is talk of climate change, one has to objectively understand the boundaries, characteristics, content and the geography of climate change patterns.
Through a little over the last 10 days, the world has been testimony to a sweeping experience of deep cold in almost all of the northern hemisphere. This sort of a situation cannot be permitted to simmer. Have the forces of nature produced a situation which makes the globe susceptible to the universal reality of climate chill which will be followed later by a repeat of global floods? Some of this may sound as speculation and extrapolation of what at one stage of the planet has been described as the Ice Age. Irrespective of that, the time has come to at least control what the Homo sapiens can, the factors controlling emerging climatic trends. Whether it is global warming or chilling, one needs to be prepared for the future. The powerful nations may steadfastly refuse fair play or even share the advantages of their early start. Of the newly emerging powers, those who can crash into the charmed circles have already done so. The question is of a sustainable future for a stable and sustainable planet. For this to emerge, it is necessary to recognise the contradictions and complex interplay of powers among the nations that be. It is a no-choice situation.
(The writer is a well-known management consultant)