Saturday, January 19, 2008


Thanks to Dr Gwynne Dyer

It takes a man to put down the sentiments in your article
and you are proving to be one of the best brains on our
planet earth.

You set in a good novel thesis alltogether of what it takes
to reduce the carbon emmissions.


Nano Hypocrisy

By Gwynne Dyer

http://www.gwynnedy Gwynne%20Dyer% 20article_ %20%20Tehran% 20Times.txt

The jokes about the Nano, Tata Motors' new affordable car for theIndian middle class, were harmless, although very old. They told the samejokes about the Fiat 500 and the Citroen 2CV in the 1950s, when mass carownership first came to Europe. "How do you double the value of a Nano?""Fill the tank." "How many engineers does it take to make a Nano?" "Two.One to fold and one to apply the glue." But the hypocrisy wasn't funny atall.

The typical story in the Western media began by marvelling thatTata has managed to build a car that will sell for only 100,000 rupees (US$2,500). Everybody agrees that it's "cute", and it will take five peopleprovided they don't all inhale at the same time. It has no radio, no airconditioning, and only one big windshield wiper, but such economies meanthat it really is within reach of tens of millions of Indians who couldonly afford a scooter up to now. And that is where the hypocrisy kicked in.

What will become of us when all those Indians start driving aroundin cars? There's over a billion of them, and the world just can't take anymore emissions. It's not the "People's Car," as Tata bills it, but ratherthe "People's Polluter," moaned Canada's National Post. "A few dozenmillion new cars pumping out pollution in a state of semi-permanentgridlock is hardly what the Kyoto Protocol had in mind."

But hang on a minute. Aren't there more than a dozen million carsin Canada already, even though it only has one-thirtieth of India'spopulation? Aren't they on average twice the size of the Nano (or, in thecase of the larger SUV's, five times the size)? Does the phrase "doublestandard" come to mind?

"India's vehicles spewed 219 million tonnes of carbon dioxide intothe atmosphere in 2005," fretted The Guardian in London. "Experts say thatfigure will jump almost sevenfold to 1,470 million tonnes by 2035 if cartravel remains unchecked." And the Washington Post wrote: "If millions ofIndians and Chinese get to have their own cars, the planet is doomed.Suddenly, the cute little Nano starts to look a lot less winning." Butpractically every family in the United States and Britain already has itsown car (or two).

Don't they realise how ugly it sounds? Don't they understand thateverybody on the planet has an equal right to own a car, if they can affordit? If the total number of people who can afford cars exceeds the numberof cars that the planet can tolerate, then we will just have to work out arationing system that everybody finds fair, or live with the consequencesof exceeding the limits.

"Contraction and convergence" is the phrase they need to learn. Itwas coined almost twenty years ago by South African-born activist AubreyMeyer, founder of the Global Commons Institute, and it is still the onlyplausible way that we might get global agreement on curbing greenhouse gasemissions worldwide.

The notion is simply that we must agree on a figure for totalglobal emissions that cannot be exceeded, rather as we set fishing quotasin order to preserve fish stocks. Then we divide that amount by six and ahalf billion (the total population of the planet), and that gives us theper capita emission limit for everyone on Earth.

Of course, some people (in the developed countries, mostly) arecurrently emitting ten or twenty times as much as other people (mainly inthe developing countries), but eventually that will have to stop. The bigemitters will gradually have to "contract" their per capita emissions,while the poor countries may continue to grow theirs, until at an agreeddate some decades in the future the two groups "converge" at the same levelof per capita emissions. And that level, by prior agreement, will be lowenough that global emissions remain below the danger point.

If you don't like that idea, then you can go with the alternative:a free-for-all world in which everybody moves towards the level of percapita emissions that now prevails in the developed countries. Nonegotiations or treaties required: it will happen of its own accord. Sowill runaway climate change, with average global temperatures as much as 6degrees C (10 degrees F) higher by the end of the century. That means afuture of famine, war and mass death.

Clucking disapprovingly about mass car ownership in India or Chinamisses the point entirely. At the moment there are only eleven privatecars for every thousand Indians. There are 477 cars for every thousandAmericans. By mid-century, there will have to be the same number of carsper thousand people for both Indians and Americans -- and that number willhave to be a lot lower than 477, unless somebody comes up with cars thatemit no greenhouse gases at all. Otherwise, everybody loses.

____________ _________ _________ ________

To shorten to 725 words, omit paragraphs 3 and 4. ("What will...mind? ") Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose articlesare published in 45 countries.

1 comment:

alan said...

Another take on the Tata Ipod is here: