The 15th March skipping of classes by millions of school students across the world demanding action on climate change by the governments is one of the significant events of recent years. Greta Tunberg, the 15 year old girl from Sweden spearheading the movement asked the corporate and government heads assembled at Davos: “Why should we be studying for a future that soon will be no more?”. They were telling the corporate world that you have no right to destroy our future. Presently the consequences of climate change are experienced practically every day in all countries. India is no exception. After a severe winter, now 42% of the land is facing draught. Water scarcity is mounting. A bleak monsoon is predicted. Still, almost all ‘main stream parties’ are deaf to the call for urgent action to rescue the humankind from extinction as a result of ecological catastrophe. It is in this context, an initiative was taken by us to convene a meeting of concerned sections for an informal discussion on how the question of threats to Life Sustaining Ecological Support & Climate Justice can find ways into larger political /electoral discourse. Though the meeting took place in the second week of February, except Red Star and few environmentalists, no political parties/groups attended it. This negative attitude is reflected in the manifestos or statements for the 17th Lok Sabha elections of not only the ruling class parties, but of most of the left parties also; this vital aspect, this growing contradiction between capital and nature is seldom mentioned, or just for names sake.
The seriousness and the extent of climate change demands that such a critical social issue should be brought to larger political dialogue in the general elections, particularly at this crucial time. As we are seeing more and more frequently, climate and ecological de-stabilization are taking increasing toll on society, hitting the more vulnerable sections harder. The crisis of marginal and small farmers is only a case in point, where even the demands have been limited to (necessary but not systemic) loan waivers and prices, without addressing the questions of the very sustainability of small holder farming under the existing system. Artisans and workers are worse off, barring those few in the circle of elite fashion-chains. Most other nature-dependent ways of lives and natural systems are now on the verge of collapse in the next few decades.
Despite the severe ecological /climate impacts now being felt increasingly frequently and more strongly, the political discourse hardly takes cognizance of this. The many issues of ecological / climate justice - that are critical to the sustenance of marginalized communities as well as the “silent life” around — which were at least discussed earlier in some circles, are getting reduced to only local and immediate demands in many cases. These local issues are no doubt important, but the larger social-political debates seem to have gone under.
This is a grave situation. In the present corporate world, as the ultra right/neo-fascist coalition of religious fundamentalism and market fundamentalism is in ascendance, there should be efforts to consider whether we can collectively take some effort to at least introduce some of the above discourses in the larger political discussion soon. We appeal to all concerned scientists, environmentalists and all the organizations active in this field to see the environmental question as a basically political question linked to the whole gamut of development and democratization perspective. We appeal to all struggling left, democratic forces, people’s movements, and organizations of the workers, peasantry and oppressed classes/sections to come together to wage the political struggle for people oriented, egalitarian and sustainable development paradigm and for democratization of all fields leading to achieving people’s power in all spheres. n