“Ecopolitical imperative”: a few critical comments

By Saral SarkaronAug. 30, 2020in Perspectives

I read the article THE ‘ECOPOLITICAL’ IMPERATIVE AND THE JANTA PARLIAMENT by Aditya Nigam with great interest, and with great satisfaction. For some years now, I have been following, if not always reading, the texts and comments published in this list. And I don’t remember having ever come across the phrase “Ecopolitical imperative”. Having expressed this sincere appreciation, I want now to allow myself a few critical comments:

    After taking part in the deliberations of the “Janata Parliament,”  Nigam has come to the conclusion that “the ecology question has become central to the political question”. But has it really? I doubt it has. It may be Nigam’s wish, or also of some participants in the Janata Parliament. But it is not the reality of India, nor for that matter of any other country of the world.

    In order to understand the problem we must first understand what the ecology question is. The science of ecology studies the relations and interactions of populations of living organisms among themselves and to/with the resources that are useful for their survival and wellbeing and are available in their habitat. If this understanding of ecology is accepted, then the size of each population of each species and the quantity and quality of their renewable and non-renewable resources are of great importance for the ecological balance of their common habitat.

    In the present context, let us think of India as the habitat. In Nigam’s article I do not find sufficient awareness of the importance of the growing size of India’s human population (not to speak of the dwindling population of tigers, elephants etc.) and the diminishing quantity and quality of resources useful for humans (fertile land, fresh water, forests etc.). He speaks about the worsening quality of air in and around the cities. And he speaks about the unemployment problem, as if it has nothing to do with the growing size of India’s human population.

    I was once asked by a friend to formulate in one sentence the most important aspect of the human condition that is troubling me. After hours of trying I came up with the following impossibility theorem:

It is impossible to fulfill the continuously growing “needs”, demands, wishes, aspirations and ambitions of a continuously growing world population while our resource base is continuously dwindling and the ability of nature to absorb man-made pollution is continuously diminishing. It is a lunatic idea that in a finite world infinite growth is possible.

 First posted on the Radical Ecological Democracy group [REDlistserve] on 29 Aug. 2020.

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