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Industrialization and development – harmful?

Posted by desicontrarian on June 5, 2009

Justice Markandeya Katju is writing a lot these days, quite thoughtfully.

…and for that it is necessary to have a high degree of industrialization….. It can only come from a highly developed industry, and it is industrialization alone which can generate the wealth we need for the welfare of our people…. It is industrialization alone which can abolish poverty and unemployment….

A) If you look at the ecology/environmental problem:

1. Average Indian Carbon Foot Print (tonnes per year) = 1.2 Average worldwide CFP = 4 Middle-class CFP = 9.23 (6000 kwh Electricity, 200 litres LPG, 1 car with 15 km/litre, bus/rail/taxi 2000 km p.a., vegetarian, a little organic food, some shopping & movies). Average Industrial national citizen CFP = 11 (Source)

2. Global warming is real, potentially catastrophic, and human-caused.

3. The Keeling curve, measuring CO2 from the Mauna Loa Observatory, shows exponential increase in CO2 levels in the last 5 decades.

4. The retreat of numerous glaciers, prominently Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa & Gangotri in the Himalayas, are dramatic, nearly catastrophic.

5. A study by researchers at the Physics Institute at the University of Bern and the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica presenting data from Antarctic ice cores showing carbon dioxide concentrations higher than at any time during the past 650,000 years!

6. Temperature record since 1880 showing that the ten hottest years ever measured in this atmospheric record have all occurred in the last fourteen years. 7. A 2004 survey by Naomi Oreskes of 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003. The survey, published as an editorial in the journal Science, found that every article either supported the human-caused global warming consensus or did not comment on it.


B) If you look at the remove-poverty goal:

1. India’s economy must grow at 8 percent per year for the next 25 years in order to lift the bottom 40 percent of its people to a decent standard of living. India is falling behind in achieving it Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty due to persistent energy shortages. “Energy is central for development. Our energy consumption must go up,” says a minister. Today India uses 471 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) of energy each year of which 327 MTOE is primary commercial energy. The rest comes from burning traditional biomass. In order to achieve its poverty reduction goals, India needs to grow its energy supplies by 4.3 to 5.1 percent per year and to consume 1536 to 1887 MTOE by 2031.

2. India’s current total primary energy supply (TPES) per capita energy use with other countries. TPES per capita is calculated as the energy equivalent of the amount of oil in kilograms (kgoe) a person consumes per year. In China the amount is 1090 kgoe, Brazil 1094, Denmark 3852, UK 3906, US 7835, Japan 4052, and the world average per capita energy use is 1688. Where does India stand? The average Indian consumes the equivalent of 439 kilograms of oil. The eight percent annual economic growth that Sethi hopes India will experience over the quarter century would mean that the average Indian would be consuming between 1065 and 1279 kgoe in 2031. That’s about what the average Chinese uses now and is only 70 percent of world’s current per capita average.

3. India could cut projected CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2017 by 550 million tons at an additional cost of $25 billion for more energy efficient technologies.

4. Even after implementing the most efficient energy conservation technologies over the next 25 years, India will still be emitting 4 times more CO2 in 2031 than it does today.



“There is enough on Earth for every man’s need, but not for every man’s greed” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name, which is located beside a mournful sea full of glumfish, which were so miserable to eat that they made people belch with melancholy.  This city is thickly populated by people, of whom only Haroun and his parents are ever happy, while in the north of the city are factories wherein sadness is manufactured and exported. The factories produce air pollution that is only relieved during the monsoon,….”. (Haroun Rashid & the sea of stories).

I think Justice Katju has a rather one-sided view of the problem. The human being has become a burden to the earth. When the smaller populations of the rich North have caused this much havoc, he wants the huge populations of India & China to do order-of-magnitude more damage. I think it may be too late to stop the deluge.


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