Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
06 Oct 2011
Concerns about effects
For anyone struggling to comprehend what climate change might mean to life-support systems and policy arena in the sub-continent, Binayak Ray has a comprehensive and authoritative take on it. Not discounting the ideological underpinning of climate sceptics, mounting scientific evidence has guided the author to position ‘effects’ ahead of the possible ‘causes’. That climate change may add to existing mutual suspicion in enhancing regional vulnerability is stark and clear. The region is on a tipping point.
Water is the centrepiece around which Ray builds his political hypothesis of mistrust and suspicion, reminiscent of the cold war era. Will climate change not aggravate internal squabbles and external hostilities against India? Water poverty, manifest within and across the borders, is the emotional trigger that can fuel a million mutinies. At a 2001 Karachi seminar, an emotionally charged delegate had commented that ‘any conflict over water would see Pakistan using its nuclear weapons’.
Such a scenario may be far-fetched but evidence suggests that regional implications of climate change may have serious consequences. The intertwining of water crises with religious diversity, ethnic fragmentation and politically sensitivity makes climate change too hot an issue to handle in isolation. Without resolving trans-boundary issues around water sharing, the impact of climate change in the region would not be easy to fathom. Cumulative impact of climate change on glacial meltdown, river flow regimes and groundwater overdraft could be catastrophic.
The implications of climate crises on social and regional security in the sub-continent are seemingly profound. No other region might be as vulnerable. Climate Change is aptly timed and well researched, nuanced with policy challenges that lie ahead. Ray has grasped the subject to its last digit, producing an important review that uses scientific evidence to build political argument. This book should not only be an essential reading for policy makers but must engage all those concerned with the peaceful co-existences of countries in the region.
by Binayak Ray
Lexington Books, Maryland
234 pages, $45