The challenge of global warming has brought us face to face with a stark reality. Economic growth is exploitative of nature and unless we make some fundamental changes we could be headed for an environmental catastrophe from which there might be no recovery.
Thinking about this issue has revived a concern that is even more problematic: Is economic growth exploitative only of nature or is it exploitative in general? In this post we will examine the historical record to seek some answers to this question.
The relationship of economic growth to nature is fairly simple. Starting with the post-industrial era (which is not much more than a quarter of a millennium old at most) economic growth has relied upon the use of fossil fuels and the rate at which greenhouse gasses have been discharged into the atmosphere, we now find, is environmentally unsustainable.
I wish to begin today a conversation about the possibility of a social movement in South Asia – not, for the moment, a social movement, just a conversation about a possible social movement.
This social movement, if we agree to it and it gets off the ground, would go by a simple name – UNACCEPTABLE. It would identify the ten things that we agree are unambiguously morally unacceptable in South Asia today and it would start a public conversation about them. It would signal our commitment to strive and eliminate them from our societies.
Let me start with an example that illustrates the kinds of things I have in mind and what I mean by unambiguous. Take the practice of slavery in the West. There came a point in time when the first few voices began to declare it morally unacceptable, an affront to human dignity. From these few voices arose the discourse that transformed the issue first into a public debate and then into a political struggle that finally put an end to the practice.