The meeting between Representatives of Nations (RON) and Earth (Gaia) was successfully concluded today at Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. The three day summit between RON and Gaia reached some important and far reaching conclusions.
Reproduced below are snippets of the live conversation as it happened there. RON, a fifty member all countries delegation was led by famous biologist E O Wilson and Earth was represented by its eldest and favorite daughter, Gaia.
RON: Please do not take offense however in last decade or so you have become very moody. You are displaying occasional meltdowns, frequent deluges and hot flashes. In fact last year you gave us one of the hottest years recorded in human history. There is no easy way to ask this so let us know straight: Are you angry with us?
Gaia: I am not angry with your specie, just sad. Let me explain. For ages I have been able to maintain a system wherein each part connects with other to create a self sustaining ecology. However in last 150 years or so, your specie has embarked upon an economic system which institutionalizes greed. I do not have a problem with that however in search of quick profits this system has been treating me like carbon dump yard and depositing almost 40 billion tonnes of carbon per annum in my lungs.. This is equivalent to me having to forcibly smoke almost 1000K cigarettes a day. Now tell me wouldn’t that change my chemistry and cause mood swings. Also if somebody forced you to smoke would you like it?
RON: We understand that we have gone a little overboard with our system based on burning cheap fossil fuel however we will need some time to get it in order. We are trying to talk amongst ourselves and create an agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Gaia: In the letter you sent us prior to this meeting you outlined that you are trying to cap the rise in my temperature to 2 degree centigrade from the levels prevalent in 1850. Well do you know it means agreeing to a total carbon budget of 1 trillion tonnes of emission ( 1000 PgC) in my system. This includes both past and future emissions and as you might be aware, 52% of this budget or 515 PgC has already been exhausted. So at the current rate you guys are going you will finish the balance budget in next 30 years. What will you do then?
RON: We are quite aware of this scenario and we commit to you that we will reduce our carbon emissions as we go forward. The emissions will peak in 2020 and by 2040 we are committed to reducing them to 50% of the peak levels. This will ensure that we stay within our carbon budget levels.
Gaia: See I do not want to get into your internal politics of “cost equity” and “joint but differentiated responsibility” of subsidizing the clean fuel drive ( with historical polluters like US and EU paying more as they have been responsible for past emissions) however I know you guys are playing a dangerous game of prisoners dilemma. Your Paris summit in spite of its optics was a case in point. Knowing your track record I am skeptical that you will be able to keep ¾ of your fossil fuel in ground and big energy companies will have a change of heart about letting their profits go.
RON: Do not doubt us please. We have every intent of keeping our 2 degree centigrade increase promise and as a specie we are innovative. When push comes to shove we always come up with a solution as also legal framework to make that innovation work.
Gaia: It is your call guys. If your commitment to me are not honored, the current flash floods, snow blizzards, rising water levels, soaring heat are just the initial nudges. They will pale in comparison to massive floods, widespread famines, giant bush-fires, searing droughts that will be witnessed by your future generations. If you do not reduce emissions now by slowing consumption or switching to clean energy, one billion of you will have to flee as climate refugees in next 3-4 decades. The choice is yours. Actually you do not have much of a choice as there is no plan B. So are you wise enough to listen, only time will tell.