A message on climate crisis

India’s highest literary award winner has sent out a strong message on the impending climate catastrophe at a special ceremony here as part of the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
Taking a swipe at the COP26 climate talks that ended the same day in Glasgow, Amitav Ghosh said on Friday that enough hasn’t come out of the summit that had some of the world’s top leaders attending it.
“More needs to be done at a global level with sea levels rising and aquifers drying up,” he said while explaining how his latest book “The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis” was inspired by the people of Banda islands in Indonesia and through it how he found that the origins of contemporary climate crisis lay in ‘Western colonialism’s violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment.
The book, published only last month, has been called a successor to The Great Derangement where the 2018 Jnanpith winner first wrote about climate change and its impacts.
“I had to address questions (on climate change) I encountered and saw first-hand closer home,” said Ghosh while talking about how he first wrote on the topic, moved by the situation in the Sunderbans in his native West Bengal — a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of three rivers where rising sea levels were “gobbling up islands” in front of his eyes.
“Nutmeg and Mace are endemic to the Banda islands thanks to their fertile volcanic soil. Because of the nutmeg tree, Banda became the centre of the world and the Bandanese very prosperous until the European colonialists entered, plundered and left,” said the winner of Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, and author of best-sellers such as “The Calcutta Chromosome” (1995), “The Glass Palace” (2000) and “Gun Island” (2019).
Talking about the central theme of his book, he said, it explores ‘the nutmeg’s curse’ of how an abundance of a natural reserve (spice trees) led to the elimination of their very preservers (Bandenese).
“The planetary crisis is exactly the same. It’s a resource curse. It’s exactly what’s happened with fossil fuel in places in Iraq and Libya in recent history,” he said while explaining how the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism.
“The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis” has been described as a powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic that traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. (IANS)

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