EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES BY SHANTONU SEN

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A recent study has found that unsustainable resource exploitation and inequitable wealth distribution has been the cause of fall of civilizations through the centuries. This study sponsored by NASA has, what it suggests is, ” compelling Data” that the rise and collapse of civilisation is a recurrent cycle. The ” precipitous collapse” of civilisation lasts centuries and has been quite common. The Roman, the Mayank, the Han, the Mauryan, the Gupta and the various Mesopotamian Empires all sophisticated, complex advanced and creative civilizations were in the, long run, fragile and impermanent. By studying what it describes as the human-nature dynamics of these collapses it has identified Population, Water, Climate Agriculture and Energy as the salient interrelated factors which explain collapse of civilizations.

According to the study these factors converge to generate two crucial social feaures.First , they stretch resources by straining the ecological capacity and secondly, there is economical stratification of society between the Elite and the Mass ( Commoner), the ( Poor). These two social phenomena, according to this study, have played a central role in the character or in the process of collapse of all civilization in the last five thousand years The study argues that exploitation of resources by industrial nations is responsible for the Elite cornering the wealth leaving the Mass just enough to live above subsistence levels. This study rejects that the considerable technological advance that is taking place will restore the resources that has been used ( exploited?) bythe Elite. Tecnological advance will only increase more the use of the resource resulting in per capita increase consumption of the resource and also increase the scale of consumption. Natural resources can be enhanced , perhaps , only by Nature and not by Technology.

The solutions offerred in this study are !, fairer, equitable distribution of resources 2, reduce population growth and 3, more use of less intensive resources by focusing on use of renewable energy. It also warns that the Elites with their wealth monopolies will be protected longer and will oppose changes while the Mass will collapse if the present trajectory continues.

There are many issue posed by Parties in the election fray in 2014 in India. Are these among them?
For the inputs I acknowledge gratefully material in the Guardian provided in the 14th March issue by Nafeez Ahmed.

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