The New World of Climate Suffering
To date, there have been two proposed responses to climate change: mitigation, aimed at stopping the buildup of greenhouse gases, and adaptation, focused on accommodating ourselves to a warmer world. There is a third option, however, that is increasingly relevant: suffering.
No matter how much the world mitigates or takes measures to adapt, increasingly large swaths of humanity are already feeling the consequences of intensified storms, droughts, floods, heat waves, and other hardships associated with climate change.
Increasingly large swaths of humanity are already feeling the consequences of intensified storms, droughts, floods, heat waves, and other hardships
Many are aware that different parts of the world bear different responsibilities for carbon emissions. Many are also aware that the poor are the most vulnerable to climate changes. What is less known, or at least less appreciated, is the lived experience of this power differential.
During two recent research trips to Nepal and India to study how some of the world’s poorest people are living through the opening chapters of climate change, I witnessed a widening gyre of suffering.
Political scientist Rob Nixon has written eloquently about “slow violence.” This is a type of cruelty “that is neither spectacular nor instantaneous but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales.” This is exactly the kind of silent viciousness I saw moving across parts of the Indian subcontinent. For these farmers and villagers, the causal accretions of climate change may be gradual, emanate from across the oceans, and build-up over long stretches of time, but when they arrive, they do so with a vengeance.
For the complete article, please see New Security Beat.