the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

india, solar power, and gender politics

In nature on August 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Articulating my thoughts about india is a stream-of-consciousness affair. None of the following is meant to be coherent in any way.

India has committed in principle to the country’s (world’s?) largest solar endeavour, setting the goal of increasing solar capacity from 3 megawatts to 20 gigawatts by 2020. Most of the blogosphere has pointed to the upcoming copenhagen climate talks to interpret this as a giant slammer (please get this elementary school reference) to the wimpy pogs (ie, the US cap n’ trade bill) the west has laid out in the place of emissions bargaining chips.

Regardless of the global realpolitik maneuvering here, the utter hugeness of this plan reminds me of the utopia/dystopia (depending on your gender) of RS Hossein’s “Sultana’s Dream,” in which women not only run india on solar and water energy, but use it to subdue armies of men. the deeper message of the story is that men irrevocably mess things up when any sort of power—electrical or political—is involved.

Which, in turn, makes me think about Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to the subcontinent, wherein the (mostly male) government pretty much dismissed Hillary’s calls to get their emissions standards under control. Their (completely fair) argument goes like this: how did the west develop? massive, polluting industry. and we (india) can’t? A recent princeton study looked at this problem and suggested that we should structure carbon taxes and caps around individual high-emitters, not whole countries. At a certain level, these uber-emitters are doing more damage to their country than good. It’s a broad framework,  but it should be the center of the copenhagen talks.

If that fails, we can always just hand things over to the Sultanas of the world… after all, Clinton’s speeches over the last month and a half have served as an amazingly effective palliative to the screeches from the (male, white) Right in our own country. If you’ve paid any attention… God knows the media hasn’t.


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