Climate Change, Electricity and Developing Countries - Arun Singh

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In this fascinating interview, Arun Singh, a student on MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, explores the challenges faced by developing countries attempting to provide electricity to their citizens, whilst keeping greenhouse gas emissions down.



  • Business
  • Technology


Rick Shankman's picture

Adding to Rajesh's earlier

Adding to Rajesh's earlier point... yes, Western industry's use of "renewable energy expansion" (the forced or sponsored provision of home-based solar electricity to those too poor to buy a safe cup of water to drink) is a form of imperialism. It is a Trojan horse; as the use of that newly-provided electricity in daily life requires the purchase of things to plug into that socket. As said earlier, it's a trick.

But, it's an even deeper trick and deception...

Western (unbridled) capitalism - as wielded by the modern global corporatocracy - uses electricity as a means to shift rural (formerly self-sufficient, self-sustaining) communities to dependency on the products of corporations to maintain life. Does anybody find it odd that in the case above (involving India's rural poor lacking clean air, water and basic sanitation), the SOLUTION is local electricity? With home-based solar, you can hook people on needed electrically-powered things without the expense of providing the infrastructure to deliver them more centralized power. This is a classic case of misdirection, and the duping of those whose efforts could be channeled at fighting the real problems and problem-makers.

As stated in the first video (in my previous comment), India leads the world in annual ozone pollution deaths (1.1 million people annually). I suggest legislation aimed at curbing (both air and water) emissions is a bigger priority than home-based solar.

Rick Shankman's picture

Okay, let's assume for a

Okay, let's assume for a moment that bringing electricity to 200 million people in rural India is a "real problem" that nation is facing with climate change. Here is a kid who HAS electricity, a nice Mac computer, and Internet access too. How's he doing?...

Well, not so good.

The solution is never buying more stuff, or providing electricity to people who are chronically ill from their environment (a purely idiotic, Western capitalist money making idea). It's a trick. Remember, when you have electricity you have to BUY things to plug into it. You can't bring electricity to communities lacking breathable air, clean water, or basic sanitation as a solution to the climate crisis. The kid in the video above HAS the "niceties" of life, and his family is moving because he can't breathe anymore.

60 million Indians use this daily to get a drink of water...

Is this where those new solar panels are heading?

Trust me, the solution doesn't require solar panels when you can't breathe or drink without getting sick. Further, all the solar in the world isn't going to stop Indian utility companies' use of cheap coal for electricity. Only legislation is going to do that. Let's make breathing, drinking and eating safely a reality first, then we can talk about home-based solar electricity later.

Rajesh Kasturirangan's picture

I love this interview (partly

I love this interview (partly because I was there!) because he talks about the business of alternative energy and not just the technology. While he doesn't say so explicitly, the interview surfaced a worry for me: that capitalist renewable energy expansion will simply replicate the old imperial relationships between western finance and technology and client states elsewhere. I am already very skeptical of "market based" solutions to the climate crisis and this turns the dial to 11.