Could Mumbai Be The Next Fukushima? Amitav Ghosh Thinks It’s Possible via The Huffington Post


Climate change, far from being the dominant narrative… is barely reflected in mainstream [culture]. How do we explain this silence? This is what Ghosh calls the “grand derangement”.
A writer whose facility with words is matched only by the depth of his domain knowledge, Ghosh shows how culture is shaped by history, technology and the forces of dominance that have left the once-colonized world comparatively disempowered to deal with the crisis. In this sense, disrupting the status quo by changing energy consumption patterns threatens the current distribution of global power.

“In short: the rich have much to lose; the poor do not. This is true… (of) the developing world, where the urban middle classes have a carbon footprint that is not much lower than that of the average European.”


Could Mumbai Be The Next Fukushima?

While the big themes of capitalism, social justice, progress, religion and the vision of what constitutes a good life are all part of Ghosh’s examination of our impact on the climate, of more immediate concern to readers is his stark description of the impact of climate change in Asia. This, after all, is a continent which already suffers the biggest impact in terms of sheer numbers and one which is also accelerating the pace of that change.

Take for instance Mumbai, home to 20 million inhabitants, the second largest municipality in the world. Having escaped the wrath of a devastating cyclone for a century, it exhibits a complacency belied by new research of increased cyclonic activity in the Arabian Sea. Should a category 4 or 5 cyclone hit India’s financial and commercial capital, the impact would be catastrophic– particularly in South Mumbai, a low-lying tongue of reclaimed land.

“A distance of about 4 kilometres separates south Mumbai’s two sea-facing shorelines. Situated on the east side are the city’s port facilities, the legendary Taj Mahal Hotel, and the plaza of the Gateway of India, which is already increasingly prone to flooding. Beyond lies a much-used fishing port: any vessels that had not been moved to safe locations would be seized by the storm surge and swept towards the Gateway of India and the Taj Hotel.

“At this point waves would be pouring into south Mumbai from both its sea-facing shorelines; it is not inconceivable that the two fronts of the storm surge would meet and merge. In that case the hills and promontories of south Mumbai would once again become islands, rising out of a wildly agitated expanse of water. Also visible above the waves would be the upper storeys of many of the city’s most important institutions: the Town Hall, Vidhan Sabha, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Terminus, the towering headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India and the skyscraper that houses India’s largest and most important stock exchange.”

Worse, the city is one of the few megapolises in the world to have nuclear reactors within its precincts so the possibility of a Fukushima-like situation developing cannot be ruled out as an interview with nuclear safety expert M.V. Raman explains in some detail. Are we prepared for this?

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