In a shocking late 2015 WIRED magazine article — Solar, Eclipsed — Charles C. Mann reveals India’s intractable conflicts of interest in the matter of going solar and maximizing coal. Because of its enormous population and that population’s desire to move into the 20th — let alone 21st — century, India threatens to become the largest coal-burning nation in the world. On its own, it could cancel out the efforts, modest as they still are, of every other nation to reign in carbon emissions. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s former aim to go solar, already dumbed way down by the time of the December climate talks in Paris, is blowing away on the same winds that carry coal dust across India that’s as thick, inescapable and sickening to every kind of living thing as soil dust was in the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. Mann’s subtitle — “Coal? Or the Sun? the Power Source India Chooses May Decide the Fate of the Entire Planet” — tells it all. Throw China’s infamous coal blackouts and requisite China-like population relocations (India will need to move many millions of its people in order to dig under where they live now) into the equations and the problem quickly becomes not just India’s or China’s but everybody’s.
Even if you read just the first two pages and last two paragraphs of Mann’s stunner, your present vision of yours and your descendants’ futures will take a serious hit. The question? What the hell can we do about it?