Don’t Look Up : Is the end of Kaliyuga near?

Noushadya and I are now on a 2 month break at Kochi to deliver our baby at Birth Village, an informed Birthing Centre – more on this later. So, we are finally able to take some time out to indulge in watching movies on Netflix and spend some free time away from the land while my parents, the kind women and men from Agasthiyarpuram manage the madness at a farm.

A movie worth spending 2.5 hours of your time on

I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that mainstream Hollywood would make a hard-hitting movie about climate change, definitely not so soon. And, here we are right a month after Glasgow COP26 with a star studded movie called Don’t Look Up premiering in theaters and online streaming platforms. The budget of this movie is almost half of Marvel films.

Don’t Look Up is a satirical movie which attempts to bring awareness about the apathy by society and governments towards climate change. The central characters are 2 astronomers, who are proxies for real world Climate Scientists. They try to warn politicians, society, media about the impending doom of an extinction level event, similar to how dinosaurs died in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event by comet or asteroid. But, no one takes them seriously and after 6 months, everyone on Earth ends up dying because of a comet impact, which is a proxy for global heating.

There are a lot of cultures, beliefs and superstitions across the globe that warn us about an apocalypse, not necessarily like the one in Don’t Look Up though. The central characters in Don’t Look Up, are the politicians and citizens of the world. The central characters in the ancient & medieval fictional apocalypse are mostly gods, demons, kings, queens.

For example, the central character in Kaliyuga is Demon Kali

It has been mentioned that, the end of the Kaliyuga is going to be 4.32 lakh years from now. Anatomically modern humans appeared 3,00,000 back. Going by the current trend of atmospheric temperature, rising sea levels, biodiversity collapse, we, as a species, are not going to exist for another 3000 years, leave alone another 4,26,878 years.

Earliest proof of writing in India has been from around 5000 years back, which is when Kaliyuga starts reportedly. Kaliyuga first makes a mention in Surya Siddhantaha (सूर्यसिद्धान्त:), which was written 1200 years back. Our medieval ancestors had cumulative written knowledge of 3800 years and good amount of foresight to loosely predict the future. It is quite an impressive treatise for its times – I should give it a read some time, so should you – the wikipedia article doesnt seem to do enough justice. The authors of Surya Siddhantaha, in all their wisdom, must have contemplated about the impact of economic systems of their society that were building up to lead up the neoliberal capitalistic systems that we see now and come to have associated. They were wrong by only 4.2 lakh years, in my opinion.

Why don’t we listen to our scientists?

I am of the personal opinion that citizens have the largest role to play in the rebellion or revolution against the modern neo-liberal American-style capitalistic economic system, which is what Noushadya, I and my parents have set out to do in the far, in our own little way. But the current geopolitical and economic systems need all 3 : Government, Society and Businesses to function like a evolved civilization to combat against climate change. You can include “Scientists” to this list as a separate group to enlist all the actors that need to be involved.

Unequivocally, scientists agree that climate change and its effects are going to bring about apocalypse, if action is not taken soon. The impact of the neoliberal economic system imposed on the rest of the world by the US and certain European nations has been well known for a few decades now. Yet, governments across the world have continued to pour money on fossil fuel projects, mining projects, extractive exploitative rare earth metal projects instead of setting of circular renewable economies for all of these and agriculture. It is an indictment of the modern education system that we dont trust the very scientists it has produced.

BigAg missing much?

The one major problem with Don’t Look Up is that it doesnt include Big Agriculture much in its critique of our actions against climate change. They are one of the major players in getting us in this mess of global heating or warming as some of us like to call it. They have razed the most number of forests. They have been the cause for extinction of several species. They have also been the cause of marginalization of a lot of indigenous tribes. While Peter Isherwell represents the dirty tycoon from the tech industry, our food systems have caused much more destruction cumulatively even prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The most expensive form of creative expression in the richest nation on Earth, Hollywood not being able to critique Big Agriculture in the US for the damage that they have done is only proof of how corrupt the system is. Oscar winning actors having the courage to call out inaction by Governments, but not Big-Agriculture. Is it surprising? Not really.

Conclusions

To answer the question in the title: No, I am sure a small group of homo sapiens will survive the apocalyptic destruction that will ensue if and when the greenhouse gas emissions effects start increasing exponentially. These will be people who will be deeply connected to their food, water, soil, earth, other lifeforms, ecosystems. These will be people who will not move to Mars, however hard anyone insists.

Let me let you go with 2 charts that have shaped my thoughts quite a lot.

India has per-capita emissions of 1.7 metric tons of CO2 per person.

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