To understand what the Indian historian Dipesh Chakrabarty is dealing with in his book The Climate of History in the Planetary Age, one has to contrast two different cases of devastation.
In the Indian state of Rajasthan, criminal businessmen have illegally leveled 31 hills in search of building materials to keep up with the nationwide construction boom.
For Chakrabarty, this "demonstrates in an ugly way modern man's ability to move earth with his machines."
Things are different on Madagascar, a once extensively forested island, where the steppe areas are expanding more and more and the existing steppes are changing faster and faster at the same time because they don't tolerate the warmer and more extensive dry and hot periods badly: Here, for the time being, there is none culprit in sight.
In addition, even the shorter and heavier heavy rains provide no relief because the water cannot stay in the surface regions, but only washes away the last minerals.
The causalities in this kind of landscape change are then no longer as easy to name as in the case of the businessmen of Rajasthan.
From an agricultural country to a modern industrial state
With Chakrabarty's analytical tools, the disappearing hills of Rajasthan can still be explained well with the factors that are summarized under the umbrella of the concept of globalization.
With the ever faster expansion of the global movement of goods and money, India has evolved from an agricultural country into a modern industrial state, whose business and social life has shifted from the countryside to metropolises, some of which are growing gigantic.
The desertification of Madagascar, on the other hand, is mainly related to global warming and can therefore not be attributed to globalization so directly and without fuss.
The planet on which globalization takes place and the planet of global warming are not one and the same for Chakrabarty.
It is precisely this difference that forms the linchpin of Chakrabarty's study.
That's why he speaks of the "planetary age" in the title, and that's why he no longer considers a criticism of the negative consequences of globalization alone to be sufficient when it comes to the fight against the central threat to the planet - especially with regard to the weak in the dependent regions of the world.
In other words, if you want to counter the threat to life posed by climate change, you won't get anywhere with the old ideas.
The causes of climate change will not be traced within human time horizons.
Because human thriving depends crucially on fossil fuels, soil and biodiversity.
These have two things in common: they all have to do with the history of life on this planet,Keywords: