Reply To: 8. Past solutions for future transitions

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Miguel Núñez # Posted on May 8, 2015 at 06:39


¿How the economical modes of production in the capitalist system could be linked with massive starvation and sudden changes in the ecosystems producing catastrophes such as flooding in cultivated areas and droughts? What can we learn from past environmental events in order to improve our understanding around current concerns such as the ENSO (El niño southern oscilation) and the climate change? In what way can we associate environmental phenomena such as droughts and flooding with the consumption and production habits from postindustrial societies?


By the annals method we can improve our understanding about environmental history taking in consideration the human events registered in the past and analyze them from current social approaches. In this way, in the case about the history of the ENSO, we can learn about the great famines in the late nineteenth century in comparison with the industrial cultivations of sugar in the southeast Asiatic coasts, made by the British Empire. Because of today we count with better comprehension about the effects on the environment by the industrialization, we can build relevant theories based on historical facts which reveal new causes of the human famines in the late modernity.

Key concepts: Famine, starvation, ENSO (El niño southern oscilation), tropics, flooding, drought, Drought in northern china in the early Guang Xu (1876-1879).

*Late victorian holocausts. El Niño famines and the making of the third world. The mystery of the monsoons. Make Davis.

Between 30 and 60 millions of persons passed away in the last third of the nineteenth century in the tropical areas from China, India and Brazil because of chronic diseases caused by a continued famine. Likewise, the British Empire managed in the same age the sugar cultivations in the southeast Asiatic, and the mayor part of the produced food was imported to Europe. With certain data and through testimonies from the late XIX century, Make Davis sustains the theory about the victorian holocausts, which mean that those massive starvation was cause directly by the victorian empire. Also, the illustrations and photography included in the book, from this epoch, are awesome and awful, helping to reveal and measure one of the most incomprehensible events in the late modernity. At the same time, this book divulges the traditional Chinese modes in order to avoid the famine effects on the human being, based on strict systems to control the prices of the rice and mechanisms to protect to the peasants which worked the land.

*The travels of General Grant, Philadelphia 1881. Chapter III: Its suffering masses. Chapter IX: Dinner with Bismarck. Chapter XII: Grant starts from India.

In the journeys by all the world of the General Grant accompanied by the ex-presidential family from the United States in 1887, is possible read about their perceptions around the free commerce as principal base for the development of capitalism such as experiences in Asia in this hungry age. We quote an interest fragment:

“The new retired president from United States, Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia and son Jeff left Philadelphia in spring 1877 for Europe. The ex-first family plotted an itinerary: up the Nile to Thebes in upper Egypt, back to Palestine, then on to Italy and Spain, back to Suez Canal, outward to Aden in India, Burma, Vietnam, China and Japan, and finally, across the Pacific to California.“

CASE STUDY DESCRIPTION: To discuss about how it is possible distinguish between the ENSO phenomena and the climate change phenomena, based on the next case:

“Flooding in the Chilean dessert: In late March 2015, flash floods and mudslides devastated northern Chile’s Antofagasta, Atacama, and Coquimbo regions. By the standards of most of the world, the rainfall totals were not extraordinary. But in a desert region that sees miniscule amounts of rainfall in any year, the heavy rains were disastrous. The rare rainfall in northern Chile was caused by a cold front that moved across the Andes. Normally such a storm would have brought snow to the mountains, but air and sea surface temperatures in the region have been several degrees above normal—turning the snow into rain. Some meteorologists suggested that this fits with El Niño weather patterns”. (It was took from: )