It was the summer of June 2012.
The population of rural India alone had crossed 1 billion.
But, there had been some good tidings too, in the last few days.
The Govt. had finally delivered on its promise of ‘power for all rural villages’. Another 100000 MW of power supply was available now, thanks to the mega-coal plants that had come up.
The Prime Minister’s Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme had been a grand success and thankfully there was nobody below the poverty line.
Inspired by C.K.Prahalad’s theory of ‘bottom-of-pyramid” opportunity, marketing companies had brought out affordable, low-cost goods. An air-conditioner was up for grabs for less than Rs 1000/- now.
So it came about, that in the village of Rayapatti reeling under a sweltering heat, Govinda switched on his brand new A/C and for the first time in his life experienced the comfort of a cool ambience and the joy of sweatless sleep.
In distant Raichur, the generator in the thermal plant responded to Govinda’s A/C demand, by stepping up its output by 750 watts with minimal effort, and, in the process, burning a little bit more coal and discharging a tiny bit more carbon-di-oxide.
Soon, Govinda’s neighbours in Rayapatti, in tens of houses, switched on their A/Cs, one at a time. Distant thermal plants responded to the load readily and spewed up some more minute amounts of CO2, warming the globe by a minuscule fraction of a degree. Sensitive, nanodegree-scale thermometers in observatories in Paris and Sydney picked up the infinitesimal change in temperature.
In the next few hours, in one village after another, in all parts of India, the A/Cs came on in rapid succession in every rural household.
The thermal plants now groaned, but revved up gamely to meet the huge demand. Coal was being lapped up hungrily, thousands of tons of CO2 pumped out into the atmosphere, and the globe being warmed steadily.
Finally, when Prasad, in the village of Bharatpur switched on his A/C – the 250 millionth A/C to come on that night in rural India – the global temperature reached the tipping point.
The polar caps started melting rapidly. So too did the Gangotri Glacier.