The clouds were dark and heavy outside. Mansoor Ali Khan’s talk at the launch of his book, The Third Curve — The end of growth, As we know it, at Landmark, Citi Centre, accentuated this darkness. As he shunned the concept of growth as a delusion, the audience sat stunned. For them, it was as good as saying Santa Claus was a hoax!
However, as the presentation progressed, the faces that wanted to argue about their Santa, turned calm. They listened to Mansoor, as he spoke about how the lifecycle of every resource on earth has a definite peak and then a decline. “Take for example oil, which is the main energy resource ever. When it was found in 1850, there was an increased availability. It reached its global peak in 2000. And now there is a decline,” he said, drawing a curve in thin air, more like a road bump. He called this the Bell curve.
“But this is never taught in schools. Instead we are programmed to believe that money, or the concept of growth is perpetual,” he said, his hand shooting up to the ceiling. The audience’s gaze followed his hands, hypnotised by the revelation. The whispers grew, now that Mansoor triggered their thinking. So, the graph of money is steep and that of energy, which is the source of money, is on a decline — aren’t we missing something?
That is where the third curve comes. Defined by limits, the curve is a stable smooth wave which signifies sustainability. He emphasised on the need for sustainable use by bringing out the fact that ‘within 150 years we have exhausted half the reserve of fossil fuels that had been accumulated over 250 million years’. But what about opting for solar energy? “You need oil to make the smallest of parts in the solar panels, where will you get that from?” he snapped. What about an alternative technology? “There should be resources left to tap energy, no matter what technology it is,” he replied. Okay, nuclear power? “The reactors, the logistics, the road that is made of bitumen, the storage machinery — everything requires the byproducts of fossil oils,” he replied, to an ensuing silence.
With a graph on the cover, the book might look like the one for economic geeks, but it is far from it. “Before any economists think that the theory is rubbish, saying that I don’t have an economics background, I want to say that the book is about energy that defines the economics of the country rather than the economics itself,” said the author. The Quayamat se Quayamat director, who also happens to be Aamir Khan’s cousin, said that he wanted to lead a quiet life and hence took to organic farming with his Acres Wild factory in Coonnor. So does he have any plans of getting back to movies? “No way. I directed movies for the heck of it. It was writing which was my passion. When the 2008 financial crash happened, I saw that no one from India came forward to explain what the situation was. That’s when I took the onus upon myself and this book happened,” he said in a breathless note.