Abstract Scarcity is ideologically charged and shapes political possibilities. The recent but richly debated formulation termed the Anthropocene – as a distinct intellectual rubric for exploring human challenges and prospects in an already climate changed world – claims to offer new conceptual grounds for radically re-envisioning the existing challenges that confront humanity. Instead of the earlier anxieties about an over populated planet running out of resources, the Anthropocene warns of a crisis brought on by tipping points from excess Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, climate chaos from a heated planet and the crossing of critical bio-physical thresholds. The Anthropocene eco-catastrophe, hence, is less about the struggle over resource scarcities than it is about sustaining conditions for planetary life. But does dealing only with the excesses of GHG emissions entirely revise the urgency for engaging with the notion of scarcity? Not so, this essay argues, especially if scarcity continues to imply finite limits and boundaries that cannot be crossed. Uncovering the Athropocene notion of scarcity, however, requires one to see double. First, the idea of scarcity can only be meaningfully fleshed out when located within broader discussions about environmental change and environmentalism. And second, through a comparative contrast with environmental histories of South Asia, I argue, the novel claims of the Anthropoene discourse can be brought into sharp and visible relief. The Anthropocence, I suggest, is not only compelled to acknowledge a strong version of scarcity but, critically as well, its notion of finite limits shapes, defines and influences a Neo-Malthusian variant of environmentalism that, in essence, rests on the politics of pre-emption.

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