Saturday, June 4, 2011

Energy in Human Affairs, Resource Utilization & Clean Source of Energy

'Energy is central to the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of human existence. Energy is a principal source of environmental stress, it is a principal motor of macroeconomic growth, and it is a prerequisite for meeting basic human needs.'
The above mentioned quote very aptly states the importance of energy in the human affairs & lays the foundation for the struggle between different nations that we witness today. If we re-visit the history of the human race we will see that the control over the energy resources has always been a major concern for humans. One of the reasons is that this control is strongly related with the survival of the humans as well.
The hunter societies were the only ones that were not harming the nature in their struggle of survival, but instead giving the nature time to regenerate itself. However, no other form of human community has given the nature its rightful chance of regeneration, not even the agricultural societies.
With the advent of technology & the rapid advancement that is taking place with time, has resulted in an increased level of energy consumption. The life style that the humans of today are used to cannot be imagined without the energy consumption. If we give our current state of affairs a closer look we would see that it is not just the macroeconomics related things that demand excessive use of energy but also our day to day micro level activities that owe their existence & survival to the consumption of insane amounts of energy. No action spares the energy.
As if consumption of energy alone was not bad enough, our concentration on the non-renewable energy is what is causing the planet earth extreme stress.The stress level stretches to the lives of the humans, clearly showing that consuming energy does not only improve our life styles but also causes distress. The harmful affect on the social fabric is something that never comes up during discussions on the topic of energy in human affairs.
The other side of the story indicates that we are not at all considering the fact that the seeds that we are sowing, their fruit will be reaped by our next generations. A kind of fruit that is going to be harmful for them & will be making their survival on this planet very difficult to say the least. We need to keep the following beautiful quote in our minds while leaving our carbon foot prints:
'The planet Earth is not something that we have inherited from our ancestors, instead we have borrowed it from our future generations' – Source Unknown
When a set of people talk about the proper use of the available resources, they are by no means against the development. The only factor they want being considered & applied is the rightful use of the resources & in such a manner that everyone benefits from them & that we leave behind enough of them so that our generations to come can enjoy them as well.
In the book ‘ The Life & Death of the planet Earth’ the authors Peter D. Ward & Donald Brownlee, draw the metaphor of the human life to explain the situation of earth’s life cycle. Just like we humans follow a life cycle that starts with infancy & ends with old age, likewise there was a time when the earth was in its infancy, then early childhood where it had the maximum resources to offer but now as per their studies the planet has reached its middle age already & is heading towards the old age. This is a natural process that we can’t do anything about just like we can’t do anything about our own age. However, what we are doing is that with the way in which we are utilizing our resources & in the process producing the waste material, we are speeding up this ageing process, similar to the situation where a young individual gets some terminal disease.
Keeping this dilemma of the resource utilization let's look at what the people labeled as anti-development are talking about.Utilization of clean source of energy & incorporating them in our life style is what these people are stressing on. Encouraging the habit of
  • Plantation
  • Going back to our roots of growing our own food at least the food items that can be managed in our backyards
  • Maintaining roof gardens
  • Recycling

These are some of the very basic things that are being advocated & encouraged by the environmentalist groups the world over, who work without keeping the bars of geographical boundaries in their minds & want to save the entire planet & not just some specific part or country of the world.
One of the perspectives states that this is easy in just saying but not so particle keeping in mind the way we are now used to live our lives. Again this is just the result of the wrong kind of marketing. If we just take a break from our fast paced lives where the end goal of everyone is to be able to indulge in more & more consumerism, we will come to realize that all that is required to help improve the condition is the change in our attitude & above all the change in the way we have started to think about life & how we want to live it.
A twenty minute short animated documentary film titled ‘The Story of Stuff’ explains this cycle in a very clear & amazing manner. All we are doing is indulging in consuming stuff & then working doubly hard so that we don’t lag behind in the race of yet again consume more & more stuff.
Another vital issue that is showed in the documentary & which is at the root of the idea of the utilization of clean sources is the process in which the stuff we consume is being manufactured. With the advent of technology the sensible thing should be & the one that makes common sense is that the stuff is made in a manner that it is suitable for the environment & for the consumers. Most of all it should be of the nature that is durable. Therefore, resulting less & less change over. However, what is actually happening is the complete opposite of this. What we need is to encourage local productions & consumptions around the globe.
As the saying goes 'Think global & act local'

Originally written for The Pakistan Sustainability Network

1 comment:

  1. A roof should be on the minds of homeowners who have to endure harsh northern winters. While the roof might not be a purchasing point when someone is buying a home, a faulty and poorly maintained roof can be a deal breaker when it comes time to sell your home. A neglected roof is an eyesore and can depreciate the entire value of a home in the eyes of a purchaser.