Energizing All

Wahidul Islam

The United Nations has declared 2012 the Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Not so hard to understand that the target of this declaration is to ensure natural energy for the whole humanity. The year is also declared as the year of cooperatives but that is not a point to discuss here. However an energy summit will be held on 16-19 January 2012 in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates. This is an annual summit for alternative energy, clean technology and environment industries ultimately a call for ‘going green’ which is being made popular day by day.

What are sustainable energies?

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary sustainable energy is that energy which involves the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment. It sounds very ethical that everyone on the earth will have access to the energy. No one will have to pay for other’s development. The first-generation sustainable energy sources include hydropower, biomass combustion, and geothermal power and heat. Some of these technologies are still in widespread use.

Second-generation technologies include solar heating and cooling, wind power, modern forms of bioenergy, and solar photovoltaics. These are now entering markets as a result of research, development and demonstration (RD&D) investments since the 1980s. The initial investment was prompted by energy security concerns linked to the oil crises (1973 and 1979) of the 1970s but the continuing appeal of these renewables is due, at least in part, to environmental benefits. Many of the technologies reflect significant advancements in materials.

Third-generation technologies are still under development and include advanced biomass gasification, biorefinery technologies, concentrating solar thermal power, hot dry rock geothermal energy, and ocean energy. Advances in nanotechnology may also play a major role.

First- and second-generation technologies have entered the markets, and third-generation technologies heavily depend on long term research and development commitments, where the public sector has a role to play.

A 2008 comprehensive cost-benefit analysis review of energy solutions in the context of global warming and other issues ranked wind power combined with battery electric vehicles (BEV) as the most efficient, followed by concentrated solar power, geothermal power, tidal power, photovoltaic, wave power, coal capture and storage, nuclear energy, and finally biofuels.

Colonial mentality

From 1757 to 1947 we were in the British colony and after their quits we owed to them for our post-colonial mentality and they owed to us for the resources— kohinoor, mayur singhason etc — they plundered from the subcontinent. So still we value everything foreign, viz. certificate, idea, thought, food and activities. We aren’t in a position to buy local goods, have the least love for the country. We go abroad for shopping or during different festivals. We treat their near or dear ones in Singapore or America or Britain hospitals and our female members often talk about the amount they spent over there for treatment. It’s a token of class and superiority.

War for Energy

When the world is struggling to cope with energy crisis, the automobile factories are racing against time. Gadget companies are competing with thousand others to fund the research of gadgets every day. Don’t talk about arms race and arms producing countries. Energy hungry states are invading resourceful countries one after another under lame excuses.

Car or curse?

In the early years of life most of Bangladeshi kids have heard from their elders reciting ‘those who study can afford a car and those who don’t, can’t. Ignorant and uneducated people, usually thought to be poor, have to hire cars or ride on other’s vehicles.’ This oft-quoted small poem further reads that ‘those who don’t attend school most likely to be run over by a motor car’. These lines never failed to inspire the people of the post colonial era particularly those who are the puppets of masters abroad and their dependants. As people tend to toe the lines of the ruling class, follow their fashion, life style they want naturally to live the life of the upper class no matter whether the upper class people are upright or not. Most of the business tycoons or the greedy corporate or the rulers lead the same extravagant life with paucity, power, and pelf. Spacious house certainly with costly and foreign fittings, luxurious car more often more than one etc are the tokens of the people of the upper class.

This rich section of the society can’t guess or think what will happen to the energy-hungry earth if everyone of the planet affords a car. Can the planet afford 700 crore cars? With the ever depleting petroleum reserves the earth can’t afford the present 1 billion cars let alone 7 billion. You might have known that the world has now over 99 crore 99 lakh 99 thousand cars. In 2011 in the US there were 23 crore cars with 1.3 persons having a car and in China there are over 7.8 crore cars. With one billion cars around 1.2 billion go to bed hungry. If everyone wants to have a car run by biofuels, everyone of the planet will have to go to bed hungry. The more the cars the more the planet will be cursed.

Energy for All: Possible or impossible?

Without coordinated effort the ‘international communities’ are trying to mitigate the energy crisis and looking for sustainable energy for everyone. Doing nothing to contain consumerism, hedonism, extravaganza and tendency to lead posh life the policymakers are repeatedly calling for an end to energy scarcity. Whereas the energy hungry countries are invading one country after another to ensure the supply of gas, oil, uranium and so on. Not only that with the Breton Woods Institute diktat the countries are still building dams and barrages to satiate power hunger ultimately changing the course of nature. There are now as many as 45000 dams and barrages which have done lots of damages to the mother earth.  And the World Bank is responsible for these dams. But is it possible to purify water of a well without removing the dead and rotten rat which is stinking the water there.

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