Sunday, June 14, 2009

Exhausting all oil and gas on earth

Green and renewable energy source is one hot topic nowadays. In US, the stimulus package has largely focus on getting more people involved in the green business area. However, the Democrats as the majority in congress also calls for energy tax to encourage more responsible energy use. On the other hand, the Republicans (now being the opposition) in US, banking on the potential hurt at the bottom line of the population having to pay extra, calls for greater oil and gas exploration and greater investment to renewable energy sources. Here, we see two opposite view of the situation. One says stop spending more non renewables, one says spend till the end.

We, being human, are quite creative and we think very well. So, normally it is the cost and benefit analysis that sways our decision. Nevertheless, cost and benefit will never manage to account for things that we cannot put exact value on, i.e. morals, ethics. In the energy debate, however, ethics and morals are quite complicated. Having less energy to spend freely means human having to survive with potentially less welfare (arguably, depending on where your "greed" level is). This could mean less morally responsible to ourselves while being morally responsible to the environment and our descendants. Which would be morally and ethically correct to side?

It is also known that human does extraordinary stuff when we are cornered. So, I would think that for energy debate, perhaps the best is to exhaust all oil and gas until suddenly we are totally out of oil and gas. Then perhaps we would be very creative. However, that would mean an extremely bad situation for those countries having winter season. Well, the solution would be to discover commercially viable renewable sources before all oil and gas are gone. Exploring and extracting more reserves would definitely mean faster exhausting, which in turn may force quicker innovation. That's a gamble and hey, I think it really suits the Republicans philiosophy so far, considering all the wars they have fought. But mind you, renewable sources are useful if the earth is not yet submerged and destroyed by global warming. If you think of the imminent rise of sea level or think a bit further than "now", perhaps you may want to consider the other end of argument.

Experts expect a certain minimum temperature rise that is no longer unavoidable, so it's not about mitigating and coping, no longer about preventing. At least in UK, the bag reuse scheme seems to be working well. But in Asia, owing to the mentality "Europe and US has enjoyed polluting to get better, it's our turn to experience the same thing", things are not so simple. After all, when you are still hungry all the time, floods are common and plantation failure is not unusual, global warming effect is not that great. In such situation, who would consider the Maldive residents having to search for another island to settle when the sea level rises a bit higher? Exhausting all oil and gases and not reigning their use will definitely fasten the bad effect but perhaps then it is a lot easier to make the argument. Again, when it is not too late to do so.

In the mean time, regardless of what other people is saying, time for me to reduce my plastic bag usage and be mindful with my electricity and water cost. It helps my bottom line at least.

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