Saturday, February 7, 2009

Our Environment, Oil and Economy

Al Gore, an environment activist, came up with an education documentary 3 years back - An Inconvenient Truth. He still highlights global warming as the most pressing issue the world faced then. All along, he has championed that we should do something to reduce (it is simply impossible to counter it) the damage done to (our originally Green) Earth. He explains the importance of reducing the demand for fossil fuel and the imperative to research on alternative energy and renewable energy. In recent years, companies realized the harm done to our environment and started practising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Green consumers favored their efforts and became their regular customers. This is notably seen in auto-makers. The production of more hybrid cars, the increasing number of research they carried out to produce more fuel efficient cars and etc. In Singapore, our government and related companies i.e NEA make effort to reduce our ecological footprint. For example, the 10% challenge, The Green Plan and etc. Mediacorp, has tapped on television, an important platform to produce a show, "Go Green", where it showcases how items are creatively restructured as a new product.

However, ever since the global crisis has surfaced, the price of oil has started to plummet. This directly affects the research and investment in alternative and renewable energy. One might ponder, what has price of oil gotta do with alternative and renewable energy? In fact, there is a direct link. The prime motivation for most businessmen to explore and invest in alternative energy was profits. With the price of oil rising, there is a need to find cheaper and cleaner energy. Unfortunately, as the price of oil starts to fall (due to reduction in demand as the economy is bad) since the global recession, alternative and renewable energy are less profitable and attractive. Consumers may cut back their spending on organic and green products which may be more expensive. If consumers cannot even keep their jobs, they wouldnt be bothered to care about the environment.

From my perspective, environmental issues MUST be tackled at nationwide scale. It isn't something which a tiny group of individuals can solve. It requires a massive scale of actions taken by national level. It is a group and collective effort. Unfortunately(hopefully I am wrong), environmental issue is not a top worry for politicians in developing and less developed nations (and even in developed nations). Instead they challenge that developed countries should be responsible for it as they can afford whereas less developed and developing countries do not the financial means to cope with it. So does this mean struggle for alternative and renewable energy? Perhaps, developed countries like USA do have to set an example for developing and less developed countries to follow.

In the mean time, while politicians set their directions and regulations, how can we as individuals and as the most intellectual living creature living on Mother Earth do our part to slow down the destruction?

  • Switch to Environmentally Friendly-Goods (which also include energy efficient products) e.g Certified Organic food, energy efficient lightbulbs and etc.

  • Invest in renewable energy

  • Borrow instead of purchasing (if possible)

  • Save Energy (which would definitely help you save money)

Be a Green Consumer from today :)

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