Thursday, January 3, 2008

What Drives Our Global Energy Conservation Policies

When it comes to energy conservation, do the consensus reached by the powers-that-be driven by political or environmental demands?

By: Ringo Bones and Vanessa Uy

In a perfect world, climate and/or environmental protection should dictate our energy conservation policies. But the whole world learned –in a hard way- that this isn’t so. Look at the recent outcome of the Heiligendamm G8. The truth was revealed for the whole world to see that the worlds leading polluters’ reluctance to adapt to “green” technologies is due to their overriding policy of choosing economic growth and poverty eradication over safeguarding our planet’s environment. In our opinion, economic growth doesn’t always translate readily into poverty reduction. In a country like the Philippines where on average the economy grows 1% annually while the annual population growth 2.5%. At this rate poverty always wins hands down.

Our recent Al Gore driven environmental consciousness in almost all levels of society is viewed by the majority of environmentalist that are active since the 1960’s as a “too little too late reaction”, but is it? Plans to make the industrial world’s energy source independent from petroleum had been drawn up since the 1967 Arab – Israeli War. And we always got the same perennial excuse since then: these energy sources can’t compete with cheap Middle Eastern oil. When should the global community take environmental and energy security issues seriously?

Over the years, there had been “missed opportunities” where a charismatic leader of strong political will could expedite during these crucial moments of recent history with a high degree of success of ending the human race’s addiction to petroleum. One of these junctures in history was the very first “Earth Day” back in April 22, 1970. Humor me for a moment; imagine then US Vice President Spiro T. Agnew writing his own version of “An Inconvenient Truth” highlighting the evils of Middle Eastern oil. OPEC would never have come to power in 1973. The OPEC imposed oil embargo on Western nations that happened back in October 17, 1973 and ended on March 18, 1974 could have been just a bad dream. The US Government’s delayed reaction on the OPEC threat by establishing the Department of Energy back in August 4, 1977 would only have only existed in techno thriller – type fiction. Or what if the Operation: Desert Storm veterans voiced their concerns during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) -held in Rio de Janeiro last June 1992- against the needless deaths of enlisted men and women to keep crude oil cheap. Friends of ours who served during Operation: Desert Storm genuinely believed –under enemy fire at that time- that by year 2000 cars will run on stuff- other- than- petrol.

Despite of a long list of missed opportunities of ending our petroleum addiction, policymakers around the world still don’t learn about the gravity of the situation. Do they have to wait for an all out nuclear exchange in the Middle East to consider evaluating alternatives to petroleum? It’s getting increasingly hard for anyone around me from ignoring the fact that every time we flick on a light switch or ride on a gasoline- powered vehicle we are rewarding the bad behavior of despotic Middle Eastern states. Renewable energy doesn’t only mean environmentally friendly energy but guilt free as well. Politics truly is the driving force behind our global energy policy, if only the powers-that-be will realize that we don’t have to buy our energy needs from countries that hate our guts.

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