The alternatives, Should we change or the resources should change!!!

J. A. M. Sanka Chandima Abayawardena

May 30, 2008, we humans who have become the most humble subjects of the free market liberal economy today is consuming and in the full swing to find new sources of energies to maintain the wasteful and unsustainable life style. This is commonly known as chasing the American dream in life. Having a car, and fully air conditioned house with fully automatic hot baths and all sorts of gismo’s to show off the wealth, which is not there at the first place are the most common icons of this dream. After the industrial revolution which boosted the European ideology of living a materialistic and complex life, they force the world to define European order as the only world order. As a result, a massive military and political power began to concentrate to the north axis.

Being totally materialistic was the key characteristic of this new world order. Invading counties to maintain their new trend of growing really worked well for the politics in north. Once the north comes to understand that their power is totally dependent upon their consumption and finally upon finding new sources to maintain their big industries and mostly their war machines, they began to comply with that new call in every possible way.

After centuries of political, cultural and financial colonization, today, southern world has no option but to adapt the autocratic economical and political policies lend to them and to chase the north prospective of development and life. Just like we Sri-Lankans had to prove to the British colonizers that we are well capable of maintaining their way of administration (which was intend to keep us under their rule), many counties have and in the process of proving to north that they are capable of chasing the north way of living and consuming.

Since petroleum is the most common energy resource which can be employed to generate energy and most easy to access in terms of efficiency and energy security in-related to the old technologies, world’s liberal and wasteful economy began to depend upon it. Entire wars (from axial operations near Russian oil fields to modern day crisis in Middle East) were raged, to secure oil fields/supplies and eventually the most important key to power.

As the co-operate and political powers which drives the modern day economy, needed to maintain strong routes to good energy sources, they have begun to understand that the petro economy is not going to last long and unless otherwise they could come up with a good method to generate energy, their trading capacities are in serious and great risk. For some time Brazil has being in the forefront of using bio-Fuels and blends like B-20 to maintain their transport sector and their capacity is really growing. Bio-Fuel is an excellent alternative to petroleum and pollute less than its competitor diesel or Petrol. But there is a massive concern among green activist that the Bio-Fuel is leading the way to a massive food crisis in less richer south of the world. Employment of agricultural lands to cultivate corn or other sorts of bio-raw material to generate Bio-Fuels is becoming a huge concern.

As the world energy need is sky rocketing itself, the need for cheep but reliable energy source as put more weight on bio-fuels. Just like the corporate ambitions dominated the pre-Kyoto summit, and result the introduction of Carbon Trading scheme, today again the corporate ambitions are playing major role in Bio-Fuel projects and its propagation. Despite the huge potential of solar energy and power generation from solid waste, countries like Sri-Lanka tend to think small in them. Huge Environmental cost of building dams and hydropower plants and pollution caused by high carbon emissions from burning coal has left us with few options. Either we have to seek natural power generation methods and maintain large number of small scale “off grid power generation projects”(and also changing our consumption patterns)or find a way to secure our energy needs without getting fuelling environmental and economical cost. Recent price hikes in fuel and high economical pressure to seek for alternatives has pushed us.

Henceforth, it is good in environmental means if we use this opportunity to explore the natural energy potentials like solar and wind. We have a real high potential in terms of solar energy and some considerable amount of potential in terms of wind energy generation. Instead of spending huge sums of money on adapting measures which are more of short term solutions, it is more wise and beneficial in the long run to invest on research and development in more environmental friendly alternatives. As a country with considerable amount of sugar cultivations, we also have the option of employing the sugar crane to make bio fuel or blending agents to ease the economical burden of high prices of conventional fuels. Instead of making alcohol as a byproduct of sugar industry in the country we can easily divert that effort to facilitate some short term solutions till we manage to come up with a good action plan to promote solar and wind power in the country.

But we cannot forget the risk of propagating a new corporate interest trend in making bio-Fuels by employing agricultural lands for the purpose. Thus, making sugar industry to contributing to the energy sector can make chaos and panic among agricultural sector, and finally will threaten the food security of the country. So it is really important to the government to keep in mind that “food is a far greater need than ensuring energy supply” to the economy and food security should not be challenged in terms of social well being. Otherwise corporate interests will overcome public interests and finally we will see the same problem which Latin American region is facing over renewable energy.