There is no denying that the world is facing some serious problems. We know that the present way of doing things is unsustainable. It is estimated that to carry on the way we are now, we would need the resources of nine planet earths. We know that something has to change, we know that we have to do things differently. The Human Development Report 2007/2008 puts it well: “Climate change mitigation is about transforming the way that we produce and use energy. And it is about living within the bounds of ecological sustainability”.
The weird thing is that it seems to be virtually impossible to get people to change their ways. It seems that people only change when they are forced to.
Try telling people that they must drive less because oil is a non renewable resource. There are many things that can be done to reduce the amount of fuel we use. However, most people are not interested. That is until the price of petrol jumps up. Now people are starting lift clubs, cutting out unnecessary trips, buying more fuel efficient cars, etc.
We are told that we must save water because current usage will lead to water shortages, but we carry on and then as predicted there are water shortages. At that point we are forced to use water more responsibly because there are water restrictions. The other motivation to make changes in our water usage is the increase in the price. (Read more about our water problems here).
Why do we seem to have an inability to act before we have no choice? Why aren’t we able to forestall things which we know are inevitable. What aspect of human character causes this? It seems to apply to so many things. Look at the foods we eat. We know that a lot of the stuff is bad for us and will damage our health in the long run, but we continue to eat these foods. Then the doctor tells us that we have diabetes or high cholesterol and we have to stop eating the foods we knew we should not be eating in the first place. Now we are forced to eat more responsibly, but we also have to pay for expensive medicines to repair the damage we have caused our bodies in the meantime.
We all know that electricity has a carbon footprint. We have always been told that saving electricity is the responsible thing to do, but did we? No, as with everything else we haven’t done anything, but now we are going to because we are being forced to.
Eskom tells us that if we cut our electricity consumption by 10% they will not have to do load shedding. 10% is not a difficult target to reach. Apparently consumption has only dropped by something like 1%. So they are forcing us to do what we should have been doing all along. They stop us from using any electricity at all for several hours a week and the price of electricity is going to go up dramatically soon. Watch how much of a difference that will make.
Imagine if we did not have this electricity crisis, we would have just carried on as normal. Consumers would never saved electricity out of a sense of responsibility to the environment. People would not have started to install solar heaters and geyser blankets and what not. Eskom would not have started subsidising solar heaters and investing in renewable energy alternatives.
This electricity crisis is the kick in the butt we needed to start doing what we should have been doing all along. It would be nice if we could learn the lesson and start using water responsibly and using fuel responsibly and reducing our waste, etc, etc, before we are forced to.
We will be forced to do something about all of these things at some point. Adapting to and mitigating climate change will be unavoidable and it will be painful and expensive. It will make load shedding look like fun. There will be no alternative, no choice and everyone will be affected.
Think about it.