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Let's connect with nature's marvels

Human progress has been associated with growth in the consumption of energy, mostly derived from fossil fuels, spurred by industrialisation. Before the industrial age, we used biomass resources for cooking and space heating, and most activities were energised by muscle power, both our own and of animals we had learnt to domesticate.

Energy consumption has grown not only because of population increase, but also because of the phenomenal increase in production and consumption of goods and services, in aggregate income and the alteration of human values which now equate society's well-being and welfare to an ever-increasing level of consumption. According to Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, economist, philosopher, scientist and mathematician, human beings have grown exo-somatic limbs.

We now substitute actions earlier carried out physically with dishwashers, motor vehicles and washing machines. Modern technology and innovation have alleviated the drudgery and distress that humans faced in the past, when they were devoid of connectivity, mobility and conveniences taken for granted in today's world. But in this melee of rapid growth and development, fuelled by burgeoning consumption of modern fuels, we have also imposed negative externalities on our global commons, particularly on the earth's atmosphere which now has almost 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide as opposed to 280 in the pre-industrial period.

We now substitute actions earlier carried out physically with dishwashers, motor vehicles and washing machines. Modern technology and innovation have alleviated the drudgery and distress that humans faced in the past, when they were devoid of connectivity, mobility and conveniences taken for granted in today's world. But in this melee of rapid growth and development, fuelled by burgeoning consumption of modern fuels, we have also imposed negative externalities on our global commons, particularly on the earth's atmosphere which now has almost 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide as opposed to 280 in the pre-industrial period.

What has been an even more significant change has been our apathy, even hostility, to conservation of the earth's key natural resources, leading to inefficient and unsustainable consumption. A change in priorities and values of modern life has left us disconnected with the marvels of nature, alienating us from the wonders of the universe which once enriched our spiritual being. Reverence for nature is an essential ingredient of a balanced, peaceful and spiritually fulfilling existence.

In the ultimate analysis, human activity and the crowning success it seeks, is fuelled by the inexplicable level of energy we are able to generate within us, derived no doubt by our harmony with the energy that flows through the universe.

The natural wealth of this planet and our ability to use it for our welfare is directly the gift of the sun, a reality that most of us seldom reflect on. We are living in a world where many people believe the age of fossil fuels must inevitably come to a close, and the future undeniably lies in the widespread use of renewable forms of energy.

This also holds the promise of solutions that would provide a sustainable supply of energy to the 1.4 billion people in the world without access to electricity and another three billion who rely largely on biomass as fuel, often of inferior quality and burnt in crude devices which produce pollutants and harmful health effects.

If the world moves to a renewable energy future, as it must sooner than later, would that take us closer to nature? Would we then sense more perceptively and profoundly, the energy within the core of our spiritual existence? Would we then comprehend that infinite source of power which mysteriously propels us in our actions against all odds, and takes us ultimately to success, happiness and inner peace? To experience these, the time has perhaps come for us to rediscover our reverence for nature.

Tags: sustainable development, renewable energy, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, energy consumption

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