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The World Without Oil
Green+, September 2015 issue
The world oil supply is crying out for help now and all our selfish self can say is, why do I even need to bother?
What caught your interest when you’re flipping through your daily newspapers or scrolling down your news timeline on your smart phone? Perhaps we shouldn’t touch the political and economy crisis that made disturbing headline every single day. It is just amazing to see the hits of entertainment or fashion portal that promotes oversize pyjamas shirt as your day-out outfit. Not forgotten Wayne Rooney’s first hat-trick of the season that caught millions of football followers’ attention and sharing the news on their social media accounts could reach even billions of people all over the world.
But, how many of us actually read or just even click on the environmental news link? How many environmental post online went viral worldwide? From our knowledge, almost zero. That is why not everyone acknowledges deforestation or are even aware of the calamities faced by the rivers in Nigerian polluted by the leak of over 4000 miles of pipeline across Niger Delta earlier this year. Even sensational headlines of the 3.2 million barrels of oil gushing out to Gulf of Mexico in 2010 received little follow up or prime time attention subsequently. Is society so engrossed in reporting the next new and unique headline that such environmental catastrophes does not warrant a second look once reported or is society choosing to ignore this blip of an environmental problem because our lives are so dependent on oil? Critics have even compared the 3.2 million barrels that have flown to the Gulf of Mexico as an "unfortunate incident” and that such quantities is merely equivalent to 4 days’ worth of consumption in Malaysia. For those raise eyebrows, here are some statistics. According to BP statistical review of world energy, Malaysia’s oil consumption in 1983 was 195.11k barrels per day and it has increased to 73% in 2013. Almost everything in the world needs oil. Perhaps the most obvious use is in the petrol used for cars but oil is such an important commodity along the entire value chain of our daily lives. From the food served on your table to having lights and the packaging that you got from buying groceries. If you think that you are not a large consumer, perhaps you need to take a step back and look at it again in a bigger perspective.
So far I believe that everyone can agree that the supply of oil is finite, dwindling and our appetite for oil is increasing each year. So what should we do to manage this precious resource and maintain a sustainable eco system? Do we take the view of the extreme to halt economic development that is based on consumption? Or is it sufficient to maintain the current consumption patterns but just make better choices on lifestyle and technology? Or is it sufficient to just switch to electric cars?
Let’s have a quick look at our lifestyles. Everything that we use daily and everything we own, from the tooth brush to the television screen has either oil or gas as a critical input in its production process. Overseas holidays are easy and possible, thanks to jet fuel. To those who can’t live without internet, you should know that the server operation needs electricity, so does the operation of TV stations. There goes your daily entertainment. But what generates electricity in the first place? Electricity output in Malaysia is primarily generated from limited fossil fuel resources such as oil, coal or natural gas. So does 40% of the world’s electricity power plant. Based on the data from the Malaysia Energy Information Hub, (MEIH), the demand for electricity has increased, reaching 134billion kWh in 2012 and around 25 million barrels of oil needed to generate the demand of our electricity. So if you can’t predict how your life is going to be without oil, perhaps this information could clear your vision. The bigger question that you should ask is, what will happen to the world economy especially to countries that rely on oil exports such as ours?
There you go! With all this information, it becomes clear that oil has done something for us at the mean time but the world needs a plan B. The usage of solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and hydropower to generate energy could help us survive in the near future. Brazil has come out with another option by converting sugar cane to ethanol to replace petrol for their cars. But while renewable energy is still a far-fetch goal for Malaysia, let’s go all out for energy efficiency. Let’s start to walk the anti-oil talk by reducing the plastic usage, switch to tele-conference instead of business trips, enjoy your local trip rather than fly overseas, limit your online purchase from the other side of the world or get a more efficient car if you can’t reach your destination by public transportation.
And probably, the easiest way is to control your electricity consumption by simple steps like switching off the unused lights, set a timer for your air conditioners when you sleep, don’t leave your television when no one is there for it to entertain and switch off your charger when it’s fully charged. It is as easy as that!
Chart your energy use and wean your wasteful habits away. Make energy goals and be conscious of your energy consuming equipment. Purchase appliances that are 5-star rated and change your conventional lights to LED lights. Control your water use as the operation of its pump, needs electricity too. We have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle which is predicated on oil extraction. Whether you are a climate change advocate or critique, the world needs you to be efficient. Do it for the sake of your own personal gain. The sustainability agenda is nothing when the world population refuse to execute it. As the future is in a blink of an eye, everyone should keep up with how fast time flies to acknowledge that all these are not done for the next generations, but for ourselves instead.
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