Affordable and Clean Energy

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Imagine it: you have come home after a long day – presenting project proposals, attending endless lectures or working an exhausting 8 hour shift for your part-time job – and all you want to do is have a nice hot meal and watch some TV.

Reality Check: on average 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity.

Imagine it: you attempting to take immediate action during an emergency in your home, without any light to see by. It is easy to admit the simple fact that Western society takes access to energy for granted, I myself am guilty of this

I believe that we can no longer marginalise major issues such as climate change or loss of biodiversity as insignificant global issues. We need to hold accountability for the actions we take and stop mortgaging future generations in order to “patch up” our previous environmental impacts. If humanity does not transition to clean, sustainable energy, social well-being will have no more space left for development.

 

Reality Check on Global Consumption

An acronym I learnt during my undergraduate studies concerned with sustainable development back in Canada was NIMBY – Not In My Backyard. This acronym is something that has stuck with me ever since one of my professors brought it to my attention. NIMBY stands for any individual that does not accept accountability for environmental or social disasters that occur worldwide. In truth, certain nations are not held accountable because, when it comes down to it, the whole thing revolves around money.

Why can we not change that mindset and think about future generations? What is going to happen to your child or grandchildren if humanity continues to consume at the current rate? If global consumption continues at this level, I honestly believe that war will no longer be waged over oil and other fossil fuels, but nations will be fighting over natural resources like clean water and enriched soil.

I am not saying that the world is coming to an end, but what I believe is that we need to enhance and reinforce international legislations in order to actually make a difference. Because when no one holds accountability, no meaningful actions can be made. When we can measure the negative impacts already created, we can make a difference. We have only just touched upon clean and sustainable energy, so why is humanity slowly transitioning away from a high carbon economy?

Being the individual that I am, I am truly sorry for my pessimistic perspective. But I believe that through all of this frustration I can hopefully channel and spark that motivation to accomplish not just one, two or three of the sustainable development goals, but all of them. To alleviate world poverty, have basic education and provide the basic needs can be the beginning of enhancing and protecting the environment.

 

The Passion that Drives Me

On a personal note, a reason why I decided to be involved in the Master’s of Environmental Management and Sustainability at Monash was because of a simply inspiring and motivational man named Alfredo Moser. Alfredo Moser amalgamated his creative and intellectual domains, along with current ongoing environmental issues associated with developing countries, by inventing the indoor bottle light.

For those who are not aware, the bottle-light bulb is a mechanism used to provide light without using electricity, with an item that we dispose of on a daily basis. By using nothing but a piece of plastic, water and some bleach, Alfredo figured out how to kill two birds with one stone; how to illuminate a dark room while mitigating the ‘end-of-life’ cycle for several of those bottles. I am not saying that this is a permanent solution but I believe it is a giant beneficial and sustainable step towards clean energy, and it is being adopted globally.

It was discovering Alfredo’s invention that I realised there is so much more to the world than the latest gadgets and expensive clothes. We are the generation that should use our advanced technology and innovative minds, like Alfredo has, to alleviate issues rather than using a universal and standardised approach. I have realised that future generations need our help, especially with retaining natural resources through sustainable development.

In reality, Australia as well as other countries do have a long difficult process ahead to transition to efficient energy: greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly due to energy related practices (p.6). Adapting to such practices will take time and individuals will need to diminish their level of consumption down towards meeting the needs of a modern lifestyle. In turn, future choices requiring energy use must deliberate on environmental, economic and energy sectors, operated by the success of a society as less dependent on high-bond energy sources – namely fossil fuels such as coal.

Furthermore, MEMS has guided my passion into environmental planning with a heavy influence on sustainable development. In relation to my thesis – how political parties influence the public discourse on climate policies within Australia – I hope to terminate that ‘NIMBY’ mentality. There is only one finite planet that can sustain only so much within its ecological threshold.

My question to you: what could you do to reduce your impact?

Deanna Allen
Master's of Environmental Management and Sustainability Student

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