Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's all about choices

I have tried to advocate the necessity of evaluating our personal consumption patterns to determine if we can make more environmentally friendly choices. In North America it's things like replacing light bulbs, recycling and other easy choices. What if you had to choose between clean air and TV?

In some parts of India, that is the exact choice rural residents are being forced to make. An excellent article at IHT.com outlines how the proliferation of cheap, and unfortunately dirty, diesel generators has degraded the air quality in some regions. Some inroads are being made by renewable and alternative sources but not enough. Fundamentally, as electricity is being cheaply generated by the diesel generators it increases demand for other electrical appliances such as televisions. A subsequent increase in electricity demand increases diesel generators and the cycle continues. I like the distributed energy concept being employed with each individual responsible for their own generation and consumption. If they can convert the generators to biofuels maybe they'll alleviate the air pollution problem and find ways to use some waste or excess production. The point for us in North America and other "developed" areas is to realize that the choices we make do impact our environment. We just haven't noticed yet.

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