Saving Energy - My Detailed Local And Global View Point
I wouldn’t say that I’m passionate about saving energy and water, but I do see it as a moral and ethical responsibility in addition to an opportunity to ease the stress on my family’s budget. It’s amazing when you sit and think about the small things you can do to conserve water, electricity and gas, how much of an impact you can have on your own pocketbook.
A few years ago, when I first thought of saving energy, I focused primarily on the obvious things - unplugging cell phone chargers and my laptop, turning off lights, walking or taking public transit instead of driving. At that point, having lived in an American urban environment from childhood, I did not really understand the connection between consumption of products and energy use or the issues around the conservation of water.
Once I had a chance to live in the country on a working farm, my conservation horizons broadened as I learned that the amount of water coming from the well running from the tap impacts the amount of water available to keep the animals satiated and the garden growing.
When I first moved to Sugarcreek, Ohio the community experienced a particularly dry year. Needless to say, once the well started to run low, luxuries like showers and coffee became evident. As the entire community dealt with a water shortage that year, water became more scarce at the retail stores.
It didn’t come to the point of panic, but running to a store prepared to do battle over gallons of water was not pleasant. That year our garden was not able to produce the yield that we normally use to make dinners over the course of the summer, and there was less to prepare for the winter in the freezer or in cans.
Following this experience, I began to understand what saving water really meant - without water there is no coffee in the morning to brew and less food on the table at the end of the day. My first experience in Sugarcreek transformed me into an all out conservationist though.
After a couple of years in the little town, I had an opportunity to live in Europe which is where I learned some lessons in resource scarcity. It was actually shocking to me how expensive it was to live there when you consume at the rate of an average American.
For example, plastic bags in the US are abundant and free at every grocery store, but in Europe, plastic bags are never free. The plastic bag issue may not directly be evident as a part of the energy conservation debate, but it is a symptom.
Energy in Europe is expensive. The reason: Europe is experiencing stretched resources spread over a very dense population. For much of the Northern part of Europe, energy is controlled by Russian gas.
For almost all of Europe, energy in terms of gasoline and oil is controlled by OPEC. Add in the cost of multiple layers of national regulations over several small countries and you begin to see that just to make and freely distribute the plastic bags in the grocery stores doesn’t make sense.
Apart from the financial incentives of saving energy and water, there is really a level of moral and ethical responsibility as well. Can you imagine a world where our children live without the resources that they need now to thrive? Can you imagine a world where an oil conglomerate can overthrow another country based solely on their hold on the oil that the world needs to run their economies?
What would we do tomorrow if there were no more barrels of oil or if all of the gas pipelines where shut down? There are some huge implications on our children’s future if we choose to usurp unsustainable sources of energy while leaving them nothing on which to build a world.
Even following my experience in Europe and in the American countryside, I would not shout to the mountaintops that I am a Greenpeace-card-carrying conservationist, but I would say that I am more cautious and aware than ever before about the importance of saving energy and water, especially at home.