The Clock is Ticking !
Let's face it ! We are living on a borrowed time. With the
end of the 20th century, the era of cheap fossil fuel based
energy is over.
We reached the peak oil production last year and it's down hill from here.
Unless there is a major new oil find, the world will never reach the
past oil production heights. This will have disastrous affects on the world.
Coal, the other fossil fuel, is responsible for 85% world electricity
production. And Coal deposits are not going up either.
Most of us understand the plight of countries which depend on imports
to meet energy needs. Auto industry will come to a standstill without oil.
Electricity production is bound to get affected in a major way.
However, the plight of oil exporters is not well understood. Take
Saudi Arabia. It's sitting pretty on black gold. The doubling of crude
prices has filled its coffers. It should be happy about the global
oil shortage ! However, it will be in deep trouble when the oil export
stops due to depletion of resources. Does Saudi Arabia have any
other industry ? Has it developed its human resources to transition
into manufacturing or services ? In fact, developed nations (mostly
importers of oil) have looked the other way while the Saudi Kings
followed the most regressive regime where women are not even
allowed to drive vehicles or go outside of home without a male
relative's company !
As a country it is the least prepared to handle the coming oil bust.
What are the alternatives ? We need to figure out effective ways of
harnessing renewable energy from wind, water and atoms !
At this point of time, auto majors are controlling the research on
alternative fuel cars. This is like asking the fox to count the
chickens ! Auto companies will try to maximize their profit rather
than find the best solution for the problem.
The governments need to push for more research in the renewable
energy area. Industry should get incentives to produce clean and
India is rich in Thorium. We should do research in producing energy
from this in a safe and clean way. Similarly, wind and water based
solutions need to be developed. Public transportation system needs
to be set up that is usable and scalable.
The govt should support the industries by giving tax write offs on
new investments. Universities need to be supported with grants.
To pay for this extra expenditure, government should put a
10/- per litre surcharge on retail customers. If we need more funds,
there can be a 50% registration charge on private vehicles. This has
been effective in Singapore where most people do not own private
vehicles. The public transportation is good enough.
Agreed India is different from Singapore, but we can use a
combination of the above to achieve this.
Mankind has faced many challenges in the past. I have no doubt we
will meet this one too. But only if we start our efforts now.