A few months ago I went on a crazed ‘volunteer-myself’ spree and registered myself with a couple of organizations. One of them was the Emirates Wildlife Society which is associated with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature formerly known as World Wildlife Fund). I think the motivating factor here was the possibility of getting to cuddle some baby tigers or bathing birds drowned in oil-junk dumped in oceans. Temporary amnesia permitted me to forget which part of the world I was residing in.

Nevertheless, when I got an e-mail requesting volunteers to help out at the Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi by manning the WWF pavilion, I hopped on enthusiastically. I dragged myself out of bed at 6 am and made it to the Exhibition Center in Abu Dhabi with the help of the unlucky few who answered my panic-stricken call, “Help meeeee!! I don’t know where I am.” Paid parking being AED 10 per hour, I dug around for a cheaper option. Turned out I had to park a mile away and walk against the blistering cold wind. Mother Nature had better give me karma points for this!

The main goal of the EWS-WWF Team was to communicate the message of the importance of shifting the human population’s dependence on fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. The Living Planet Report 2012 clearly documents that  currently we are consuming at a rate of 1.5. This essentially means that the energy we use in 1 year, takes 1.5 years to be restored by the planet. Scary right?  The report goes on to talk about the other horrendously destructive acts we keep committing and their impact on biodiversity, climate and ecosystems. It’s like we’re bulls set loose in a china shop, abusing strength and breaking everything in sight. At this rate there will be nothing but an empty store left in the next 50 years.

Link for the Living Planet 2012 report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/2012_lpr/

There is an upside. People and businesses have woken up and are coming up with solutions. I saw pavilions displaying concepts of extracting energy from waves, geothermal, nuclear, solar and even gobar gas (from cow manure). However,  there are significant challenges as well. Such as the level of investment required, political issues and the major one- storage. Or rather- economical energy storage. We need to be able to use energy anywhere and anytime we need it. Oh yes- and the most important thing, it should be affordable! That leaves us in a state where we have a  partially formed jigsaw puzzle, with the biggest piece missing.

I have so many questions in my head. Will the future get to enjoy any of the bounties of nature or will they curse us? Will there even be a future or are we heading for Armageddon? Can technology save us?

What have we done…

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