By Geda Guda from Canada, May 29, 2012
When I remember the literal meaning of energy, from my grade eight or nine science classes, and its valuation in terms of creating capacity or ability to do work, I just ask myself if that definition was based on a simple perception or on critical analysis of the first educator. Because, it is defined in a simple and powerful manner. Sometimes things could be defined in simple or complex terms, with less attention to the quests of their season, but later they achieve huge acceptance, by the generation of another era, with an advanced civilization. The ultimate factor that differentiates us (human beings) from all creatures with in the defined species of our planet is not only our capacity to do work but also the variability of patterns or the mode of application or techniques in congruence to the growth of consciousness.
Man as a social animal needs to work and to maintain the ecosystem, in order to be able to survive and to reproduce. Unlike to many hard working and team oriented species of the animal kingdom, man's work pattern have never remained constant, because of the continuous change in consciousness. Such a non stop imagination and experiment is also the principal cause for the existence of the progressive change known as the negation of negation.
From ancient and primitive homo-habilis to the modern homo-sapien, there were many stages of changes, solely based on the practical foundation to all theories and philosophies, which is work. Work changes everything, and energy impacts work in either directions. We need energy to work, and the amount, the quality and the application of the given energy is vital to increase or decrease the out put, which is the product.
Energy as a matter of fact is neither created nor destroyed. It could be transformed from one form of energy to another form of energy. Such a rudimentary explanation is enough for me to embark my ideas of the commercial types of energies, visa a vis global economy and politics.
In different times we had options and alternatives on using energy, for now I want to show my point dividing the categories in to two major groups, for the sake of making my case in this article. I think the categories are the energy used at individual or family level in support of the needs for our daily living. The second category is the one that deals with the type of energy for commercial use.
The world as it grows and transforms in technology, the types and usage of energy sources also changes to reach the demand. At one time discovering or understanding the possibility of getting light and heat energy by burning wood was a miracle for people of ancient time. Later man found fossil fuels with more value and broader use, compared to the woods. Those fossil fuels were used to creat heat energy to be transformed in to light and mechanical energy. All were praised, as they were new and useful for the demand of the time.
Beyond it's value fossil fuel became the leading cause for global instability, and such energy is capable of Dis-balancing, economies of countries, by disproportionately sucking all their resources, and has contributed and is still contributing to clashes and wars between countries. Having such a negativity of fossil fuels in mind, it is also known to be the primary cause for the thinning of the ozone layer, accompanied by global warming that could possibly lead to unpredictable global crises. For those reasons and because of the need for independence many countries were working on finding a way to explore a new source of energy, along with digging the ground for more fossil fuel.
Approximately a generation ago the world learnt the possibility of creating enormous energy, by processing elements of the earth's crust like uranium (233/235/238). The ultimacy of fusion theory was compromised by the possible emergence of fission, a concept of physics that enabled us to creat unbelievable amount of energy from a small volume of those natural elements, by activating them through a chain reactor. As much as its importance, it had also a very serious damaging effect, and unanswered questions on how to avoid the residue, with out long term risks to life.
Fossil fuels are easy to use but with dangerous byproducts, that are affecting the natural balance by thinning the O3 layer, the quality of air we breath...etc. nuclear power is more greener than the fossil fuels. But it is more hazardous, when human error or other unpredicted cause leads to its misuse or escape. Its residue is also difficult to handle and to dispose with out a parallel damage.
Recently the discussions and understanding about H3 or liquid helium, which is believed to be found in some planets and the moon is a sort of seasonal fever. We have very limited knowledge about it and we are not clear or certain about the possible cons of this new direction, too.
How about the use of hydrogen as a source of energy? It is amazing when used to create combustion in small cars, and emitted as water (H2O) after burning or simply oxidation process, under heat and pressure. However is that easy for mass production? Is that found in abundance? Is there any safety concern on handling and transporting it? Is it powerful enough to drive heavy duty engines and turbines? Etc are not satisfactorily experimented and answered.
The two natural, clean, relatively cheap, available ...sources of energy are solar energy and hydro electric power. Those are the sources the whole world should rely on. Solar energy is practical and easy to access. The sun is believed to provide the solar system with its light and heat, for the coming billions of years. With the help of some chemical agents, it is also possible to store solar energy, in the form of chemical energy, that could be used, in the absence of sufficient sunlight or rays.
When we come to hydroelectric power, probably it is the safest, cleaner and with near to none risk source of energy, if any country has the natural blessing of owning typographically ready rivers. Using water as a source of energy does not interfere the natural structure of the compound water (H2O), as no chemical reaction or change takes place during the process of creating energy. Because the effect of the water on the turbines is applying pressure(P=F/A) to lead them in to generating electricity, which is capable of being used to produce light, heat, mechanical energy and so on.
The known ecological disadvantage of building a dam to produce hydro electric power is the change in the ecosystems that are directly and indirectly based on the "normal pattern of any given river's flow". It is obvious to see changes in the quality and quantity of fish reproduced in fresh water, organisms below the dam, soil that was a continuous supplier of minerals to the land below the dam etc. that's why a political decision that compares the disadvantage of not using the river to the advantage of leaving the river as is or the vice versa is vital to build a dam. It is about looking at the existing realities. Majority of decisions in the world are based on picking the advantageous choice or the best choice.
From the above stated explanations and my personal observation, what my country Ethiopia decided on using Gibe, Tekeze, Tana Beles, Nile and others to produce hydro-electric power is right and legit, when seen and weighed according to the balance of truth. I believe it was a challenge to the decision makers that raised a difficult and closed ended questions. Though I was not lucky enough to be part of this historical deal, I could visualize the scenario in which our leaders had to act, with caution, knowing that the answer for the close ended questions from either direction was always one, which is yes (a win win). Here are my speculative questions. "should we use every possible resource to tackle and defeat poverty? Is there a side effect in implementing the current plan of transforming Ethiopian economy? Should we chose projects advantageous to our people first? Is the advantage bigger than he down side? Should we follow principles instead of the need for achieving cheap popularity? Etc. I believe, the answers to all questions was yes.
When I became aware of the projects of the hydroelectric power, in Ethiopia, I was excited having the short term and the long term results of providing electricity to every household in Ethiopia, in my mind. Sufficient supply of electricity implies creating more jobs, improving quality of life to all citizens, promoting access to mass media and electronics, and largely afforestation, and so many lovely things. Such an idea comes out of genius and farsighted leaders.
For me farsighted is someone who have an insight that is not easily disturbed or interrupted, by temporary challenges. Genius is someone who applies philosophies that are practicable, in a given era, area, and other dominant and recessive factors. That's why I love what they do, even though I am not fan of their views on other aspects of their governance. I think they believe that poverty is the main cause of all crises, and reduction and eradication of poverty is next to none.
Some people think other factors like strengthening of the justice system is of equal importance to the campaign against poverty. They believe that it could be managed along with the current tasks of the government. I'd say this opinion is genuine, and I feel like those people. The government needs to do more to strengthen the justice system and to push it towards independence. The justice system itself needs to stand free, before defending others. Fundamentally, it is impossible to realize a democratic system with out the existence of independent legal system. Free and effective justice system is the pillar and corner stone to build a democratic society.
Of course we are at the twilight of democracy, and what ignites hope in my heart is knowing that there is no denial of such a fact by the government. The twilight should not necessary require another life taking sacrifice to reach at its dawn. I think what we paid is enough and the hope comes from knowing that the officials of the current government could not be avoided from being victims of the past anti democratic regimes. If we want to raise an issue of understanding freedom, who can value freedom more than those who fought for it? Concerning priority setting we all should say BRAVO DRIVER OF AND PUSH HARDER ON THE GAS, TOWARDS STRENGTHENING THE JUSTICE SYSTEM TO TRAVEL EQUAL WITH THE ANTI POVERTY RUSH. Finally I want to praise the Ethiopian people, who making history, under good leadership. As the world is craving for energy it is a number one task for us to find our way to fulfill our demand for energy, and what we are doing is honestly fantastic. Please our leaders continue with the smart move.