Ever since the invention of the engine, we have been increasingly dependent on concentrated sources of energy like coal, petroleum and natural gas. Lately, we have also begun to use uranium a fuel in nuclear reactors. These fuels are mined from a small number of mineralized zones in the layers of the earth. Accumulation of these enriched pockets has occurred over millions of year by a combination of very slow physical and chemical processes. It is for this reason that these fuels are end virtually non-renewable. In using these fuels we do two things. Firstly, we tend to dispense these concentrated substances over the earth’s surface and in its water and air, often disturbing their biogeochemical balance. Secondly, we reverse at an extremely fast rate, within a few generations, the earth’s slow processes which produced them over millions of years.
For example, proven local reserves of coal in this country are known to be about 80 billion tones. We mine about 150 million tons of coal annually from these reserves. This is expected to rise to 225 million tons of coal annually from these by 2000 and around 400 million tons by the turn of the century. At this rate of consumption, how long do you think these reserves would last- a mere two to three hundred years?
The danger of running out of energy resources like coal, oil and natural gas can be averted in many ways. Firstly, we must exercise great care in using energy from fossil fuels. Secondly, we must develop the technology to harness energy from the more bountiful and renewable sources of energy like the sun and waste biomass. And finally, each one of us must Endeavour to save energy from being wasted. Lights and other electric appliances left switched on even when not needed, water heated to temperatures higher than necessary and then left to cool, waste a lot of precious energy.
The requirement of energy for Agricultural, Industrial and domestic use has gone up. But the availability of energy has not been increased. We need to generate thermal and hydro-energy besides channelizing nuclear energy.
No nation facing energy crisis can be a strong and self-reliant nation. Its industrial out shall suffer considerably thus engulfing the people into the theories of poverty, unemployment and suffering and ill health. Such a country becomes very weak and vulnerable to internal strife and external aggression.
Therefore, it is time that we wake up to this problem and devise ways and means of overcoming this handicap if we want to face the world and make out people happy and healthy.