Energy efficiency has brought a lot of change in our life. Especially fossil fuel changed the human civilisation altogether in the last 200-300 years. Before that we were using renewable energy only. There was no coal to be used then. There were no petrol or diesel. Half of Europe’s forests were burnt after invention of glass, till people came to know about coal. As soon as fossil fuel came the world started changing rapidly. Not only did we have roads and cars and beautiful clothes and whole lot of appliances, but some fundamental changes in human habits took place. Sun was the clock for people before the era of fossil fuel. People worked only in daytime. Night was for sleep. Even now people go to bed very early in interior villages where there is no electricity and no TV. Schools also have made it necessary for students to study at home and families to keep awake till late.
The time current parents went to bed when they were young must have been at least two hours before than their wards’ sleeping time now. And the time of waking up is also changing accordingly. However, many ‘modern’ people, who earlier used to sleep very late either working or entertaining themselves, have nowadays shifted their timetable and started having dinner just after sunset, sleep early, and rise early like their forefathers.
Our forefathers made maximum use of the solar energy or which we call renewable. After 200-300 years of making most of the fossil fuel or non-renewable sources of energy we are now afraid that the sources will dry up. Besides, there is concern of pollution, climate change, global warming etc. which can result in severe health hazard and natural disasters and even cause extinction of human race the same way a number species had already vanished from the planet.
Energy should not be looked at only from the perspective of the appliances we use in our everyday life like petrol in cars, LPG for cooking and electricity for lightning. Energy is behind every matter, living or non-living, and every matter can be converted into energy. Without energy, we not only cannot cook the food but also cannot grow the food. There is energy in a bouquet of flower as well as the roofs under which we sleep, be it concrete or tin or thatched. A solar installation replacing conventional sources, does not only lead to saving in the monthly budget, but also supports life on the earth. The ‘conversion’ from non-renewable to renewable contributes toward having lesser demand of fossil fuel or some renewable sources like hydro power and nuclear power which have larger environmental impact.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on February 29, 2017)