Sunday, 3 July 2011

Living Green Has Us Seeing Red

The past few weeks have shown us an image foreign to most UAE dwellers’ eyes. The image of one deserted petrol station after another in an oil rich country, ah the mother of all ironies. Unlike others this sight did not trigger in me the great debates of finance and economics, rather it steered me towards a different course. It got me thinking of the human being’s complete dependence on a vanishing resource, of a human being living an ephemeral life on the hopes that he shall never face its complete depletion.

Steps are being taken everyday by the United Arab Emirates’ government towards creating a country less dependent on oil. And a great effort is being exerted in the renewable energy sector to secure a future less grim than that filled with images of cars in gridlock heading towards the only operating petrol station in town.

The worrisome part of this equation is not on the corporate or governmental level but on the personal one. Everywhere we look we are being reminded of our responsibility towards the world we live in. Eco-friendly campaigns aimed at guilting us into recycling and caring for the environment are all around us yet these efforts do not seem strong enough to paint a person’s entire life green.

We all do the odd recycling here and there and most of us would opt for a recyclable bag at the grocery store instead of a plastic one but a total conversion of one’s lifestyle is a daunting thought. In order for a person to convert fully to the green world he is expected to change his entire frame of mind, he must be prepared to live a life where thinking green will be the deciding factor of all his future endeavors.

Should you be the one to take the leap then realistically there are a few other hurdles you have to overcome. Being green is expensive. Buying any of the alternative energy sources to power your home will set you back a hefty chunk of money. If you wish to use solar power you must invest in solar cells, which come at an unreasonable price for quite a reasonable idea.

But since you have committed to the lifestyle then your movement should also be green therefore it will be a horse, a bicycle or an electric car for you. In this hot and humid region the first two options are unlikely therefore, the electric car it is. If you have moved past the shallow mindset of it being quite ugly, how far do you think the electric car would get you and how fast will you really be able to maneuver in the UAE traffic? When it comes to farther destinations are you willing to forgo your vacation, which you know requires you to use a plane that burns gallons of oil, to reduce your carbon footprint? Before you answer you should know that years of your recycling will be offset by this one plane ride.

If you are still willing to convert then I tip my hat to your bravery because in addition to the above, not many people will be on board with the compulsive details of your lifestyle and you might soon find yourself feeling like a vegetarian in a meat eater’s household.

Being green is a great concept but it requires more than ad campaigns and awareness seminars. Every day cigarette boxes tell smokers that their contents will literally kill them but that does not deter the fingers from pulling one out. What must be changed is the psychology of the human mind, the greed and selfishness of the individual. As long as people put themselves first, Mother Nature will be second and as long as alternative technologies remain expensive and hard to acquire, cheap and available will be the common choice.

From a psychological viewpoint, believing in the importance of a green lifestyle seems to me as difficult as believing in a faith different than the one you follow. You are expected to change your ways and hold a new creed close to your heart. It is difficult to accept at first and as you go along there will be hard roads to tread, many will falter, but you must go on, because you believe with every ounce of your sanity that the end will be glorious.

Sometimes it takes more than persuasion to get people to believe, sometimes it takes a miracle.

Our world needs one now more than ever. 

This article was published in The Gulf Today newspaper on July 3rd, 2011. 


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