September - December 2007
Power and poisons

Power and poisons

THEY don’t necessarily go together, although today’s political scene certainly has them looking like a tightly intertwined tandem. But it’s actually energy and all sorts of toxic substances that i Report will be tackling for the rest of September and the whole month of October. So while many people keeping track of the latest political scandal these days could end up seeing red, we will be thinking green — at least much of the time, anyway.

We start with energy, with our discussions including a look at the law that privatized the local power industry. But we take up the issue of energy with an eye mainly on its impact on the environment, and with the thinking that — to paraphrase the International Energy Agency (IEA) — since power has been part of many environmental problems, including climate change, then it must be part of the solution. Some of the stories we have lined up thus explore renewable energy resources like wind power, as well as what environmentalists like to describe as more “efficient” uses of energy by corporations and by individuals.

We then move on to scrutinize how else we have managed to muck up our environment (and consequently have jeopardized our health). Obviously it’s not going to be a very pretty picture that we will be presenting, but for all we know, it’s a picture that might actually prompt some people to start checking if they have ecologically questionable habits of their own, or have them consider joining groups or activities that promote green practices. In any case, we promise to have some good news, if only to show that while we may be our (and the environment’s) own poison, we are also our own antidote.

Here’s a bit of early good news: After years of acting as if its member countries were unaffected by climate change, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has finally begun talking about the issue and has put it among the top items in its agenda for its upcoming summit in Singapore in November.

Then again, we really don’t have to wait for those in power to act for change to happen (although that would obviously help a lot). Even physicist Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and chairperson of the U.S.-based environmental “think and do tank” Rocky Mountain Institute, says there is no dearth in the things an ordinary person can do to promote energy efficiency that can help nurse the earth back to health.

According to Newsweek, Lovins himself lives “in a house that can run on the same amount of energy as a conventional light bulb.” Ever the optimist, he also told the international newsmagazine recently, “I think we will look back in a few decades and wonder what all the oil fuss was about because…we will have made this product obsolete. Oil is going to become, and has already become, uncompetitive, even at low prices, before it becomes unavailable even at high prices. So we will leave it on the ground. It’s very good for holding up the ground, but it won’t be worth extracting.”