On Benjamin Franklin’s 305th Birth Anniversary

January 17, 2011
Amritapuri Campus

If you leave your desktop monitor switched on, while on a lunch break, your seemingly insignificant action adds to the carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere and worsens global warming.

ElectricityIf you use electricity powered lights during day-time, when, if your building is designed well, natural light should provide sufficient illumination, then again you make things worse.

The problem is not with the electricity itself. If you use electricity derived from renewable sources such as wind or the sun, then you do not produce any carbon dioxide emissions.

But most of the electricity used worldwide is produced by burning fossil fuels. This releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, aggravating global warming.

In India, we use mostly coal to produce our electricity. No wonder then, that burning coal contributes to over 50% of India’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

India is home to the world’s largest coal company. Yet, we import coal to meet our energy needs. Not a very wise strategy during these difficult times.

Coal MiningThe world’s largest exporter of coal, Australia, continues to reel under the effects of unprecedented floods that have impacted hundreds of thousands of people in that continent.

The floods have also impacted 75% of that continent’s coal mines.

Major coal importers such as Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and UK, in addition to India, are worried.

But perhaps this is not the time to worry; it is the time to act. A global disruption in coal supplies might provide the best opportunity yet for coal-importers to renew their commitment to renewable sources of energy.

Electricity is so much a part of our modern urban life-styles that we cannot imagine a future without it. It powers up all our electrical appliances such as computers, cell phones, refrigerators, TVs, DVDs, washing machines and ACs.

Electric ThunderElectric cars are being offered as the alternative to fossil fuel powered transport, but they will become the answer only when we stop producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Electricity is a naturally occurring phenomenon. High voltage electricity is produced during a thunderstorm. One may remember the famous experiment performed by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, wherein a kite collected electric charge from a storm cloud.

Today is the 305th birth anniversary of Benjamin Franklin. His work, along with that of countless others, helped harness the power of electricity to make possible all modern conveniences. Will the work of others now help wean us away from electricity that is produced by burning fossil fuels?

We hope so … but in the meantime … let us do all we can to stop the wasteful ways in which we use electricity …

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