Epochs ago when our ancestors roamed around in the jungles hunting animals for food, inventing wheel for travelling and drawing on cave walls for communication, they made a discovery that lighted up their lives. The fire became the first man-made source of light. And from fire to candles to light bulbs, the light has come a long way since then. In 1831 electricity became available for commercial use and now all we have to do is press a button to light up an entire room instead of rubbing two stones vigorously to start a fire. Great, isn’t it? Well okay but with great facilities come great misuses. In the world today light is treated as availability rather than necessity.
Statistics time! The net electricity consumption in India has gone up from 589 billion kilowatt-hours in 2007 to 758 billion kWh in 2012, a tremendous change of 200 billion kWh in a matter of five years. But that is not only because population and hence demand for it has increased. It is also because wastage of electricity has increased. Around 27,000 mega-watt of electricity is wasted every day! That is around 27.15 percent of the total production – more than one-quarter. And that’s not the worst part. Almost all of this electricity once wasted is wasted forever. 87.55 percent of total electricity generated in India comes from non-renewable resources. And since we can afford it, we are not even the ones who suffer the burn. In December 2011, 300 million Indians had no access to electricity because we had excess of it.
Is it right? The question doesn’t even need a thought for answer. Who is to blame? We all are. What difference can a fan left running for about an hour make, right? To tell the truth, a lot. Since such is the mentality of not just one person but many. Everyone thinks the same way and hence small chunks add up to big wastage. And even though we know it, we don’t stop it. People think that it’s their right to use as much electricity as they use since they pay for it. And hence it’s only their bill that goes up, no one else should care whether they are wasting it or not. But it’s not about their bill, it’s about our consumption. The amount of electricity generated will remain the same, it’s both our common sense and wisdom whether we waste it or let the poor use it.
Due to its eternal presence in our lives, we have never got an idea of how our life would become if light disappeared from it. It would be the same as it is during long power outings when the dark ages return. There is nothing to do during the night except sleeping, no fans or air conditioners to stop the sweat from dripping down, no televisions or laptops to entertain, no heater to keep us warm. Everything gets simple, just the life gets hard. If the misuse of electricity goes on, all this is about to become reality again. And there are real easy steps to ensure no such thing happens. Turning off the switch when not in use, how hard can that be? The amazing thing is that that’s all we need to do. Switching off unnecessary switches is going to do everything; save the electricity loses, prevent the energy crises, provide poor with the light, everything! Your role? Closing the switch.
A brilliant step towards conservation of electricity was taken in 2007 by World Wide Fund for Nature. The step involves turning off the lights for just an hour, that is, 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on the last Saturday of March every year. As simple as it may be, this step named Earth Hour has gained huge popularity as well as following from a large number of nations. Reason? Because it’s effective. During the Earth Hour 2013, Odisha was able to lower its electricity demand by 580 MW, which is its highest reduction in four years. When the whole world is busy neglecting the lights, removing them for an hour contributes a lot towards not removing them forever. More than 7000 cities from 162 countries participated in Earth Hour 2014 with 60 going even beyond the hour.
Whatever we do, it’s up to us. The only thing to keep in mind is though electricity is the need of the hour, so is conserving it. If many people neglecting it for a small time leads to huge losses, many people saving it for some time will also lead to huge gains. We continue to blame government for too many power cuts when really we are to blame. It’s us who are not even using the available electricity to its full extent and then we want government to produce more! It’s us who needs to put in an effort and it’s better if that effort comes soon because there won’t be any warning before it gets too late. The misuse of energy is not even as important an issue as is the depletion of non-renewable energy resources. The only answer, save the lights. The sooner we start saving the lights, the sooner we will light up our lives.