Posted by: GeraldineKent on Sep 06, 2011
After many weeks of blogging on sustainability, renewable energy sources, solar power, education systems, economic problems and much more... I have come to the realisation that I achieved my goal for this blog without even realising it.
My aim was to propose ways in which new media technologies could aid the development and sustainability of developing countries like South Africa. And after many weeks of struggling to argue my way to this point, I read an article that made me realise I had in fact succeeded. I say this because even if only a few people have read my blog, they may have spoken about it in social situations, taking my thoughts and ideas into their world amongst their friends. The oldest trick in the book – word-of-mouth!
And that’s all it takes really; just a couple of people reading, a few users commenting - and I have made a small difference with my laptop, an internet connection and social media. Because even though I haven’t convinced an NGO to supply solar power to all rural areas of South Africa, I have gotten more ideas out into the public sphere. And once ideas are in the public sphere, there’s no limit on how many people could hear, or read, about them.
Yes, new media technologies can aid development, and enforce sustainability – not directly through software, hardware, networks, broadband and all that nitty-gritty stuff... but through communication.
The digital divide exists – fact. South Africa has a very unequal Information Society – fact. But if those of us that are ‘connected’ continue to speak about ways to change these problems, the better chance we have of reaching ‘the big guys’ who have the power and resources to make changes to our society.
Look at this extract from an article in SustainOurEarth Weekly:
“I sometimes think that many of us have a deep-seated mania that causes us to believe that for a substance to be an effective source of energy it must be something that can be burned. Not only must it be combustible, the substance must be hard to get. This manic belief requires that the energy source must be searched out and dug up or clawed from the earth at great trouble and expense.
A watt is a watt, no matter the source that produces it.
Every watt that we add to the grid from renewables is one less watt we need from fossil fuels and the watts are being added daily. Just as our existing energy infrastructure wasn’t built overnight, the clean renewable energy of our future will be added one wind or solar farm at a time.”
All of this is true - it’s happening all over the world, hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy are being added to the grid yearly, from wind, solar, tidal and other sources in numerous countries.
But there are still many people who have not kept up with the technological advances that have made wind turbines major producers of electricity, or solar power more affordable. And that’s a problem because when people don’t understand what’s new, they stick to ‘the good old’ things.
We need to make communication the key.
New technologies need to be spoken about in as many places as possible, from a variety of viewpoints to ensure that all these advances reach as many places, people, societies or cultures, as possible.
“Fossil fuels and nuclear energy have very deep pockets. They can flood the zone with inaccuracies and spread doubt about the ability of renewable energy to do the job. They can hire armies of lobbyists and make hefty campaign contributions. They can enlist the aid of their buddies in other industries.” We need to put the same manpower behind renewable energy, sustainability and development.
It’s going to be hard to fight through the myths of old, but it’s starting to happen and we need to ensure that it grows exponentially.