The 21st century already has a few tricky challenges to confront.
- Terrorism, and the subsequent security vs. liberty debate it has provoked.
- Religion, the freedom to practice it and the role of the state in regulating it.
- Energy, both its consumption and the control/restriction on it production.
It is energy which I'd like to discuss, as I am not involved/educated to the required level to discuss the others, yet. Climate change is the obvious issue,of which more later, but there was one news story earlier in the year that felt pertinent - the supply of gas from Russia to the Ukraine. Fairly minor on the UK news agenda, only the FT (naturally) ran it on the cover when it initially broke. The ability for one country to essentially pull the plug on another's ability to function as an economy is shocking, if not unsurprising. As global resources diminish, and there use inevitably restricted, states will need to incorporate energy consumption/production into their diplomatic strategy. This will invariably have greater consequence for 'lesser' states, historically tied to former colonial masters, but I predict it will rear its head as an issue more frequently as the century progresses.
So if production is an issue for state's, so should be consumption. Anyone who has seen An Inconvenient Truth will know the problem is no scare story. What people might not realise is that its not just up to government's to sort out the mess, we as citizens can make a difference. At the end of his presentation, Al Gore states what can be done to reverse the changes to the climate that are currently occurring at a frightening pace. One of those is individual energy use. If we all change are daily routine slightly, and consider energy consumption in the same way a dieter considers calories, a difference can be made. Organisations are here to help. The Energy Saving Trust in the UK is one. Check their site here. It recommends energy saving measures we can all take to start taking responsibility.
Another organisation is the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. An offshoot of the DTI, they give grants to individuals and companies to install renewable technology, Wind Turbines, Solar heating and the like. Renewable energy is the future, and should be considered if you're building/renovating your gaff. The guardian has an interesting(ish) article on the benefits, however it reports in the main section of the paper that the grant money has run out. A sign that however much we do, the government needs to take a serious role.
In short - we're in it together. Don't be lazy. Even more poignant if you're living in Ukraine.