The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind

الإثنين 23 شباط 2009

Written by Ramsey Tesdell

For all the problems this country faces, the general thinking follows the usual line that the country has been there forever and therefore can never change; or that the problem is someone else’s fault and there is nothing we can do about it. This type of thinking is self-defeating and depressing. Despite this, the prevalence of problems should be seen as the just the opposite. Instead of being controlled by forces beyond our control, each problem provides a unique opportunity.

One such opportunity exists in energy, as Jordan imports 94% of its energy requirements. On the eve of a Euro-Jordanian Renewable Energy Conference and Expo that is being held in April, industry and government officials should announce a master plan to meet Jordan’s energy needs. This new plan should be revolutionary in the sense that it jumps ahead of the current crises and focuses on technologies that could benefit Jordan.

For example, Jordan is one of the top 10 most water scarce countries in the world. Despite this fact, the ministry of Water, the ministry of the Environment, and the ministry of Agriculture have done very little to curb excessive water usage and promote greywater recycling. Recently, a water company handed out faucet caps to help reduce the water usage. Initiatives such as this are needed for real change to take hold.

Jordan’s lack of water poses a serious risk to the political stability of the country. The next wars will be fought over the dwindling water resources in the region and lands that have been inhabited for millennia may become uninhabitable. Jordan’s lack of employment also poses a problem for the stability of the state. Youth under 24 consist of 70% or more of the population and far outnumber the number of jobs available and the number of jobs being created.

Water and unemployment can be see as two important problems for Jordan, but at the same time they should be seen as opportunities. The government should entice the private sector to begin developing water saving technologies and begin installing them in urban areas. The state owned petrol company should start using the huge profit the company makes every year through its monopoly, and invest in technologies such as wind farms and solar panels.

I’ve been in the desert when the wind has blown hard for days at a time. I’ve felt the cool breezes that refresh Amman during the hot summer evenings. These winds can create energy to power homes, business, but also, if industry can develop the technology, this technology can be exported around the world. Other countries are jumping on the green economy bandwagon, but Jordan has the experience, the technology, and a hungry workforce to be utilized.

Water saving technologies and techniques to gather water have been used since the beginning of civilization. Jordan was at the heart of this, and now that tradition can be tapped and coordinated with new technology to create exportable water-saving technologies. By creating the technology and implementing it, Jordan can tackle two of the biggest problems facing the country.

Some may dismiss this latest trend as just that: a fad that will soon pass. However this trend won’t pass. Unless we go back to the times of candles and hand-pumped water, I see no end for the need of energy. And with the growing concern about the environment, rightly so but 50 years too late, the time is perfect to invest in jobs and to meet energy needs.

The government should announce a plan to subsidize and heavily fund initiatives in this direction. Enticing the private sector through a series of initiatives and financial incentives can bring Jordan’s energy sector quickly up to speed. Utilizing the droves of engineers, none of whom can find jobs, and put them to work building Jordan into a leader of green technology. That is a economic stimulus plan that everyone can get behind, not the rescue of a few select companies.

The answer, my friends, is blowin’ in the wind and shining in the sun.

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