THE latest research shows we will probably run out of oil in 2051. Gas reserves may run out by 2061. Coal reserves are expected to run out by the end of the century.
These numbers, however, do not take into account that rising economies in the world will consume more fossil fuels as they grow; therefore, bringing forward the date of total finis.
The depletion dates, however, should not be our main reason for using less fossil fuels as sources of energy.
With human-caused climate change, we are already seeing the effects of rising temperatures and higher water levels. Storms are getting stronger, heatwaves more punishing and floods more frequent.
Many of Malaysia’s cities may potentially be flooded. Farmers may find their crops failing more often because of uncompromising weather; putting at risk a large segment of our society’s food security.
With more weather-related emergencies, more people will be displaced, more victims will be forced out of their homes, pulled out of their daily routines and work.
Storms such as the one that hit Penang recently may become a normality. The stability we enjoy is at stake.
For our children, the future looks despairing. How will they cope?
How can Malaysia strive towards a high-income status if we continually have to spend billions of ringgit on fixing damage caused by climate-related disasters?
While our friends in the West debate climate change, we can no longer wait for them to come to a decision.
We must not be afraid to take the reins of responsibility in determining the future of our children.
As with all issues, the first step is for us to collectively agree that we have an unstoppable train steamrolling towards us.
But, rather than panicking, we need to think of solutions; alternatives for us to continue growing while maintaining a clean atmosphere without emitting more greenhouse gases.
Domestically, we need to fundamentally shift our conversation to the bigger picture.
We can no longer waste our time squabbling over things like weekly fuel prices.
Soon, there won’t be much fuel left to quarrel about.
Everyone in Malaysia needs to accept that the norms we hold true today, may not be available in the future.
The first step to solving an issue is to recognise there is one in the first place.
Some of us focus too much on issues affecting us today that we completely ignore the fact that certain demands may prove detrimental to our children tomorrow.
Some public voices demand cheaper oil, lower toll and cheaper cars. Yet, such demands will lead to more cars on the road, thereby increasing our emission of greenhouse gases.
Are we really that selfish that we cannot take on segmented sacrifices for the good of our children?
In the long term, we need to focus on climate change and ways to curb its effects. But, in the short term, it is crucial that we give equal priority to the institutions that have thus far protected us from certain traditional threats, such as extremism and radicalism.
The military and police are our main security nets. While we continue to carry segments in our society away from extremist options, these men in arms protect us from attacks and foil attempts to destabilise our region.
The issue at first may seem overwhelming. But with time and effort, solutions will arise. We can and will find the light at the end of the tunnel.
With more people thinking about the issue, our chances of producing renewable clean energy are good.
Solutions will come up. We need to be pioneering the idea of sustainability in the future. There is no more time to rely on others. This is why we need to engage in more dialogue.
The Kuala Lumpur International Youth Discourse, therefore, is a genuine platform for our youths to talk and engage with their policymakers.
This programme recognises that beyond strengthening our institutions of security, we need to focus also on curbing threats of climate change and energy sustainability.
It’s important that youths come to the event to ask questions, to give their proposals and ideas on issues that may devastate their future.
We no longer live in an era where leaders and policymakers know best all the time. There is too much at risk for one to not share opinions of a possible way forward.
The writer is Umno Youth vice-chief and a senator