Canberra and its intellectual exchange opportunities

Published in Australia Awards, ARG News, May 2013

by Fitrian Ardiansyah,

Original link:

Canberra is like a second home to me. This is a city that I not only hold close to my heart but also value highly since it is a place enriched with opportunities for intellectual exchanges, harbouring some of the best Australian academic, political and historical sites—namely the Australian National University (ANU), the Parliament House and many other known museums.

The first period I spent in this beautiful landscape was back in 1999-2001. I had spent two years of my life undertaking graduate diploma and master courses at the ANU with the support of the Australia Awards.

It was a life changing experience.

This was the time when my academic logical thinking and writing skills were harnessed and sharpened. Since then, I have managed to produce more than 70 published op-eds, book chapters, journal articles and reports—the majority in English. I cannot be grateful enough to my lecturers and academic supervisors at the ANU as well as my peers.

This was also the time I experienced the dynamics of Indonesia, internally and as part of the Asian-Australian geopolitical realm. The year 1999 was a historical one marked with the first Indonesian election after the reform and, of course, the referendum of East Timor.

People in Australia followed the news in Indonesia eagerly. At one point, the administration of the Embassy of Indonesia needed to be relocated to another place since there were frequent demonstrations on issues pertaining East Timor taking place just outside the embassy.

Many Australian friends and other international students asked my opinion about the situation and whether Indonesia could be successful in overcoming this adversity.

As a nation, albeit facing various difficult challenges, we proved that we certainly could overcome our own adversity and change our future for the better.

Canberra provided me with another valuable opportunity to connect with Australian professionals, businesses and civil servants who have great interests in Indonesia. Through the Australia-Indonesia Business Education Network (AIBEN), in which I was actively involved, I had great experience serving as an intern at Environment Australia and presenting my master thesis before a number of key people at this institution.

This excellent connection has been maintained to this day.

When I went back to Indonesia, the overall knowledge, skills and experience obtained in Canberra have definitely made me a much more confident person.

Therefore, after working for quite a while on environmental, climate change and sustainability issues in Indonesia as well as at regional and global levels, the offer to apply for another scholarship to pursue a PhD in Australia was a no-brainer to me.

I did my IELTS test and was interviewed in 2009. That same year, the Australia Awards office and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta informed me that not only was I granted an Australia Awards Leadership Program that would support me in undertaking my PhD study, I was also granted the Allison Sudradjat Award—named after an AusAID leading figure who died in the airplane crash in 2007.

It was like a dream come true.

The choice of the city for me is of course Canberra again.

My second journey in Canberra commenced in June 2010. That year I was also double—if not triple—blessed because my wife received an Australia Awards Leadership Program at the end of 2010 to help her pursue her master study and it was the year our little daughter was born.

Canberra is the right city to balance one’s academic and family lives. It offers abundant green sceneries and fresh air. Since we like running and outdoor activities, the city is perfect as it offers lots of running and cycling tracks.

When it comes to advancing intellectual interaction among academics and professionals, Canberra has no shortage of platforms, activities and initiatives. In fact, I was asked to be a coordinator of one of the initiatives, Indonesia Synergy (IS).

IS is a knowledge network initiated by young Indonesian scholars from various universities in Canberra, Australia. It aims to facilitate the sharing of information and exchange of ideas as well as academic and professional networking with a strong Indonesian focus.

We managed to convene frequent discussions and speeches including those delivered by well-known leaders from Indonesia, Australia and other countries. Through IS, we also brought about a closer connection among students, professionals and key institutions such as AusAID, the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, as well as universities and research institutions in Indonesia and Australia.

If anyone is looking for a rich intellectual discourse, Canberra is the city to be in.

Also, with this year’s centenary celebration at this capital city of Australia, students are further experiencing cultural, historical, political and academic exchanges and we are definitely part of this joy and celebration.

The writer is PhD Candidate at the Australian National University and the recipient of the Australia Awards Leadership Program and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Note: For further information on Australia Awards Scholarship, please check: and


Hot, clean and complex: Unlocking Indonesia’s geothermal power

Strategic Review, The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs, January-March 2013, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp 72-85,

by Fitrian Ardiansyah and Adhityani Putri

Geothermal_Strategic Review_FA_2013The first parts of the article can be read below, the remaining section can be read if you are subscribed to Strategic Review

Indonesia has huge potential geothermal resources, but develop­ment has been slow and speeding it up is considered a herculean task. The high cost of investment and lack of government capac­ity are often cited as hindrances to development, along with familiar concerns from the era of decentralized government about unclear regulatory and institutional frameworks.

Finding solutions to these issues is critical to further unlocking this indigenous, clean and renewable source of power. Success could bring positive benefits to the country’s energy security and climate change mitigation efforts.

Indonesia can no longer depend on fossil fuels, particularly oil, to power its economy. Soaring global oil prices have placed consid­erable strain on the economy. According to the Finance Ministry, energy subsidies – from both fuel and electricity – in 2012 cost the government $18.55 billion (17 percent of government expenditures). This is a significant increase from $9.78 billion in 2010, as shown by several studies.The figure could even be higher since it reportedly underestimates the actual global oil price.

With Indonesia’s projected gross domes­tic product growth to remain steady at 4-6 percent and industrial production to slightly increase over the next couple of years, sev­eral studies, including from the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC) and the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry (MEMR), have estimated that the power sector is projected to grow from 120 tWh (terawatt-hour) in 2005 to 970 tWh by 2030.

If Indonesia continues to depend on oil, rising electricity needs would lead to the depletion of Indonesia’s domestic oil reserves sooner than expected. A 2012 statement from the energy ministry estimated that the country’s remaining 10 billion barrels of oil reserves will be exhausted in the next 20 years should no new reserves be found. In fact, the country has been a net importer of both crude oil and refined products since 2004.

The formidable task of meeting rising electricity demand requires a funda­mental change in Indonesia’s energy policies, programs and actions. The country could opt for an easier solution, such as utilizing its abundant coal reserves. According to a 2009 World Bank report, the central government already has initiated a “crash program” to bring 10,000 MW (megawatt) of coal-fired power plants online as stipulated in Presi­dential Decree No 71.

Many critics, however, argue that while coal-fired power plants can alleviate short-term supply problems and reduce depen­dency on imported oil, the approach fails to address energy security goals and more im­portantly casts a shadow on the government’s pledge to tackle climate change and reduce emissions.

Key Indonesian stakeholders in­terviewed in 2011 believed that the new coal power plants – purchased at low cost from China – were mostly dirty and inefficient, according to the paper, “An Environmental Perspective on Energy Development in In­donesia” included in the 2012 book “Energy and Non-Traditional Security in Asia.” If the use of coal continues to dominate the power sector, many experts predict that increased CO2 emissions from electricity generation by 2030 could reach 810 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e), an increase of nearly seven times the amount in 2005.

To read the complete article: Subscribe now

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University.

Adhityani Putri is a postgraduate scholar at the Australian National University.

About Strategic Review:

The Strategic Review is the Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs with its editorial board led by Dr Hassan Wirajuda (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and its advisory board consists of Prof Juwono Sudarsono (Former Minister of Defense), Let Gen (Ret) Agus Widjojo (Executive Board in the Partnership for Governance Reform), Prof. John Thomas (Harvard Kennedy School of Government USA), Prof. Erhard Friedberg (Sciences Po France) and Prof Arne Westad (London School of Economics UK).

Rio+20 and the fate of sustainable development

Strategic Review

The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs, by Fitrian Ardiansyah, 18 May 2012

Original link:

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), being held in June in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, will undoubtedly raise a critical question about how far countries have advanced sustainable development and mitigated environmental degradation.

Sustainable development, defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, was introduced in the 1987 Brundtland Report and reaffirmed 20 years ago in Rio. This is why this year’s UNCSD is also known as Rio+20, marking the 20th anniversary of one of the famous large-scale gatherings on environmental issues, the 1992 Earth Summit, which was held in the same city.

During the 1992 Earth Summit, world leaders agreed to uphold sustainable development, demonstrated by, among others, the adoption of Agenda 21, the signings of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the issuance of the Declaration of Forest Principles. Agenda 21 is a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection at the global, national and local levels.

The CBD, signed by 150 government leaders, provides a platform to achieve sustainable development since it recognizes crucial functions and services of biodiversity and natural ecosystems that directly and indirectly support people and their needs. The Forest Principles, which focuses particularly on forest ecosystems, is the first global consensus that encourages nations to conserve, restore and manage these already fragile and threatened resources.

Another major breakthrough in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the signing of the UNFCCC. The convention created an umbrella for global efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change, which is perceived as one of the biggest threats to human civilization. With the UNFCCC, nations recognize that the climate system is a shared resource and all governments and people on our planet have the responsibility to ensure its stability.

Two decades have passed since the first UNCSD, yet progress toward the achievement of the objectives of the above conventions and commitments, according to many scholars, has been very slow.

In the 2010 editorial section of Wiley’s Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) of Climate Change—Climate and Development, Daniel Murdiyarso of the Center for International Forestry Research argued that global programs and actions to achieve safe drinking water, improved health and reduced mortality, food security and reduced hunger, and environment sustainability – as also reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – fell very short toward their targets.

When commenting about the MDGs in 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “We have made important progress toward all eight goals, but we are not on track to fulfill our commitments.”

With regard to food security and the use of land and water, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, for example, reported in 2011 that although agricultural production has as much as tripled due to significant increases in the yield of major crops, global achievements in production in some regions have been associated with degradation of land and water resources and the deterioration of related ecosystem goods and services.

The report indicated that significant biomass, carbon storage, soil health, water storage and supply, biodiversity and social and cultural services have been negatively affected by the global agriculture production from the use of 11 percent of the world’s land surface and 70 percent of all water withdrawn from aquifers, streams and lakes for crop production. In the same report, agricultural policies are viewed to have primarily benefitted farmers with productive land and access to water, bypassing the majority of small-scale producers who are still locked in a poverty trap of high vulnerability, land degradation and climatic uncertainty.

In Indonesia, a 2008 study written by Sugiyanto and Candra R Samekto of the ministries of Public Works and National Development Planning revealed that the country had already experienced water shortages in some areas during the dry season and flood events during the rainy season.

Specific water issues that Indonesia faces, as described in this study, include in imbalance between supply and demand in a spatial and temporal perspective and degraded river basins. For instance, increasing water demand – the total water needs of the country was 112.3 billion cubic meters in 2003 and approximately 117.7 billion cubic meters in 2009 – combined with limited water availability will certainly aggravate the water scarcity problem and trigger water conflict.

Biodiversity is also under threat. In the 2010 State of the Planet’s Biodiversity, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) provided gloomy facts. Species extinction is a natural part of Earth’s evolution, the reported noted, but during the past 100 years humans have increased the extinction rate by at least 100 times compared to the natural rate.

The report stated that virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems have been dramatically transformed through human actions; for example, 35 percent of mangroves and 20 percent of coral reefs have been lost. The report further argued that important ecosystems continue to be converted for agricultural and other uses at a constant pace during at least the past century.

In the 2010 State of Biodiversity of Asia and the Pacific, UNEP ranked Indonesia second after Australia as having the most threatened plant and animal species in the region. This is due to, among other things, high rates of fragmentation and net loss of forests that have continued in many countries in Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2009.

Still, 20 years after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, it is not all doom and gloom for the Earth and its people. Increasing collaborative works among state and non-state actors or between businesses and nongovernmental organizations have brought about gradual but important changes toward achieving sustainable development.

The development and application of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a pioneering certification scheme for forest products harvested based on strict environmental, social and economic criteria – is an example of a concrete step forward from the 1992 Forest Principles. Under the FSC, more than 130 million hectares of forest and 8.5 percent of forest products in international trade are now certified, allowing important reforms in the relevant chains of custody and behavioral changes of end consumers. Other forest certification schemes have also been developed.

A similar case can be argued about the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a certification scheme for wild-caught seafood. To date, this scheme has produced more than 100 MSC-certified fisheries and 7,000 certified products available worldwide.

When it comes to the protection of large-scale threatened biodiversity and ecosystems, a multi-partners work that launched a 10-year initiative to preserve 12 percent, or 60 million hectares, of the Brazilian Amazon under the Amazon Region Protected Area can be used as a showcase. The protected area and other similar efforts in the Amazon are the world’s largest in situ conservation schemes, creating more than 30 million hectares of protected areas, ensuring further protection and improved management of 80 percent of the Amazon’s original forest and establishing a $29 million conservation fund.

Similar efforts have taken place in the Central Africa and Southeast Asia regions, such as the adoption of the Yaoundé Declaration (resulting in the protection and sustainable management of more than 10 percent of the Congo forest), and the creation of the Heart of Borneo (conservation and sustainable management of 22 million hectares of forest and terrestrial ecosystems).

In marine areas, comparable efforts have been undertaken through the Coral Triangle Initiative, a multilateral partnership of six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) formed in 2009 to address the urgent threats facing the coastal and marine resources of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on Earth.

Such progress, however, can only be further continued if existing and future threats, particularly from unsustainable land use and marine activities, are mitigated and important enabling conditions are improved, namely good economic policies that create positive incentives, good governance, clear land tenure and environmentally-friendly infrastructure development.

Rio+20, under one of the two themes of its upcoming conference, “Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication,” provides a venue for countries to openly and informally discuss comprehensive approaches using a green economy concept to address such threats and improve enabling conditions and propose solutions.

By using the green economy concept, it is expected that countries can be helped to transform their engines of economic growth, particularly through shifting investments – public and private, domestic and international – towards emerging green sectors and the greening of existing sectors, complemented by changes to unsustainable consumption patterns.

Such transformation is crucial to ensure sustainable development in most countries, especially developing countries including Indonesia. Without significant transformation in countries’ economies, sustainable development is likely to remain an oxymoron concept.

Indonesia, as a large developing country, has a real stake and hence is required to come up with a strong position to negotiate so that countries agree at Rio+20 for a worldwide transition toward a green economy and concrete application of sustainable development.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a Climate and Sustainability Specialist, doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and the recipient of the Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

The energy challenge


Original link:


Indonesia is rich in renewable energy but government policies foster reliance on fossil fuels

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest energy producer and consumer. Its reliance on dirty and subsidised fossil fuels means it has made little progress in terms of renewable energy. Yet Indonesia has enormous renewable energy potential. Energy sources such as geothermal power could readily meet up to 40 per cent of the country’s energy needs.

Unless reversed, Indonesia’s current trends of expanding coal-fired power plants in order to respond to energy shortages and of heavily subsidising dirty energy will see the country fall radically short of its 2025 renewable energy targets. These trends will also continue to drain the country’s financial resources and deplete government budgets.

But switching to renewable energy won’t be easy. Removing fuel subsidies is a sensitive political issue. Promoting renewable energy requires structural adjustment and high levels of initial investment. Yet these are the conundrums which need to be urgently resolved if Indonesia wants to secure its energy, develop its economy and tackle climate change.


Increasing energy demand

Who would have thought that such a resource rich country would one day have difficulties securing and providing basic energy to its citizens? Indonesia has a plentiful supply of accessible energy sources, both from fossil fuels and renewables, and is the largest energy producer in Southeast Asia. Yet the country is struggling to keep up with its own energy demands.

Historical data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources show that energy demand has been increasing faster than economic development and population growth. According to the Green Policy Paper released by the Finance Ministry, total energy demand is growing by around seven per cent per year, as the transport and industrial sectors grow, and as households become more affluent.

A large proportion of this demand has been met by polluting fossil fuels, mainly oil. A consequence of this skyrocketing demand is that since 2004 Indonesia had become a net-importer of both crude oil and refined products.

With a production capacity of half a billion barrels per year and increasingly limited oil reserves, it is estimated that Indonesia’s remaining 10 billion barrels of oil reserves will be exhausted in less than 20 years. If no new reserves are found, with the increasing demand for energy and a ‘business as usual’ approach, Indonesia will be a significant oil importing country in less than two decades. Already, dramatic increases in average global oil prices have hit Indonesia’s purse strings.


Electricity shortages

More than 70-80 million people, or almost one third of Indonesia’s 225 million inhabitants, lack access to electricity. These people mostly live in rural areas and the outer islands. In 2004 for instance, 90 per cent of rural households had no electricity compared to only 16 per cent in urban areas, and the electrification ratio in Papua and Nusa Tenggara was only 20-30 per cent.

Most power generation today is from conventional thermal sources including fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. Less than 20 per cent comes from hydroelectric, geothermal and other renewable sources. Hence, the high price of oil on the global market has not only made it more expensive to produce and import gasoline, but has also led to increasing electricity-generation costs.

Electricity is heavily subsidised and currently customers pay for electricity at far below market price. The state owned electricity company PLN, however, is required to buy energy at the market price – as stipulated in Presidential Decree number 55 of 2005 – and it struggles to do so. Fuel is also heavily subsidised by the government. Together, fuel and electricity subsidies have created a massive burden on the state budget. Their estimated cost to the government in 2010 is US$9.78 billion, and in 2011 had already hit US$3.68 billion by March.


Reliance on subsidies

The subsidies have various perverse economic implications. In 2008 the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs admitted that indiscriminate fuel subsidies have been a poor way to pursue welfare transfers from rich to poor, because the wealthiest 40 per cent of households capture 70 per cent of the subsidies. Moreover, and very relevant to the issue of climate change, subsidies lead to overconsumption of energy because the actual cost of that energy is not reflected in the price that consumers pay. Many reports suggest that subsidies discourage energy efficiency measures and the development of alternative or renewable energy sources by way of low electricity tariffs.

Adjusting prices and removing subsidies could promote better energy efficiency and conservation. There is plenty of room for improvement. Some studies show that Indonesia could relatively painlessly achieve increased energy efficiency, by as much as 10-30 per cent in households, 10-23 per cent in the commercial sector and 7-21 per cent in industry. In 2009 Agus Purnomo the special advisor to the president on climate change stated that cutting subsidies on fossil fuels would bolster the competitiveness of renewable energy sources. The logic is that the money previously used for subsidies could be utilised to help seed investment in renewable energy development, reaching the country’s sustainable energy growth path.

However, eliminating fuel subsidies has never been an easy task. Many ordinary Indonesians hate the idea of paying more for fuel, electricity and related services. Throughout the past ten years, the government has had some success at whittling away at these subsidies but the issue remains politically contentious. The parliament in particular is reluctant to take action.


Renewables: potentials and challenges

As well as taking action on the demand side, the government could take action on the supply side by providing more support for renewable energy. Indonesia possesses a variety of renewable energy resources, including geothermal, solar, micro-hydro, wind and bio-energy. Indeed, Indonesia has more geothermal energy potential than any other country. Most estimates put the potential reserves at 28,000 megawatts, which could meet some 40 per cent of national electricity demand. Yet currently Indonesia only uses 4.2 per cent of that potential.

The central government’s general energy policy advocates diversification of energy sources and conversion from coal and petroleum-based fuels to renewable energy sources, with the overall goal being to reduce emissions. Nonetheless, promotion of renewable resource development over the last five years has progressed very slowly. At present renewable energy production (hydropower, geothermal and biomass) makes use of only 3.4 percent of total potential reserves. This low figure is partly because shifting the country’s energy portfolio to renewables would require massive investment.

Another obstacle is Indonesia’s very system of government. Not only is the bureaucracy lacking in capacity and resources, and riddled by inter-departmental tension, at the national level. But the decentralised system of government, and the resulting division of power between central and local governments also impedes national coordination in delivering a policy of transition to renewable energy. Under decentralisation, local governments have been given the rights and responsibility to issue concessions and licenses for renewable energy. However, most local governments have very limited capacity or understanding of the implications of various energy scenarios. There is no established policy framework through which to encourage local governments to pursue renewable energy initiatives.


Between a rock and a hard place

Currently, Indonesia’s total power generation capacity is 21 gigawatts, but the actual rated capacity is just 18 gigawatts, two-thirds of which is concentrated in Java, Madura and Bali. Electricity demand grows by 9 per cent per year on average, hence the current capacity is no longer sufficient. The pressure to meet the energy shortfall is immediate and pressing, and a cause of discontent both to those who are beyond the reach of the existing grid, and those who are part of it but increasingly subject to black outs.

The government faces dilemmas in working out how to meet the expectations of these groups. Continuing the use of subsidised oil will cost the country’s economy. Increasing the use of coal – the current policy envisages the construction of coal-fired power plants with a total capacity of 10,000 megawatts – will meet demand in the short term but it does not provide a long term solution since the plants are mostly inefficient. Coal-fired plants also contradict Indonesia’s commitment to tackling climate change, and also produce other environmental harm, such as smog and acid rain.

On the other hand, despite the potential of renewable energy in Indonesia, the preference for coal and previously oil have seen this sector grow only sluggishly. Successful renewable energy development would address escalating concerns over environmental issues and reduces dependency on conventional energy resources. However, to get there, significant investment and serious governance reforms are needed.

This is ripe for Indonesia to make tough but right decisions about its future energy needs. The Indonesian government needs to stiffen its political resolve to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels. Actions to reform policy incoherence, remove structural impediments and promote investments in renewable energy are also needed. Mixing various sources of funds from the private sector and international funding institutions, and encouraging investments with pricing and tax reforms could promote investment in renewable energy. Strong leadership and clear guidance from the top, notably from the president and his cabinet is needed.


Fitrian Ardiansyah ( is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University, and was formerly program director for climate and energy at WWF-Indonesia.

This article was re-published in Climate Spectator (Indonesia’s dirty energy challenge, 1 August 2011), East Asia Forum (Indonesia’s energy challenge, 26 August 2011) and Jakarta Globe (Renewable energy’s slow road in Indonesia, 27 August 2011):



Ketika Pilihan Kita Bisa Mengubah Dunia

(Klik disini untuk melihat versi pdf-nya Esquire_FA

Bukan hanya demi kenyamanan hidup, tetapi bagi bumi yang kita tinggali bersama.

Majalah ESQUIRE INDONESIA, Fitrian Ardiansyah, Oktober 2010, halaman 70-72

Manusia, termasuk kita pria dewasa, telah mendiami bumi paling tidak selama 200 ribu tahun. Hanya saja, di sekitar dua abad terakhir, manusia telah secara dramatis mengubah kehidupan di bumi. Pembangunan ekonomi yang terus pesat, peradaban manusia yang kian canggih, bahkan eksplorasi luar angkasa dan kedalaman lautan serta komunikasi antar benua menjadi hal yang biasa.

Di sisi lainnya, konsumsi dan gaya hidup manusia yang meningkat seiring pertumbuhan ekonomi memberikan akibat yang juga tidak kalah seriusnya. Laporan PBB pada 2007 memperlihatkan bahwa telah terjadi perubahan terhadap lingkungan yang kita diami di tingkat lokal, regional maupun global. Suhu muka bumi semakin panas!

Secara alami, permukaan bumi diselimuti oleh selubung tipis Gas Rumah Kaca (GRK) seperti karbon dioksida (CO2), metana (CH4), dan gas lainnya. Ketika masuk atmosfer bumi, panas matahari melewati selubung tipis ini. Sebagian radiasi panasnya diserap oleh tanah, tumbuhan, dan ekosistem lainnya. Sebagian lagi dipantulkan oleh bumi ke luar angkasa, dan sisanya dipantulkan kembali oleh selubung GRK ke bumi. Maka itu bumi terasa hangat dan selimut GRK ini secara alami sangat penting.

Hanya saja, aktivitas ekonomi dan keseharian manusia menghasilkan by-product, berbentuk GRK tambahan yang kian hari kian “mempertebal” selimut tipis di atmosfer tadi. Jejak karbon atau istilah bahasa inggrisnya adalah carbon footprint adalah suatu ukuran dari aktivitas manusia yang menimbulkan dampak terhadap lingkungan, yang diukur dari berapa banyak by-product (GRK) yang dihasilkan, biasanya dihitung dalam ukuran unit CO2

GRK sebagai hasil samping aktivitas manusia ini sebagian besar berasal dari industri,  penggunaan bahan bakar minyak bumi dan batu bara, pembangkit listrik, transportasi, termasuk akibat penggundulan atau kebakaran hutan dan lahan, serta aktivitas pertanian dan peternakan. Alat-alat elektronik yang kita pakai, mobil yang kita kendarai, rumah yang kita tempati, baju yang kita pakai, dan makanan yang kita santap semua mengandung jejak karbon. Anda bisa menghitung sendiri berapa jejak karbon yang Anda hasilkan dengan menggunakan kalkulator yang disediakan di atau

Bila terus meningkat, konsentrasi GRK atau karbon ini akan menghalangi radiasi panas matahari. Radiasi yang sebagian semestinya kembali ke luar angkasa, malah  dipantulkan kembali ke bumi yang menyebabkan bumi semakin panas!

Pemanasan bumi atau pemanasan global pada gilirannya bisa mengakibatkan es di kutub dan gletser di Himalaya mulai mencair hingga menyebabkan kenaikan muka air laut. Akibatnya, sebagai negara kepulauan, Indonesia diramalkan akan kehilangan ratusan bahkan ribuan pulau. Hal ini tentunya merupakan ancaman terhadap batas dan keamanan negara.

Kenaikan permukaan air laut juga akan mengganggu kehidupan 30 juta orang yang hidup di kota-kota dan desa-desa pinggir pantai. Karena kondisi ini, sebagian dari mereka harus mengungsi dan sektor-sektor penting seperti pariwisata dan perikanan bisa mengalami kerugian besar.

Hal lain yang sulit dihindari manusia akibat pemanasan global yang berujung pada perubahan iklim adalah pergeseran musim dan meningkatnya frekuensi dari hujan, badai tropis, serta kekeringan. Anda tentu juga merasakannya. Bahkan di musim kemarau pun, hujan bisa turun  deras berhari-hari.

Menurut Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Nasional Indonesia, dalam kurun waktu 2003-2005 bencana alam yang terkait dengan cuaca mencapai 1.429 kasus atau 53,3% dari total bencana alam yang terjadi di Indonesia. Pergeseran musim telah dan akan terus menjadi ancaman terbesar bagi sektor pertanian di Pulau Jawa dan Bali. Sejauh ini pergeseran musim telah membawa dampak menurunnya produksi beras di wilayah ini sebanyak 7-18%.

Selain yang berskala global dan nasional, laporan PBB juga mengingatkan akan dampak buruk lingkungan lokal yang telah kita rasakan bersama. Pencemaran udara, air dan meningkatnya sampah – sesuatu yang sering kita rasakan di Jakarta dan kota besar lainnya di Indonesia – hilangnya sumber daya alam (termasuk hutan), merupakan “daftar hitam” akibat samping yang dihasilkan oleh aktivitas ekonomi dan gaya hidup manusia. Sebagai contoh, tiap harinya Jakarta menghasilkan 6.000 ton sampah. Dari jumlah tersebut, hanya 5% yang diolah, sisanya terbuang begitu saja, menyebabkan banjir dan mencemari air.

Pencemaran udara adalah masalah berikutnya yang diakibatkan sektor transportasi  yang ruwet dan karenanya menimbulkan kemacetan yang parah. Setiap tahun jumlah kendaraan pribadi (motor dan mobil) meningkat tanpa opsi yang memadai dalam pembangunan transportasi publik. Stress dan infeksi saluran pernapasan atas akibat pencemaran udara telah menjadi gejala sehari-hari masyarakat perkotaan.  Air bersih juga semakin menipis dan kualitasnya memburuk.

Lalu, hal apakah yang masih bisa kita lakukan? Apakah kontribusi kita yang tidak seberapa memadai bisa mengubah keadaan yang sudah “terlanjur” seperti saat ini? Ketika ditanya tentang permasalahan lingkungan, aktor Leonardo DiCaprio pernah berujar : “it talks about personal transformation and environmental consciousness that we need to have in this generation to implement a lot of these changes that need to occur”.

Ya, diri kita sendiri yang bisa mengubah dunia menjadi lebih baik. Perubahan individu sekecil apa pun dimulai dari generasi kita yang bisa menentukan jalur hidup bumi dan penghuninya. Sebagai pria dewasa yang memegang kendali keputusan hidupnya sendiri, sudah saatnya kita juga bisa berbangga dengan menentukan secara positif kendali hidup kita dan generasi berikutnya di bumi.

Menyelematkan bumi dan mengatasi permasalahan lingkungan mungkin sering dipikir sebagai sesuatu yang sulit dan memberatkan. Padahal, satu aksi sederhana bisa berkontribusi nyata dalam penyelamatan bumi. Sebagai contoh, saat sedang membeli sesuatu, seringkali kita lupa mencari tahu lebih jauh apakah produk yang kita beli memberi berdampak baik atau tidak terhadap lingkungan, tidak peduli merek atau harga.

Ketika ingin memiliki rumah atau tinggal dalam apartemen, apakah kita sudah memilihnya berdasarkan konsep hemat energi dan struktur rumah yang ramah lingkungan? Apakah ketergantungan rumah atau apartemen yang kita idamkan terhadap energi bisa disiasati dengan penggunaan lampu dan peralatan elektronik hemat energi? Kalau pun menggunakan kayu, apakah kayu yang kita pakai berasal dari kayu yang legal dan tersertifikasi berasal dari hutan yang dikelola secara lestari (seperti mendapatkan cap ekolabel atau FSC/Forest Stewardship Council)?

Setelah tempat tinggal, mobilitas adalah keniscayaan bagi pria dewasa profesional dan aktif.  Pilihan yang utama adalah memiliki mobil yang nyaman dan dapat kita andalkan. Di banyak negara, termasuk Indonesia, kini tersedia kendaraan yang ramah energi, seperti berteknologi hybrid, berbahan bio-diesel atau bio-etanol, atau bahkan electric cars. Sejumlah aktor-aktor Hollywood seperti Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, dan Ed Norton juga dikabarkan memiliki dan menggunakan mobil ramah energi. Ini adalah contoh yang baik untuk kita tiru. Gaya, tetap bisa mobile, dan berkontribusi terhadap bumi.

Selain itu, secara kreatif kita juga bisa membiasakan diri dengan program car pooling (dengan teman-teman kantor), atau setidaknya satu atau dua hari dalam seminggu mengkombinasikan dengan naik sepeda (bike to work) atau menggunakan transportasi publik.

Untuk mendukung aktivitas sehari-hari serta sebagai medium hiburan, gadget elektronik sudah pasti adalah senjata utama. Dari ponsel, laptop, televisi dan home theatre bukan hanya menambah kenyamanan hidup tetapi juga bisa menjadi penanda seberapa sukses kita.

Mungkinkah kemudian kita menggunakan pemilihan gadget tersebut juga sebagai penanda seberapa peduli kita terhadap lingkungan?

Di Indonesia memang belum terlihat adanya rating energy saving, yang mengindikasikan tinggi rendahnya konsumsi energi suatu produk tersebut. Namun konsumen bisa dengan mudah melihat review secara online ataupun lewat media lainnya sebelum membeli.

Selain itu, alat-alat elektronik yang ada di rumah dan kantor sebaiknya dipergunakan secara bijak. Menurut analisis yang dilakukan WWF-Indonesia, terdapat potensi penghematan energi 10-30% bila masyarakat mulai terbiasa memadamkan lampu dan alat-alat elektronik yang tidak diperlukan. Beaya akibat penghematan energi ini juga bisa mengurangi beban pemerintah – yang  tentunya uang rakyat hasil pajak – dan pada gilirannya bisa digunakan untuk kepentingan masyarakat lainnya.

Pada akhirnya, beragam hal bisa kita lakukan untuk ambil bagian dalam penyelamatan bumi, penyelamatan hidup kita dan generasi yang akan datang. Refleksi terhadap bumi terungkap indah dalam ucapan Al Gore berikut:

You see that pale [Earth], blue dot? That’s us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human history, has happened on that pixel. All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars, all the famines, all the major advances… it’s our only home. And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization. I believe this is a moral issue, it is your time to cease this issue, it is our time to rise again to secure our future.