Homo sapiens is facing the twin challenges of environmental pollution and militarism.  Each is potentially destructive enough on its own to lead to the extinction of our species.  In addition, they may each escalate the intensity of the other.  As food and water become more scarce, we all will inevitably ratchet up our determination to do what we need to do to survive.  If the cost is bombs from drones or on the backs of suicide bombers, whether its nuclear or germ warfare, if  survival is the issue, our assaults on others will almost certainly increase.

Globalization exacerbates the problem as well.  In the days when we lived as hunter-gatherers, we fought over food.  But those fights were rarely to the death.  There were other fields where the losers could hunt and gather.  But today we can no longer hide away or walk away from peoples who disagree with us, or who have what we want.

But I also have hope that a combination of altruism and ingenuity will pull us through this.  Every once in a while I see reason to hope that enough of us around the world will recognize our common humanity.  With that comes a recognition that we all have human rights that go beyond our religious and ethnic differences.  Your gods or mine do not make us more or less worthy of care and concern and respect.  Our different religious views do not give us the right to kill each other.

There are times too when our capacity for ingenuity and creativity is also a springboard of hope.  Maybe after all we can do it. Maybe we can figure out how to preserve our planet and each other at the same time.

What if, for instance, we could figure out how to run all our cars on water?  The Japanese have done it.  They have produced a car that will run on any kind of water –  on rain water, ocean water, drinking water, even tea.  It will run at 80 kilometers an hour (about 50 mph) for an hour on a liter (about a quart) of water.  A couple of quarts of water can be carried as back up, to run another hundred miles or so.  A couple of gallons will run the car for another eight hours.  The car works by generating hydrogen from the water, which in turn runs the car.

It’s difficult to estimate just how much a car like this might reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming because although the number of cars  being driven worldwide is increasing every year, so too is the efficiency of the cars.  My best guess is that cars produce about 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, but don’t quote me.

The Japanese hope to start mass production.  No price has been set yet.

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About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
This entry was posted in Great Ideas, saving our home - thoughts about global warming, Tolerance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to

  1. Henk Meevis says:

    Hello Terry, I attach some comment on your motor car futuristic words. I trust you will find some sense in it.
    What is a weapon? It could be a sewing needle. It might be a 5 pound hammer. It also could be a handgun or similar instrument. All could be used to kill, depending on circumstances such as emotional pressure like a “crime pasionelle” for instance in case you find a stranger screwing your wife without your permission.

    On the other hand it could also be a motor car. Millions of these killing machines get into many incompetent hands, and fully licensed, becoming then the weapon in such incompetent hands, for themselves and their victims, leading to the end of the road and become part of state statistics. Literally speaking.

    Now where does all this end? Should the political will exist for it to end at some time in the future, there could a PPP decision made to limit the proliferation of the killing machine. Although this is, expectantly, not likely to happen in a hurry. In addition to being a true killing machine, the motor car happens also to be a very profitable milk cow. For all governments, all business, et al. I propend an, albeit presently somewhat unrealistic, solution to the colossal problem. However I profess that in far times to come, the motor car as we now know it, will be earmarked as the worst thing that ever happened to mankind. This would be in line with our humble glow lamp, one of the most remarkable inventions by Thomas Alva Edison. The glow lamp is out, redundant, unwanted. Such will, in time to come, be the future of the motor car.

    Attempt at a partial solution of the giant car problem; discontinue the construction of more roads, worldwide and citywide. Reduce the convenience of owing motor cars for personal use. Parallel to this measure develop public transport, intercity and city, as well as intercontinental making travel, no matter where to, convenient.

    In addition to limit the killing aspect and power of the motor car, used as a licensed weapon, it would, without the slightest doubt, help to clean up our environment, which as things stand now, is rapidly poisoning all living matter on our globe, including ourselves.

    • I hadn’t thought of the car as a potential killing machine. But I agree. Something else I am discovering is that there is a certain liberation, a certain excitement, to trying to live closer to our roots. I’m finding that growing our own vegetables, for instance, has an intrinsic reward beyond the obvious lower grocery bill. And bicycle lanes aren’t just second rate roads for people who don’t have cars. We are not going to eliminate car travel anytime soon. But maybe – maybe – we can reduce its impact as a killing machine.

      And you are right about public transportation. I never thought of including airlines in the mix. But why not? In fact, yes! Terry

      • Henk Meevis says:

        Terry,
        In my country of birth, the Netherlands, bicycle lanes are all over the place and an enforcable way for 2 wheel riders to use. Generally speaking they do. Despite that, cars remain a daily menace on the congested roads with traffic jams up to 50 km. in extent, during season and peak times.
        Growing your own vegetables is another matter. Do the global arithmetic. 10m sq. per family of 6 persons. 1 Billion gardens. Not enough water. No fertilizer. Lazy gardeners.
        Empty bellies as never before. Terry, I am critical, analytic and also a cynical. I have written a book styled “Mephisto Manifesto” The Planet People Platform Introduction. It deals with many problem areas our world is today confronted with. You might be interested. Henk

      • I did much of my doctoral research in Denmark and loved using bicycle travel there. Here in Cambridge, England, where I live now, bicycles are popular, but the bicycle lanes don’t come near to the Danish set-up. It sounds as if the Netherlands is similar.

        I was not suggesting that the total answer to our global food problem is home gardening. But I do know that individuals and small communities can make use of intensive planting in areas where large scale farming is out of the question. Nonetheless, everything I read suggests that planet Earth does not have to capacity to sustain a human population much larger than it is today. If we don’t limit our population voluntarily, it will be done for us by starvation, disease, and war.

        Where is your book available?

        Be interested to know where you live now. Terry

      • Henk Meevis says:

        Sorry Terry, I reacted wrongly to your gardening issue. I am fully aware that you suggested planting as a supporting measure and perhaps for many also as a pleasure.

        I live presently in Hermanus near Cape Town, South Africa. Both my education and moving on the globe took a turbulent pattern. The first step to engineering landed me in a German forced labour camp in 1944. At WW2 end, I finished in the Netherlands and added architecture during the 70ties in Luxembourg as well as a doctorate in economics. It took me a large part of my life, now 85, to un-groove me from much of my education and become a lateral self-thinker.

        You could read about that in my new book which is presently only available on demand in printed hard cover. However if you do not mind reading off your monitor screen I could send you a copy, PDF. About many subjects, all in compressed form, the world’s exponential people explosion gets a little more attention.

        I am searching for a magazine publisher to split the book up in 10 or so sections, making a complete book for the regular follower.

        Henk.

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