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.