The key to climate change control lies in improved technology. We need to find new ways to produce and use energy, meet our food needs, transport ourselves, and heat and cool our homes that will allow us to cut back on oil, gas, coal, nitrogen-based fertiliser, and other sources of the climate-changing greenhouse gases.
There are enough good options available to suggest that the world can accomplish the goal of controlling climate change at a reasonable cost (perhaps 1% of global income per year) while enabling the world economy to continue to grow and raise living standards. One of the most exciting developments on the horizon is the new generation of electric cars.
In the earliest days of the automobile in the late 19th century, many kinds of cars competed with each other – steam, battery, and internal combustion engine (ICE). The petrol- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines won the competition with the success of the Model T, which first rolled off of the assembly line in 1908.
Now the age of electric vehicles is upon us. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid-electric vehicle first introduced in Japan in 1997, marked an initial breakthrough. By connecting a small generator and rechargeable battery to the braking system of a standard car, the hybrid augments the normal engine with a battery-powered motor. Petrol mileage is sufficiently enhanced to make the hybrid commercially viable, and petrol-saving vehicles will become even more commercially viable when consumers are taxed for the carbon dioxide they emit from their vehicles.
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