Feb 042011
Toyota Prius Hybrid, Miami, Florida

Image via Wikipedia

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, 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 automobiles.

In the earliest days of the automobile in the late nineteenth century, many kinds of cars competed with each other — steam, battery, and internal combustion engine (ICE). The gasoline 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. One hundred years later, competition is again stirring.

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. Gasoline mileage is sufficiently enhanced to make the hybrid commercially viable, and gasoline-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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