In his State of the Union Address, President Bush pledged $1.2billion in funding for hydrogen cars and mentioned a ‘Healthy Forests Initiative’ focused on reducing the impact of bushfires. Speaking to the American Congress he said:
…Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest.
I urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.
In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about not through endless lawsuits or command-and-control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I’m proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles.
A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car — producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free.
Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
A story in the Weekend Australian reporting on a British government report outlined some alternative transport scenarios for the future:
Every journey will have to be justified, and face-to-face contact with colleagues, friends and relatives will increasingly become a luxury, with most meetings taking place via three-dimensional “telepresencing”.
… Foresight, the [British] Government’s science think tank, consulted 300 transport experts when drawing up its vision of how travel will change by 2055. It concludes that the growing demand for greater personal mobility is unsustainable and based on false notions.
Congestion should be tackled by making smarter use of existing capacity rather than by building roads and other transport links.
It states: “We cannot presume that we will have cheap oil for the next 50 years, (or that) we can respond to increasing demand by building more capacity, (or that) we will continue to have the right to move as and when we please.”
It proposes that people should be forced to pay the true cost of their journeys, including compensating for the environmental damage they cause. Charging for trips by the kilometre “would make people aware of the real costs of travel”.
… The report offers four scenarios for 2055, with the world’s willingness to adapt and ability to find technological solutions dictating which comes true. In the bleakest scenario, an acute oil shortage and lack of affordable alternative energy sources trigger a global depression. Economies collapse as businesses can no longer afford to move goods and people. People survive in increasingly isolated communities that have to learn to become self-sufficient, with most trips made by bicycle or horse.
The most optimistic scenario envisages that a cleaner alternative to oil is available in abundance, allowing greater globalisation to continue apace.