Alex Steffen suggests that we should come up with a solution to the climate crisis by upping urban density in order to do away with the need for cars, and if I’m honest I almost instantly agreed with him. His TED talk really made me think; about my carbon footprint, and for once, about hope for the future.
However, Larry Burns of General Motors proposes a more realistic way of ensuring that vehicles all but erase their 9% contribution to greenhouse gas emissions (Kevin Surace 2009 at TED), while maintaining the massive cultural icon that they are and will probably always be. Unfortunately, I know way too many people who would never be willing to give up their cars, so there has to be a solution that will be taken up by everyone, not just ‘urbanites’. This is especially true in North America where they are both a huge cultural theme but where they also produce the most carbon emissions in the world.
Not only can we hope for cars to stay around and be converted into sustainable transport options, but we can also hope for them to begin to contribute to lessening their mammoth former carbon footprint by giving back to the electrical grid while being parked! This is where the science gets the better of me, but a simple outline is this: the hydrogen powered car sits parked while you are not using it, connected to the local electrical grid, just like a solar cell when your house has enough energy and the energy gets put back into the grid. For a more detailed look at this idea, here is the talk from which this inspiring idea stems.
Another element of this new sustainable car is that we can integrate useful digital technology into the car which feeds off the hydrogen energy. Not only will this type of integration mean that I can live the connected life that I currently live but it will be in an even more socially cohesive, environmental and productive way. There you go: two of my greatest passions combined in a smart, progressive way; digitalism and environmentalism all in one.