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The Day the Earth Will Change

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I’ve just discovered that I am a bad person. The reason? Because I buy disposable nappies for my little boy, Ok, I guess I’d better back up a little here and explain what I’m talking about.

The train of thought that has led me to this conclusion started a couple of weeks ago. I was in the car driving to work as I do most days. I live some distance from the TrustedReviews offices and my round trip is around 70-80 miles a day, depending on the route I take. This particular day was the beginning of the recent fuel protests and as such, queues at petrol station were getting silly, while prices were positively ridiculous. The absurd thing was that the whole thing was whipped up by the media, simply because it gave them something to write about. Everybody was told that there would be supply problems and therefore queues at the pumps and sure enough, like sheep, people started queuing - a self fulfilling prophecy, giving the media just what they wanted. This was despite assurances that there weren’t any supply problems.

As I sat in the car, despairing at this, I found myself thinking, if things are like this when there’s plenty of petrol to go round, what will happen when there are real shortages? After all, oil is a finite resource and one day, inevitably, it will run out. Most estimates say that the oil will start to run out within the lifetimes of most working people alive today and no oil means no petrol or diesel. Aside from the huge political and economic upheaval this will cause, how are we going to drive our cars to work?

Of course, we can hope that that technology will have sorted things out by then but can we be so sure? After all, wasn’t technology meant to have made everything better by now? Back in the fifties, it seemed certain that by the early 21st century we’d all be going to work in our flying cars. More recently, the Internet was supposed to have ensured that we didn’t need to go anywhere at all. Broadband connections, video conferencing and messaging meant we were supposed to be able to stay at home. Indeed, working on a web site many people assume I work primarily from home. In fact it’s not the case and judging by the state of the roads, not that many people are either. Certainly not in the US, where according to one statistic, ninety per cent of Americans drive to work. Scary.

And what of alternate methods of propulsion? The Toyota Prius is a hybrid car with two engines - one petrol and one electric. It shares the workload between the two engines with the electric part recharging while you run on petrol. It’s an interesting concept but it’s yet to take off and as you’re paying for two engines you get far less car for your money that with a conventional vehicle.

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