Welcome to the Facepunch Think Tank! This is the first of what will hopefully become a regular series of threads in the Mass Debate folder, focusing on outrageous but plausible 'what-ifs' of largely contemporary issues. I hope that the Facepunchers who reply to this will approach the topic with intellectual rigour and level-headedness that is unfortunately rare among many forums of similar size, but the occasionally bout of flippancy is encouraged to stop people such as myself from descending into a pit of their own arse. Or something. Eccentric opinions and heated debate are encouraged! I will follow each scenario with a series of questions which will hopefully make it easier to debate the topic in areas which are not immediately obvious, but feel free to pose your own ideas relevant to it.
There are 800 million vehicles in the world that essentially run on a technology nearly 200 years old, so it is fair to say that, contrary to many people's beliefs, they must have an absolutely huge impact on the environment. Scientists, engineers and ecologists however, believe that hydrogen powered vehicles, which only output water as a waste product, is the future of transport, and indeed examples exist in the high-tech labs of today's motoring giants, or futuristic vehicles, designed to be kind to the environment.
And yet we never considered the impact of such a technology in the world. Many scientists have said, protesting the use of geo-engineering projects, that we shouldn't be performing what is essentially a vast unsupervised experiment on the only climate we have ever known. Other's contend that we are too far gone to consider the long-term scientific investigations needed, that we should enact such projects now.
So for this edition of The Think Tank, my question is this: what if all 800 million vehicles, in a stroke, with all necessary support facilities in place (refuelling stations, hydrogen facilities etc), were to run on hydrogen? What would be the environmental consequences of suddenly pouring gallons of water into the low-level atmosphere? Hydrogen is a highly explosive element - how would we adapt our daily lives around something so dangerous? What would be the political consequences of hydrogen affect states whose economy receives much of its income from petrochemicals, particularly in states such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia? Would hydrogen engines be a panacea for the auto-industry, or would it drive it to rack and ruin?