02 September 2005

Lower Gas Prices, Cleaner Air

Sounds good, eh? That's what should be in store for a number of cities in China, where the government is taking strong steps to control smog. One of these steps is to outlaw all gasoline-powered scooters and mopeds. By the end of the year, the only legal scooters in Shanghai will be those powered by LPG, propane, or batteries. Okay, this may not put a huge dent in demand for gasoline and thus gas prices, but it sure can't hurt. But, you ask, what does this have to do with me? Could this happen outside of China? The answer is...who knows?

I haven't heard of any cities in the US considering such a ban. But this ban will spark new work on alternative technologies, which certainly will trickle out in the form of cleaner, more efficient small engines. Maybe there's a propane/LPG lawnmower in your future, or maybe you'd consider an
electric bike for errands around town. (Taiwan's Giant company now has a 30-kg bike that uses a superefficient lithium-ion battery and zips along at up to 25 kilometers per hour over a 32-km range.)

Maybe this is one way that the high gas prices could be good - forcing innovation that makes cities cleaner, quieter, and more livable. Wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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