Hydrogen may offer zero emission transportation but there are lingeringconcerns over its safety. Studies that analyze the hazards and risks ofhydrogen compared to the traditional gasoline, have found that hydrogenis a higher flammability hazard. Although hydrogen does have anincreased risk, the probability of a fire is still very low.
Theflammability of gasoline did not impede the adoption of the combustionengine, and for decades we have managed to fill our gas tanks withoutsetting ourselves ablaze.
The value of hydrogen, particularlysolar generated hydrogen power, is that it is the cleanest source ofenergy we know. You do not have to follow rising CO2 levels nor do youneed to understand the concept of a tipping point to know that cleanenergy is good energy.
The daily news is full of global warmingrelated reports. Due to Greenland’s melting glaciers, Canada is now host to a 92 square mile, 600 feet thick iceberg that is threateningshipping lanes.
According to some meteorologists, the fires inRussia and the floods in Pakistan are two deadly natural disastersattributable to global warmings effect on the Asian monsoon. Althoughthe monsoon weather patterns are normal, According to Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the Boulder, Colorado-based National Center forAtmospheric Research National Geographic, "they’re also being enhancedby rising sea temperatures due in part to global warming."
InPakistan 1200 people are officially counted as dead and 6000 villageshave been leveled. Disease and starvation are sure to follow. In Russiathe official death toll is at 52, as the fires threaten a nuclear powerplant in a region already contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nucleardisaster. Thick smoke and choking pollution from the burning bogs hasblanketed Moscow for days, making it dangerous to go outdoors. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said, ?"What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us."
According to the NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center, highs of over 100 degrees in 19 US cities have broken local records alongside 11 countries across 4 continents. January to June 2010 has been the hottest first half ofthe year since temperatures were first recorded in 1880. Globaltemperatures have averaged 1.2 degrees warmer than normal. On May 26,Pakistan logged a mercury reading of 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit (53.5degrees Celsius) the highest ever recorded in Asia.
These areonly a few examples of the effects of global warming. If we do notsucceed in reducing our impact on the environment the effects of climate change will get much worse. From oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico andChina, to fires and floods, current events make it clear that we are indesperate need of cleaner alternatives to emissions causing fossilfuels.
Do the benefits of hydrogen outweigh the risks? In a contemporary context, the answer seems obvious.