It's a fool's game to try to predict what direction technology will take.
Green power's all the rage right now, especially as the price of fossil-fuel power continues to climb. Solar panels and wind generators and even backyard furnaces are the talk of the town, and the just-concluded auto show in Detroit, while still a celebration of gas-driven muscle, had a healthy component of miserly machines that get their get-up-and-go another way.
There are so many ideas out there right now it's hard to say how we'll be lighting our light bulbs and heading down the highway in the next few years, or decades. Any one of the methods being hawked right now might be the wave of the future.
Pie in the sky or the wave of the future? We won't know unless we explore and develop each one as much as we can.
There have always been such predictions. When nuclear power (we used to call it "atomic power") came on the scene, electricity was supposed to be "too cheap to meter" -- how's that been working out for you? -- and the Sunday papers, including this one, were full of speculation about nuclear-powered family cars.
Too much of this can sound like science fiction, but you never know what part ofscience fiction can turn into science fact. We don't have George Jetson's flying car yet, but the average teenager'sflip-top cell phone makes Captain Kirk's flip-top space radio look like two tin cans and a string.
So are the solar panels atop the city greenhouse the wave of the future? How about a "farm" of giant wind turbines in the middle of Lake Erie -- or little wind turbines for every home, which was discussed at a recentSandusky City Commission meeting?
But here's what we have to do: Explore and develop each one. Make them practical if possible, or take them as close to practicality as we can get them.
Little, fuel-efficient cars were popular after the oil "crisis" of the 1970s, but monster SUVS came on the scene when gas got cheap again. We managed to keep the improvements in gas mileage, but we could be doing better on that score.
When conventional energy prices come down -- and our cynicism about the way those prices are manipulated tells us they will -- those alternative forms of energy have to be practical enough to be attractive, even in the face of that.