When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 20 May 2012

What’s the worst human invention of all time? The answer depends on whom we ask.

As a cheer-leader of innovation and currently host of a TV series on this topic, I keep asking around. I find there is no agreement on either the best or worst inventions — even top 10 lists vary enormously.

But many now agree that the internal combustion engine – which has literally driven our civilisation forward for a couple of centuries – needs serious rethinking. Burning fossil fuels (petroleum and coal) is costly, polluting and planet warming. We really need to kick our addition to oil.

Where do we begin? Electrically powered vehicles are much cleaner, provided the electricity is readily available and affordable. Are hybrid vehicles – now growing on Lankan roads – the solution, or just…

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