The need to end the use of fossil fuels, suggests that at least for our transportation needs, we should invest in a large-scale research effort to make highly efficient long-lived rechargeable batteries, of low weight and high power. The electrodes of such a battery have to return to exactly the same structural form at each turn in the charge/discharge cycle, if integrity of the electrodes is to be ensured. This requires concerted creative interaction of chemists, physicists, and engineers, in a project akin to the Manhattan Project. Our cars and trucks could then be realistically powered indirectly by solar, wind, tidal, bio-fuel, geothermal, or nuclear electrical energy sources.
First we must ensure that the biosphere is protected. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a first priority. Fossil fuel consumption must diminish. Fossil fuels (including coal) contain complex carbon-based molecular systems that should be largely preserved (not entirely destroyed, as in combustion) to make other materials, of use in construction, furnishing, dyes and a multitude of other products.
Water, and perhaps other natural resources, should be under government control. Such control should also hold for nuclear energy, since the side products of that energy need to be disposed of with care. Cost cutting, to provide competitive market pricing could be disastrous environmentally, if such a source of energy were allowed to be in the private sector.
Neil Bartlett is author of The Oxidation of Oxygen and Related Chemistry (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and a contributor to Fluorine Chemistry at the Millennium (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).