Narrator: This is Science Today. Making minor adjustments in the fuel efficiency of automobiles could result in major changes for the third world poor. Kirk Smith, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, calculates that a half a percent annual increase in the efficiency of every car could provide the petroleum needed to supply fossil fuels for cooking in all poor households.
Smith: So that even after ten years it would only be about a one mile per gallon increase in the efficiency, well within economic and technical capabilities.
Narrator: Smith adds that the current movement towards hybrid or electric cars is a step in the right direction.
Smith: More high-efficient cars in the short-term, vehicles and other uses of petroleum, and in the long-term vehicles that don't require release of carbon, maybe not even use combustion at all. These kinds of technologies are definitely possible, but do have to be encouraged by policies, and taxes, and subsidies and research.
Narrator: Smith is currently working to promote the use of fossil fuels for heating and cooking in rural Guatemala. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.