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Text messages at the breakfast table, conference calls on family vacations, emails from bed, Facebook in class. Is technology’s power to connect bringing us closer or rending us apart?

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Don't Kill Your Car

by Jacob Gordon illustrations by KEITH Scharwath We're sure you want to, but try one of these instead. What's best for the planet? What's best for you? The ultimate guide to alternative-fuel cars in 2009 and beyond. These are weird times in the car world. Electric cars are decidedly undead, the great..

We're sure you want to, but try one of these instead. What's best for the planet? What's best for you? The ultimate guide to alternative-fuel cars in 2009 and beyond.

These are weird times in the car world. Electric cars are decidedly undead, the great hydrogen hope seems to have come to an end (for now), and Indians are running their cars on air. Meanwhile, low-carbon technologies are growing like mushrooms after a rain, and hybrids-which have had years-long waiting lists-are ready to go mass-market. Of course, even as it grows, the industry is in ruins. And so is the planet, thanks in part to that industry.Oh, and us. Thanks to us, too. Cars don't drive themselves, and with transportation the fastest-growing producer of carbon emissions in the United States-already accounting for 30 percent of greenhouse gases-this is obviously not a problem we can buy our way out of. A new breed of cleaner vehicles is inspiring and very necessary, as are new models of car sharing, urban bike fleets, better driving habits, and mass transit. But these may be dwarfed by the sheer number of new drivers who get behind the wheel each year. China is already on the verge of passing the United States as the world's largest car market.The challenges are many, but we have a unique opportunity to chart a new path in the way we get around. The electric car is promising, but much more meaningful is an electric car that is just one component of a low-carbon economy and way of living. Then the automobile can become a tool to help us in the very necessary reinvention of the way our whole society works.So as we start that reinvention, here's a look at the ideas, technologies, and innovators paving the blacktop to the future.

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