Cars get more miles per gallon and emit less CO2 than they used to, but by embracing smaller cars these improvements could have been even better.
This is why I’m a big believer in urbanism.
Building cities where we need cars as little as possible is the only solution; transportation is the leading cause of emissions in the US.
If you haven’t already, check out Strong Towns, Not Just Bikes, and the Congress for the New Urbanism.
I wish you had looked at safety over time and by car size.
It's one of the key features consumers consider when buying a car. And with good reason - car accidents have been one of our leading causes of death for decades, especially among groups not otherwise at risk. Indeed, the risk of death by car accident swamps any but the worst case estimates of what we may suffer as a result of climate change.
I wish you'd look into this, because the data is extremely clear that you are at less risk of death in a larger car. This is intuitive, of course; if you see a large truck in a collision with a subcompact, you know the likely result.
It means, however, that to the extent we have been encouraging folks to buy smaller cars, we have been encouraging them to buy less safe cars. The class implications of this get ugly quick.
When I was single I felt the same way. Why the heck are people wasting their money on cars. But it turns out large SUVs are pretty great if you have a few kids. Nowadays I appreciate my SUV enough that I can’t agree with any anti-SUV sentiment. But, I am happy to support environmentalism, electric cars and green energy and so on, as long as I can continue driving a conveniently large car.
People scoff at the idea of a 15 minute city. The US will always have unique transport needs sheerly because of its size. The 15 minute city is no different than supporting your community butcher, baker, grocer. It binds communities. This was a great article.
Two parallels to explore - gas taxes and safety. My thesis is Europeans and Brit's drive smaller cars because the taxes on gasoline / petrol are exorbitant compared to US and therefore fuel efficiency is the number one factor in vehicle selection. Also, Britain is far more densely populated than the US - you can basically drive the whole north-to-south length of the country in 8 - 10 hours. In the US, you can't even get through some states in that amount of time.
There's another factor at play here, which is that the car manufacturers lobbied hard to carve out an exemption from the fuel efficiency standards for trucks. Truck SUVs are a category designed to fit into this exemption. They are also very profitable for the manufacturers, so are heavily advertized and marketed. They've also become badges of identity. In the eyes of their owners, a symbol of manhood, wealth, success, and, in some areas, adherence to certain political views including climate change denial. Thanks for the reminder of how crazy it looks from back across the pond.
EU regulation limiting CO2 emissions _per kilo of car weight_ didn't really help, especially given the technology required to comply with the regulation is more or less fixed price per car.
It really doesn't matter what the prices are, or the size of cars etc.
The one and only factor is that increasing the CO2 conc. of the atmosphere will raise the temp. of the atmos. and of the surface of the sea, therefore increasing the rainfall, storms, flooding and erosion. Most scientists, like me, think that this will be fatal for our technological world. Only the elimination of the use of fossil fuels will save us. But we cannot easily destroy all internal combustion engines, and all existing aircraft, electric power stations, most sea-going ships, etc, WORLD WIDE, in the next 10-15 yrs.
This means that we must have a substitute fuel, for transportation that is suitable for internal combustion engines, for power plants, for factories, for space heating and cooking, and everything else we use fossil fuels for. There are two fuels available, Ethyl Alcohol for liquids, and Methane gas for all stationary uses. Ethanol is 'easily' made from currant agricultural production, (think wine, beer, and whiskey, etc.), while Methane is currently being made from most human wastes in every garbage dump in the world. (We currently just let it all escape into the air).
If you have a different, possible, solution to the problem, please present it to the whole world, because you know something that nobody else knows......!!!
Thanks for the more sober analysis
Cars are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Our leading cause of death is heart disease, because Americans don’t get out of their car and walk enough.
Designing our cities around cars was a costly mistake.
Hi, would you be interested in hiring a part-timer who can create visualizations for your newsletter? I couldn't help but notice that these charts could be drawn better, and you might be busy to do it on your own, and I could help.
I love my inky dinky light car. (Kia Soul 2010.) I should still drive less.
Look at it from the automotive engineer's point of view. In the 70s, saving gas was practically a patriotic fight back against an Arab attack on our way of life. Not only did people downsize vehicles (Nissan, then Datsun, actually ran ads about how this was a whole new generation that wasn't consumerist, didn't need big cars to show off: Yes - the anti-consumer Boomers), but also, the engineers really went to work.
And they worked really hard, and got ulcers, and lost marriages, and all that, and they had amazing success. And, year after year, customers went, 'Thanks; we'll take all that hard work, and put it to our own convenience and need to look big and powerful on the road. None for Mom Earth, sorry...in fact, we'll take a little extra and actually raise fuel consumption!'
So, instead of reducing America's dependence on Arab dictators, everybody had to go to war to protect them, and take 9/11 with shit-eating grins, and sell Saudi more weapons, because we just had to have that lovely lovely oil to feed the Beast in the driveway.
The climate problem is not the vehicles we drive, but the fuel we use. Fossil fuels MUST be eliminated in the next 10-15 years unless we WISH the world to get hotter, wetter and stormier. We MUST start burning fuels that are made from CURRENT biological production. Either that , or the total conversion of matter into energy--(if you know how to do it, do tell us!