Monday, November 5, 2007

Why we should Walk

Yesterday as I waited for a friend to come by in her car so we could drive to the beach to go for a walk, I read an article about the evil automobile in The New Yorker. (Yes, I see the irony here, if irony is indeed the correct word). It was written by one of my heroes, Elizabeth Kolbert. I bet you anything, if Bush could read, or let's just say that one of his aides or Laura or one of his daughters read it to him, he would make a strong suggestion to China and India that they 'not become automobile dependent societies.' Articles like this make me feel a tad shameful. I mean, what sort of air will Ezra be breathing 20 years from now? And, what about his kids? We'll be old geezers by then (some of us), and that toxic air will be a burden, part of the scarlet alphabet branded upon our conscience.

Here's an excerpt:

Consider what’s happening in India and China. As Carson and Vaitheeswaran point out, car ownership in both countries has been and still remains, by U.S. standards, almost absurdly low. There are nine personal vehicles per thousand eligible drivers in China and eleven for every thousand Indians, compared with 1,148 for every thousand Americans. But incomes in the two countries are rising so rapidly—the Chinese economy grew by eleven per cent last year and is expected to grow by the same amount this year—that millions of vehicleless families will soon be in a position to buy automobiles. Assuming that incomes continue to rise, in a few years tens of millions of families will be buying their first cars, and eventually hundreds of millions. (To satisfy increasing demand in India, the country’s second-largest auto manufacturer, Tata Motors, is set to start producing a four-door known as the one-lakh car—a lakh is a hundred thousand rupees—that will sell for the equivalent of twenty-five hundred dollars.) Were China and India to increase their rates of car ownership to the point where per-capita oil consumption reached just half of American levels, the two countries would burn through a hundred million additional barrels a day. (Currently, total global oil use is eighty-six million barrels a day.) Were they to match U.S. consumption levels, they would require an extra two hundred million barrels a day. It’s difficult to imagine how such enormous quantities of oil could be found, but, if they could, the result would be catastrophe. “Just consider the scale of the potential problem—for instance, the effect on global warming of seven hundred and fifty million more cars in India and China, belching carbon dioxide,” Carson and Vaitheeswaran write.

You can read the full article at this link.

1 comment:

Trekking Left said...

This is exactly why I'm just so, so sad that Gore lost in 2000. We would in a much better place right now to respond to China and India if he were in office over the last 7 years.