Stampede To Small Cars?

The New York Times has a front-page article today about Americans making a stampede to small cars due to rising gas prices.

I read it avidly since our transportation choices form such a high percentage of our national carbon footprint (and carbon emissions are the primary cause of global warming). It turned out that one in five U.S. car purchases in April were of a compact or sub-compact car, compared to one in eight a decade ago.

This is called a stampede to fuel-efficient cars? I’m underwhelmed.

I see a misguided but very human thing playing itself out around gas prices, cars, carbon emissions and global warming. Science tells us we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70-85%.  Yet, media coverage and public behavior reveal a childlike desire for our lifestyles to change very little from what we’re used to — despite full evidence and knowledge that our lifestyles need to change a lot, based as they are on cheap, abundant fossil fuels.

My post on Our Next Car: Prius Or Honda Hybrid? has gotten almost as many hits as the next two most popular posts put together. Clearly, people are hot for green-tinged cars. But why aren’t we talking about cutting our driving in half, rather than having wet dreams about cars in different flavors and sizes? Where is the front-page NY Times story on how 82% of U.S. trips of five miles or less are currently made in cars, rather than on foot or bicycle? Using our bodies for transportation addresses national health and obesity problems as well as global warming. And exercise elevates mood and makes us feel happier, too.

The time when people reported the highest level of happiness in the U.S. was a time when they walked and bicycled more and drove less. Let’s not be impressed by the current so-called stampede to small cars. The transformation needed to effectively deal with global warming calls for changes in us more than in our cars.

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1 Response to “Stampede To Small Cars?”


  1. 1 Cshells May 27, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    How does this work for the person who’s family numbers 5 or more and lives in a place where nothing is any closer than 15 minutes by car @ hwy speeds? I would love to have a greener fuel efficient car that I could haul my 3 kids and Husband in and still fit our 1- 2 weeks of groceries or some other item families need that do not fit in a fuel efficient 2-4 seater and cannot be carried or cycled for the distance it would take our minivan 15 minutes? Please seriously I have no clue how to solve this dilemma and moving is not a financial option either. Plus no sidwalks and no bike lanes even living 30 minutes from here would make a dangerous walk or bike ride with 3 kids in tow.


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