Currently, many people drive to work in what is considered a “normal sedan”, like a Toyota Camry. The reality is that the “normal sedan” is actually huge, compared to what it needs to be. The vast majority of those commutes are just them, on their own, doing a short drive from their home to their work, and then back again. Every day. In this article, I talk about how this is excessive and wasteful, not only of our resources, but wasteful of our money, our great nation’s GDP, and of our precious lives. If you don’t believe in climate change, turn back now.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, oil was plentiful and huge cars were the norm, with big, wide bonnets, huge V8 engines, stylish curves and chrome everywhere. When the oil crisis of the 70’s hit, people started to get more fuel-efficient cars. At least until we invaded some people who had oil. Then the price of oil was reduced in the 80’s, so of course big American cars came back into fashion. However, now, it is the 21st century, and cars are even bigger than in the 80’s. The average sedan is now the size of a small boat, with huge engines, and lots of space for people who are rarely in the car.
Not only are these cars wasteful in that they use a lot of resources, but they are also wasteful in that they are unusable most of the time. The average person does not need a car so large, and does not even use the space in the car when they do drive.
Size and Cost
The size of the car is a big factor in the cost. The bigger the car, the more it costs. Not only are the costs of the car itself higher, but the cost of gas is also higher. The price of gas is much higher for larger cars, because they use more fuel, and because they are heavier, they use more gas to get up to speed.
Size and Pollution
The larger the car, the worse the impact on the environment. Not only are the cars themselves polluting, but the resources used to make the cars are polluting, and so are the transportation and assembly of the cars. The bigger the car, the more pollution it produces.
Size and Congestion
Large cars take up a huge amount of space on the road, just to carry one person. Because everyone travels at the same time (on the way to work, and on the way home again), congestion is a serious problem, even where the lawmakers live and drive. If you took all of those people sitting in their huge cars, and put some of them into a bus, some of them onto bikes, and some of them into some running shoes, you’d save almost all the traffic. But people don’t want to do that! They simply want the comfort of a big car, even when they’re doing small trips.
Most people, most of the time, hardly ever go outside of a small circle around their home and work. So, why do we insist on having cars that have enough petrol to drive across the entire state and back? Why do we pull around thousands of pounds of metal that is of no use to us when we’re just going down the street for an ice cream? Some people would argue back and say “Well sometimes I need to drive a long way”. Maybe that’s true. Here’s little hypothetical story about that. Let’s suppose you live in Ohio. If you have an accident in your giant car (let’s get into the huge topic of dangerous big cars, another time) are you going to travel all the way to North Pole Motor Repairs? No, you’re simply going to drive to a nearby Columbus car body repair shop. Even in a rare circumstance such as this, people prefer to stay where they are familiar. Do I hear you say, “What if I have a medical problem?” Well, you’ll be going to the closest hospital, most likely, perhaps even in an ambulance, not your giant gas guzzler.
There are a few solutions that have been proposed, but not many of them are wildly popular yet. One of them is that we should invest in public transport. This does help, but there is a stigma associated with public transport, so certain (i.e. middle-to-upper class) people will try to avoid it, even if it’s cheaper and easier for them. Also, some people just don’t like being around their fellow human beings. Well, you can’t please everyone. Another proposed solution is to build smaller, lighter, more efficient, cheaper cars. That sounds great in theory, but in practice, people don’t want to drive small cars when there are huge, tank-like vehicles speeding around. So, I believe that another solution will come about, whether it’s a decade-long trend towards smaller vehicles, or a sudden change based on a controversial law, I’m sure that if anyone can solve this problem, it will be a great American solution to a very pressing problem.