Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Green Car Checklist

Development efforts at “green” car design studios like Aptera Motors
( ) look very promising - especially in the all-important virtual-reality/venture-capital-raising realm. But take care! Wildly optimistic public expectations for "green" cars are severely impeding humanity's faltering steps towards creating a sustainable society. The species homo automobilicus would much rather wait for technological silver bullets than adopt lifestyle changes - especially as regards unlimited personal motorized mobility.

But transportation systems based on moving human beings one-at-a-time or two-at-a-time in sixteen foot, two-ton metal boxes is itself fatally flawed. Even 100% “green” cars live on 100% DEAD pavement – and we are rapidly suffocating Earth beneath highways, streets, and parking lots. The sooner we-the-people get over our obsessive-destructive love affair with the automobile, the better.

That said, should mankind manage to continue the project of civilization, greatly reduced levels of driving in far more modest and efficient vehicles will play a important transportation role. The issue is not whether we will continue to use cars, it is whether we will choose the degree of enlightened self-restraint that is essential for a sustainable balance. Regrettably, new tech automophilia seduces many into believing that behavioral restraints are unnecessary.

Everything becomes clear when promising vehicular advances are evaluated using the following "Green Car Checklist". Here is the scoring for “Aptera” – but note that the composite results differ little from scores for the “Prius” and “VW TDI New Beetle”.

YES - reduces direct CO2 emissions from vehicle
YES - reduces dependence on fossil fuels
YES - reduces material usage in vehicle
YES - less intimidating to non-motorists
??? - fewer deaths and injuries to non-motorists in accidents
(probably not if driven at >30 MPH)

NO - reduces obesity by increasing physical activity
NO - fosters infill and compact development
NO - fosters walking and bicycling
NO - fosters use of public transportation
NO - reduces demand for Earth-suffocating roadways
(unless lanes could be made much narrower)

NO - reduces demand for Earth-suffocating parking
(unless TWO or more will fit in ONE conventional parking stall)

NO - reduces destruction of watersheds and aquifers
NO - reduces displacement of wildlife habitat
NO - reduces loss of farmlands
NO - increases civic interconnections via shared public spaces
NO - fosters local interdependence

Winner? Looser?


(1) Very promising engineering step
(2) Wrong focus for the automobile-addicted public


terminoil said...

Truth, like love, hurtz.

Wijnandt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wijnandt said...

Better alternatives indeed on