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Cars – Problem or Solution?

By Ted Nelson
December 15, 2008
File under: Electric, Innovation


Cars aren’t usually the first thing to spring to mind when people think of “green” (unless we’re talking paint colors). After all, their use results in large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, respiratory problems, and diminished water quality.

It’s easy to see that cars are part of the problem. However, as the preferred way to get from A to B, cars can also be a part of the solution. In fact, cars need to be a part of any comprehensive short-term plan to build a sustainable society.

Certainly we must also make an effort to reduce our dependence on cars.

In the short-term we should all aim to lower our ecological footprints by using public and self-powered transportation options whenever possible. And in the longer-term we need to start reorganizing our communities around people rather than cars.

Still, cars are likely to remain a major means of transportation for the foreseeable future.

Taking individual action and letting the masses continue with business as usual is simply not an option. You may laugh that the train gets you to work in 20 minutes while your coworkers sit in traffic for hours, but unfortunately their emissions are effecting you as much as them.

Luckily, we seem to be moving in the right direction.

The public has responded with perhaps its most powerful voice, consumer demand: the SUV fad is dying out and automakers are finding that efficiency and value are keys to long-term success. As well as through the collective voices of government and media: when Detroit came to the taxpayers asking for financial assistance, the overwhelming response from Congress, President Obama, and the media was that addressing environmental sustainability was a prerequisite to assistance.

Other market forces have also responded as entrepreneurs have teamed with venture capitalists to launch electric vehicle start-ups, hoping to do for transport what they did for communication and commerce with internet start-ups. Click here to check out some of the cool cars they’re bringing to market.

To effectively combat the immediate challenge of man-made climate change—and eventually build a sustainable, prosperous global society—we must continue taking large strides to “green our rides.” As much as any other aspect of our lives, we control how we get from point A to point B. For those instances when public and self-powered transportation are not practical, green car technology is developing at warp speed.

Seems like only yesterday that the hybrid was the latest and greatest, now the Prius is old news and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are in the pipeline with fully-electric vehicles on the brink of competitiveness. This moment should prove to be crucial for the auto industry, opportunities abound and it will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion.

Click here to learn how much you can save by driving your current car more efficiently.

Click here for tips on reducing the amount you have to drive.

Drive a diesel? Click here to learn about cleaner, more efficient biodiesel fuel.

Comments (1) Email Link
1  Comment
  1. Harvey G.
    June 29, 2009 10am UTC

    I am so ready to buy a high-tech, high-quality, efficient vehicle made in America. here’s hoping I can soon…

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Discover the latest developments in improving technologies, tightening auto standards, fuel alternatives and how to make your current car eco-friendly. Find out which companies are investing in energy efficient vehicles.

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