Friday, March 20, 2009

Does the world need cars at all?

With attention is focused on how much money should or should not be given by which government in order to rescue which car or car-parts producer, the world is avoiding a debate on a much more fundamental question:

Does the world need a car industry at all?

My answer: Yes, we do need a car industry, but only in the thinly-populated parts of the world.

By contast, in densely-populated parts of the world, public transport is a much more rational, efficient, environment-friendly way of moving people about.

So let's take a practical question, such as whether and how much the US government should give to support the car industry. The answer should not be given by considering that question in isolation. It should be considered in the context of a comprehensive approach to the options for allowing people to move inside the country as well as internationally.

If one did so, one would conclude that the priority for the USA should be to build or extend good public transport systems on the West and East Coasts and in all urban centres.

In countries such as in Northern Europe, where there is a good public transport system, environmentally-aware people try to organise their lives in such a way as to use buses, trams and trains rather than cars as far as possible.

Of course in thinly-populated areas, such as the rural Midwest, cars will continue to play an essential role. But the number of people in such areas around the world is declining as more and more people migrate to towns and to the burgeoning megacities. Sphere: Related Content

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