My first semester of college I took a microeconomics course. I learned a lot from this class but one of the biggest things I took away was the following.
“When traffic is congested, each driver is imposing a cost on all other drivers on the road –he is literally getting in their way (and they are getting in his way.) This cost can be substantial: in major metropolitan areas, each time someone drives to work, as opposed to taking public transportation or working at home, he can easily impose $15 or more in hidden costs on other drivers.” – Microeconomics by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells
In that class I also learned that “You don’t need to know this,” means, “You need to know this,” in professor speak, and that you should never enter a jungle alone (I don’t remember why, but I wrote it down in my notes).
The point is, I had never really thought about the negative economical factors involved with automobiles. The environmental impact is something I’ve always known is terrible. Automobile driving is a major cause of:
- Global Warming: Carbon dioxide emissions from autos are the largest contributor to global warming.
- Air Pollution: Automobiles produce nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter that contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.
- Water Pollution: Automobile manufacturing, gas and oil production, road runoff of fuel, oil and antifreeze, underground gasoline storage tanks and marine oil spills all pollute our water.
- Habitat Destruction: Oil drilling, metals mining and road construction all damage wildlife habitat.
- International Conflict: Nations compete over oil reserves. The US currently imports 48% of its oil — the highest levels ever. Many analysts ties this oil dependency to the hundreds of billions we have spent on Persian Gulf wars.