Car Culture Essay, Research Paper
Even though the automobile provides convenience and unprecedented mobility, motor vehicles have many destructive effects on people and the environment (1). Each year, motor vehicles kill 40,000 to 50,000 people in the U.S., Americans spend $200 million a day for building and rebuilding nation s roads, and motor vehicles have much things to do with land loss, air pollution, global warming and ozone depletion (2). To solve this U.S. car culture problem, I have searched for solutions as follows. First, I will explain basic causes of environmental impacts. Second, I will examine constructive actions practiced by individual, environmental groups or grassroots groups. Finally I will think about some basic solutions that we can practice individually.
[Basic causes of environmental impacts]
I think that U.S. car culture is a result that several potential basic causes of environmental stress have interacted. However, among these stresses I assume ignorance and misinformation, corporate capitalism, and attitude are the most responsible stresses. Motor vehicles corporations give public misinformation for their short-term profits and they do not take these problems seriously. Also we should not overlook politicians who get a bribes to protect their business. In Western culture, auto vehicles are symbol of power, sex, excitement, or success.
[Activities by Grassroots Groups, Environment Organization, or Persons]
Greenpeace has tried to reduce the devastating effects of the car culture. They provide information and knowledge thorough Internet, and also have rebuilt a car to reduce air pollution caused by the car culture. Greenpeace has had a Renault Twingo redesigned so that the car consumes only half as much petrol as the original (3). In this way, it is possible to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of car traffic. They said, halving the petrol consumption is feasible as a first step for all cars.
Auto-Free D.C. is a grassroots organization working to transform the metropolitan region s transportation system. They advocated elimination of the massive subsidies that encourage automobile use and their redirection to fund sustainable transportation projects: public transit, bicycling and pedestrian facilities. Auto-Free D.C. believed that we must end our forced dependence on the automobile as a precondition for achieving an environmentally sustainable, equitable, and livable community (4). Auto-Free D.C. leads the fight to reclaim Rock Creek National Park from automobile abuse through its Free-the-Park bicycle rides and ongoing lobbying of the National Park Service. They testified on the Clean Air Plan before the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee. Auto-Free D.C. co-organized the Metro area s first National Bike-to-Work Week festivities in May. Also, they helped defeat Metrobus fare increases by pressuring the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
The Euro-America Clean Air Foundation has recently instituted a National Clean Air Education campaign. This campaign assimilates several independent programs and productions in a united effort to improve environmental education and awareness. Clean Air Commandos, the first video release of the projected Clean Air series, is presently being offered to schools and corporations. This video is an acclaimed, education video that relates what children can do to help reduce air pollution and environmental degradation. The Clean Air Demonstration Team, the Clean Air Challenge, and a unique interactive Clean Air program comprise a significant portion of the Community Outreach Program. The Clean Air Demonstration Team is a crew of Clean Air professionals who tour schools and demonstrate to children how air pollution can be significantly reduced with proper vehicle maintenance and the use of existing technology (5).
It is hard to overcome capitalism together with ignorance, misinformation, and attitude. However, those things can be cleared through education, organization, and fighting. As an individual, I was also ignorant and misinformed in this society about the car culture. I am sure that there are still many people who have no information or knowledge. Actually, I am involved in some organizations and we have regular meeting. I would like to discuss about the car culture in the meeting, and I can inform their members of car culture. For example, we can talk about the destructive effects of car culture, which I have learned in this course, and I am sure we can make some individual solutions together. I can also talk the U.S. car culture with my friends and family.
We can use our bicycles to go to school or shopping instead of cars. Actually, we often use cars in short distance even though it is not necessary. As a matter of fact, bicycle access expands the potential market area of high-speed public transport services at low cost. In Western Europe and Japan today, the fastest growing and predominant access mode is the bicycle (6).
On the other hand, we need to organize a group to establish more efficient public transportation system like bus and subway. I had a chance to go to Japan to study its language. My mother and brother visited me at that time. We traveled some famous places, and we had a lot of fun with a good organized subway system. Most Japanese people prefer the subway or train to the car. Actually, the public transportation systems as I mentioned above are very efficient. Through the organization, we can push our governor to think our environment and finally to make useful public transportation systems.
My first action is to learn more about the car culture not only in the U.S. but also in the world from now. I will have more knowledge about the destructive effects of car culture and I will let my friends know what I have learned. Also, I will use my own car as less as possible and I will think our environment whenever I use my car.
[ References ]
1. G. Tyler Miller, Jr. Sustaining the Earth 1998. Wadsworth Publishing Company
2. Auto-Free Ottawa. The Full Cost of the Car. March 25, 1996
3. http://www.greenpeace.org/ climate/smile/feq/faq2.html
4. Cole, Kevin. Auto-Free D.C.
6. Replogle, Michael. Integration of Bicycles with Public Transportation. 1994.