Just Released! Order “Waking Up to Climate Change” by George Ropes, and receive 25% Discount. Learn More

Close this search box.
Close this search box.

HOME          CATEGORIES          OUR TAKE

Americans Need to Drive Less by ClimateYou Senior Editor George Ropes

This article by Michael Hobbes entitled “Democrats’ Baffling Blind Spot On Cars” posted on Huffington Post chastises Democrats for their  failure to address America’s biggest source of carbon emissions: driving automobiles. Hobbes calls the failure a blind spot, but it’s more like a third rail that all politicians, Republicans as well as Democrats, are loath to touch. Telling Americans they have to drive less is not a vote-getter. In most places, people have no viable alternative. Disinvestment in public transit for decades has left that option so unattractive or unavailable as to be moot.

For the most part, Hobbes does a good job laying out the dimensions of the problem, and assessing the pros and cons of adopting (or merely proposing) the various alternative ways to cut US transportation emissions significantly. Bernie Sanders’ Cash for Clunkers proposal gets short shrift as a very expensive way to make far too slow an impact on emissions, given that only 6% of Americans buy a new car each year. No Democrat has endorsed the type of restrictions on cars in urban areas that various European cities have implemented over initial opposition that quickly dissipates. Nor has a Democrat spoken out against Trump’s attacks on Obama’s CAFE emission standards, an especially egregious failure given Americans’ propensity for gas-guzzling SUVs.  Nor has there been any Democratic defense of California’s special status to set its own emission standards, which automakers initially supported but are caving under Administration pressure to end.

Simply put, Americans need to drive less, which may impinge on where they live. There is a nascent movement to return to the denser living of the cities from the sprawling suburbs, but for most people it’s a hard sell, given the perceived levels of urban crime and the actual quality of most urban schools. Hobbes doesn’t discuss decentralizing workplaces to reduce commuting time, nor high tech virtual conference software that would enable more people to work from home. Still, Hobbes has done the country — and the planet — a great service by highlighting the transportation emissions issue and politicians’ reluctance to address it. It’s telling that he never once mentions Republicans.

Comment on this article

ClimateYou moderates comments to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, self-promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Moderators are staffed during regular business hours (New York time) and can only accept comments written in English.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.


More Posts Like This


The Intersection of Computer Engineering & Climate Change: Building a Sustainable Future

In the face of mounting environmental challenges, the role of technology, particularly computer engineering, has emerged as a crucial factor in addressing climate change. This essay explores how computer engineering intersects with climate change and how individuals can leverage their careers to make a positive impact on the


ClimateYou Contributor & Key Supporter Alice Turnbull (1942-2023)

The passing of one of our contributors and most ardent supporters, Alice Turnbull, is a great loss not only to the ClimateYou Alliance but to her community in Port Melbourne, Australia, where she worked tirelessly to revive community parks with eco-friendly indigenous plantings. Alice was born in Scarsdale,


Art Inspired by Climate Change Data

Last week about 20 students stood next to small, blank canvases placed on tables. They were about to pour paint of various colors onto the canvases as part of a unique approach to understanding climate change. The students were in their weekly Natural Disasters class taught by Professor