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People may need a car, but not a big car. The problem is that people are not being encouraged now to increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, or to reduce the number of vehicles per household. The US vehicle fleet could be replaced at the normal pace in what? 10, 15 years?

I'd guess something around that, yes. The problem is also in the social structure. People need to load their big SUV full of goodies at the Wal-Mart once a week to save time on shopping, so that they can keep up their 60-70 hour work week. Similarly, they need place for their big bodies which have gotten fat due to saving time on eating (fast food) in order to do more work (mostly office work that doesn't involve moving). There is a kind of mutually reinforcing effect in traffic that if you aren't in a higher driving position, you can't see as much on the highway because of all the SUVs.

Of course you could just gradually raise the fuel tax to $10 a gallon and that would force most people to change the car size when they renew. But it's not going to happen.

So I think the point is first, what you said, that the US has more resources to make it through a transition to an economy without oil. But, second, the political momentum is already there in Europe to begin with a transition, it is not there in the US, and it is not particularly likely to emerge in the US until there is a big crash.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jun 19th, 2007 at 08:03:14 AM EST
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