Following up on a multi-site discussion regarding the need for vs harm from EVs, Lindsay Wilson of Shrink That Footprint recently added a piece to the mix. As always, Lindsay was keen to pull in a lot of important stats.
Before moving on to some of Lindsay’s contributions, if you haven’t been following this discussion, here’s Lloyd’s initial, thoughtful piece, and here’s my follow-up article response + comment, much of which Lloyd was kind enough to share in a new post on TreeHugger. Lindsay was enjoying the discussion over the holidays and decided to contribute his own 2 cents+ to the discussion. I’m just going to highlight a handful of the useful stats, charts, and statements Lindsay put into that one. Have a look:
- “If you are looking purely at the American experience the argument for a push away from cars is very strong. US car travel peaked in 2007 and vehicle miles travelled per capita fell 8% between 2005 and 2012.” Indeed — this is a trend many an urbanist and humanist is enthusiastic about!
- “Over the period 2000-2009 Americans aged 16-34 travelled 23% fewer miles by car, cycled 24% more often, walked 16% more frequently and travelled 40% more miles by public transport. There is a summary in our generation twitter post.”
- “Although this data supports a possible American push-back against the car, looking at the picture globally makes one less sanguine…. Demand from the burgeoning middle classes in places like China, India and Brazil underpins the continuing growth of car manufacturing globally.”
- “In the wake of the global recession in 2008 and 2009 vehicle manufacturing has rebounded to 84 million in 2012. Although I realize that the atmosphere can’t afford all these new cars I wouldn’t bet much on that curve flattening, much less dropping.”
- “Using low carbon power electric car emissions are about a quarter of an inefficient gasoline car and half that of a top hybrid, that includes their considerable construction footprint.”
- “As much as America can benefit from better, denser cities, it is also the place in the world where electric vehicles could make the biggest emissions difference quickly…. Americans drive more than everyone else. Consider this statistic for a second. In 2010 the total road passenger kilometers travelled in the US were greater than in China, India, Russia, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and France combined. The American love affair with the car is truly mind-boggling!”
- “In the visualization below I’ve mapped road passenger kilometres per capita from 2010 with data from the World Bank. It looks a little empty but if you hover over the map you’ll find data for 50 countries. In the top right you can go fullscreen.”
- “In 2010 the average distance travelled by an American on roads was 22,081 passenger kilometres. This was 43% further than a typical Canadian, 60% more than an Australian, double that of a Britain and 20 times more than the Chinese average (remembering most don’t own cars).”
The amount of driving that goes on in the US and Canada is staggering. Even if we can cut a ton of that through culture change, urbanization, and good planning, that still leaves us with several tons of oil-based driving. That’s bad news for everyone, really bad news. So, we genuinely need the EV revolution that seems to finally be coming about.
But I think this line is also worth some reflection: “Like Zach I’ve lived in Holland and being able to compare it to my time in Australia and the UK I’m also quite evangelical about the superiority of cities which prioritize cycling and walking over cars.”
Frankly, as much as I love EVs and the benefits they bring, I wholeheartedly agree with Lindsay and Lloyd that cars are not good for cities or the people living in or visiting them. And I am indeed evangelical about this when given the opportunity. The quality of life is just too much greater to neglect sharing that information with others.
For more, head on over and read Lindsay’s full piece.