Wednesday 11 August 2010

Don’t be fooled by Two Billion Cars

There’s a book out by Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon entitled Two Billion Cars: Driving Towards Sustainability (OUP paperback).

Don’t be fooled by it. There was a very misleading review in the national Guardian on 31 July, making it sound like the authors are Green critics of the car. They aren’t. Both come from the car-centric US transport establishment and Sperling has long connections with the US auto industry.

Their subtitle is not ironic. They think two billion cars is a marvellous idea. The book colncludes
Adopting a strategic, long-range view is the key. The road to surviving and thriving is paved with vehicles that sip fuel, low-carbon fuels and electric-drive vehicles, new mobility options, and smarter governance. Enlightened consumers, innovative policymakers, and entrepreneurial businesses worldwide can drive us to a sustainable future.

Needless to say ‘new mobility options’ do not in any serious sense encompass a switch from car driving to cycling. These writers are on the side of the car.

The Prius represented for the authors a huge technological and market breakthrough. "Since unveiling the Prius, Toyota has raced ahead of the industry … Toyota's ascendancy occurred in tandem with its marketing of cutting-edge technology for a world fighting over oil and threatened by climate change."

It’s the usual ‘Green car’ crap. It is not about sustainability, because private mobility by cars is not sustainable, and it’s a totally lunatic way of making short journeys in cities. And what the authors regard as the ‘freedom’ to drive a car impinges on the freedom to walk or cycle, because the entire transport planning system is car-centric and militates against the most benign modes of personal mobility.