Tuesday, February 10

All the cars in China

We knew this was coming, but it's now official. The United States is no longer the world's largest car consumer. China is.

From a BBC report:

"So why is he interested in buying an American car? "I long for America," he smiles. "Its democracy. Its cars."

He's laughing, but he's not joking. He's impressed by the car.

Above him is a flag with an American eagle."

An NPR reporter found the same response. One father was so proud of his son for purchasing his car, he jokingly asked the reporter if she knew of an American wife to go along with the American car.

We are speaking loud and clear, and the world is listening.

Today's benchmark brings to mind some words from a column published this week by one of my professors Timothy Beatley:
"The prospect of major increases in the auto-traveling population in the heavily populated developing world coming just as our planet faces the double challenges of peak oil and climate change seems insane. Yet, to say this as an American smacks of an "I have mine you shouldn't have yours" point of view.

What we should be saying to the world is that the private automobile, electric or combustion, is a technology of the past. Responsible, resilient cities must adopt profoundly different models of urban development that are better suited for the global challenges we face.


Scott Witmer said...

In college, most of my Chinese language class went to China for part of their Sophmore year. When they got back, a few of them told me how shocked they were by the attitude towards pollution and especially car ownership among many of the people they met. It's not just that it refects American culture's entitlement to conspicuous consumption, but that it takes it to a whole other frightening level. Given the number of people in China who cultivate the ideal of owning a car as a status symbol, our planet is doomed. Of course, there are many Chinese citizens who take public transportation or ride their bike, but there is definitely an exaggerated cultural signifigance to the automobile that will be dangerous in the long run. Check out this NYTimes article from a few years back:

Scott Witmer said...

Part of the link broke off.
Here it is, in two pieces: