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Driving with Technology
Do you think we can break our oil addiction without changing our lifestyle?
I do. As I’ve been out talking about Freedom from Oil in the past six months, I found this to be one of the most controversial points of all. I don’t think that we need to drive in cramped and uncomfortable cars. Or limit our mobility in ways that are deeply antithetical.
In fact, there are ways to improve life to help solve this problem. Like telecommuting and smart growth. Transit-oriented development with people living near subway stations can enhance life dramatically. Those types of changes happen even more slowly than the turnover of the vehicle fleet. But to the extent that we can improve quality of life with measures that cut down on traffic and enhance access to mass transit in livable ways, that plays a role.
I don’t think the solution depends on discomfort. Interestingly, I have found a number people who fundamentally disagree. They think that this is about learning to do with less.
How about learning to drive less? Vehicles miles traveled keeps going up—certainly on a global level with adoption of private cars in Asia.
That trend is continuing. It’s incredible. The solution is certainly not having Chinese and Indian citizens stop buying cars in the next decade or two. That’s not going to happen. The solution to this has to be the development of technology that will allow us to drive and to minimize the footprint on the planet and our dependence on this one commodity that so shapes international relations. I think plug-ins are as potent as any technology for doing that.