Ode to the Auto

The effects, worldwide, of automobile dependance.

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From 1992-1997, America paved over more than six million acres of agricultural land. That's an area the size of Maryland.."

The American Farmland Trust

The amount of Carbon Monoxide released by a single automobile each day.

Air Pollution
"It has been calculated that 70% of Carbon Dioxide, 45% of Nitrogen Oxides, and 34% of the Hydrocarbon pollution in the United States can be traced directly to automobile exhausts.

The Columbia Encyclopedia
6th Edition 2001

. A study from Fresno, Ca. finds that air pollution has been found to be even more deadly and more costly than the car crashes in the Fresno and Los Angeles metro areas.

This confirms earlier studies here and here linking air quality with lung function in children.

“Most of the body during driving remains still and passive, not like walking where the entire body exerts effort and remains continuously active, tension tends to build up where the body is physically restricted and constricted.

Dealing with stress and pressure in the vehicle, Taxonomy of Driving Behavior: Affective, Cognitive, Sensorimotor
Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl
University of Hawaii Oct. 2002

The cost to society of automobile death and injury, is conservatively estimated at $17 billion annually. The vehicle damage adds at least another $5 billion yearly."

Princeton University

Drunk Driving

4,933 Americans are killed and 500,000 are injured by drunk drivers every year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
New York Times


Roughly 40% of the cost to maintain America's roadways comes from sources other than those imposed on drivers (blue and green lines on the graph). This means that even people who are car-free or car-light are paying the lions share of roadways.

Source TBA

The entire capacity of this six lane bridge could be filled
with one single train line.

It takes three lanes of a given size to move 40,000 people across a bridge in one hour by using automated trains, four to move them on buses, twelve to move them in their cars, and only two lanes for them to pedal across on bicycles.

Ivan Illich

Finance –

It costs approximately $60 million to build a single mile of urban freeway. To put this into perspective, Portland, Ore. invested $57 million to create a 300- mile bikeway network between 1991 and 2008.

Roger Geller
Transportation Planner for PBOT


The Federal Government subsidies for the oil industry include:

  • -$5.7 billion: the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
  • -$784 million: the Percentage Depletion Allowance
  • -$769 million: the Nonconventional Fuel Production Credit
  • -$200 million: the Enhanced Oil Recovery Credit
  • -$97 million: the Department of Interiors Oil Resources Management Programs

The International Center for Technology Assessment

The Washington Post

Ground If you thought that the Exxon Valdez disaster was bad, just think what could happen if such a disaster occurred on the scale of millions of acres. The Alberta Tar Sands are just such a disaster.

Mother Jones

©Greenpeace/Matthieu Barret

According to the latest findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in order to stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, global emissions must be reduced to at least 60 percent below 1990 levels.

New York Times
How Green is BP?
Dec. 8th 2002


The University of California did postmortem autopsies on one hundred otherwise healthy young accident victims, they found that 80 percent had 'serious lung abnormalities' and 27 percent had 'severe lesions on their lungs.'

Asphalt Nation
Jane Kay

Italian researchers have found that traffic pollution reduces sperm quality in young and middle-aged men. A study of 170 men, half of whom were tollbooth workers, showed that those with high exposure to exhaust gasses had "poorer sperm quality.

"Traffic 'damages' male fertility"
April 30th 2003

Science News online recently stated that a direct link between exposure to vehicular emissions (smog) is associated with an increased chance of suffering a heart attack. The study found that approximately 3/4 of all heart attack victims were either in traffic at the time or had recently been in traffic. Associations with stress were ruled out by the equal susceptibility of public transit riders.

Smog Clogs Arteries:
Pollution does lasting harm to blood vessels
David Shiga
Science News Online
also inThe New England Journal of Medicine

© Andy Singer


Americans devote 20-40% of their income to automobile transportation.

Transportation Tidbits
University of Montana


Mere months after Honda advertised its air-cleansing LEV (Low Emissions Vehicle) Accord, with a "Mr. Clean" muscleman declaring "you are what you drive," the Justice Department and the EPA fined the company $l2.6 million for falsifying test results on said clean air.

Asphalt Nation
Jane Kay


New homes on virgin soil produce a net cost [to taxpayers] of $700-2200 per dwelling at 5 units per acre.

The American Farmland Trust


Between 2000-2002, 580 pedestrians were killed in fatal auto [crashes] in New York City. During that span, only 80 people were indicted for criminally negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter - the laws most often used to punish killer drivers.

'State Spares the Rod for those who Kill with Cars'
New York Daily News
Dec. 29, 2003

Transportation Alternatives


“Shell [petroleum] operations still impossible unless ruthless military operations are undertaken for smooth economic activities to commence."

Nigerian military officer Paul Okuntimo
1998 confidential note
to the Nigerian Government

New York

New York State motorists pay $4.5 billion annually in users fees…..All levels of government….spend $6.9 billion annually on road construction and maintenance, driver and vehicle licensing, road-related police and fire services and other highway expenditures in New York State."

This results in a driver subsidy of $2.4 billion a year.

Komanoff Energy Associates Consulting
funded by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign
quoted in New York Newsday
Marh 29, 1994


The heads of three royal medical colleges issued an unprecedented warning on February 11 about the rising epidemic of obesity. Obesity rates have ….quadrupled for men in the past 20 years. "We have got to remove counter-productive messages, like the assumption it is unsafe to go out of the house and play," said Dr. Penny Gibson of the Royal College of Pediatrics. "Children need designated play areas, streets without cars and the opportunity to
exercise and play at school."

The Royal College of Physicians
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health
The Faculty of Public Health


In 2003, I departed Quito... on a mission that was like no other I had ever accepted. I was hoping to end a war I had helped create. As is the case with so many things we [economic hit men] must take responsibility for, it is a war that is virtually unknown anywhere outside the country where it is fought. I was on my way to meet with the ...tribes determined to prevent our oil companies from destroying their homes, families, and lands, even if it means they must die in the process. For them, this is a war about the survival of their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and natural resources.

John Perkins
'Confessions of an Economic Hitman'


In a legal filing with an investigating magistrate, lawyers representing a group of Burmese workers have accused French energy giant TotalFinaElf of holding workers against their will and imposing forced labor upon workers.



Driving is a regulated activity, cars and trucks have powerful engines capable of going faster than what is allowed – ever.  Drivers are punished for violating these regulations. This imposition arouses a rebellious streak in many people.

Dealing with stress and pressure in the vehicle, Taxonomy of Driving Behavior: Affective, Cognitive, Sensorimotor
Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl
University of Hawaii Oct. 2002


Roughly, 8,000 pedestrians are killed and another 100,000 are injured in automobile 'accidents' each year.

Stretegic Highway Safety Plan
based on data from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program

Quality of
Many communities have no sidewalks, and no place to walk to, which is bad for public safety as well as for our nation's physical health. It has become impossible in such settings for neighbors to greet one another on the street, or for kids to walk to their own nearby schools. A gallon of gas can be used up just driving to get a gallon of milk. All of these add up to more stress for already overstressed family lives.

former Vice President Al Gore in a speech announcing the Administration's new Smart Growth Proposals
January 11th 1999.

Religion The moral responsibility of road users, both drivers and pedestrians, derives from the obligation to respect the Fifth and Seventh Commandments: "Thou shalt not kill" and "Thou shalt not steal". The gravest sins against human life, deriving from the Fifth Commandment, are suicide and murder, but this commandment also requires respect for one's own and other people's physical and mental wellbeing.
Careless absent-mindedness and negligence are acts that go against such commandments. . .

The Vatican

Road Rage The symbolic portrayal of the car has tied it to individual freedom, promoting a mental attitude of defensiveness and territoriality. The result is that motorists feel invaded while they drive, lulling them into a hostile mental state, even to warlike postures and aggressive reactions.

Dealing with stress and pressure in the vehicle, Taxonomy of Driving Behavior: Affective, Cognitive, Sensorimotor
Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl
University of Hawaii Oct. 2002

Salt The most common pollutant to soil and water near the roadside is sodium chloride. It is used as a de-icer to melt snow on roads, highways and sidewalks. Sodium ions are carried by the plant into growing sections and can accumulate to toxic levels.

Department of Defense Urban Forestry Manual
August 1996
University of New Hampshire Technology Transfer Center

SUVs According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while sport utility vehicles account for just over 1/3 of all registered U.S. passenger vehicles, collisions involving SUVs account for over half of all fatalities in light vehicle crashes.

Is It Wise to Purchase an SUV?
Rachel Alexander
December 10th 2001



Congressional leaders criticized the Bush administration for not being more aggressive in pressing the Saudi government, particularly since 15 of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks were Saudi citizens…..”It has been a longstanding policy of the United States government over several decades that if the kingdom [Saudi Arabia] helps us with oil and helps us with the Middle East we won't ask them about their internal issues." said William Wechsler

Saudi Arabia is Called Slow in Helping Stem the Flow of Cash to Militants
Jeff Gerth and Judith Miller
New York Times
December 1, 2002

Theft The effectiveness of many [antitheft and tracking systems] is questionable. The sensitivity of audible alarms to touch or movement, for example, provokes a "boy who cried wolf" reaction. When a car alarm goes off, people tend not to react because the alarms activate so frequently for reasons other than actual theft. HLDI studies show no overall reduction in theft losses for vehicles with such alarms.

Insurance Industry Analyses and Prevention of Motor Vehicle Theft
Kim Hazelbaker
Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI)

Traffic "The average rush-hour driver wasted more than two full days-about 51 hours - sitting in traffic in 2001. The cost of this congestion is approximately $69.5 billion in wasted time and gas.

Texas Transportation Institute

30-50% of urban American land is buried beneath a layer of asphalt.

'Getting There'
Stephen Goddard
Quoted in Asphalt Nation


VOCs High levels of VOC (volotile organic compounds) of up to 64,000 micrograms per cubic meter have been found to last 2-3 months after automobile manufacture. Humans exposed to less than half of this dosage have reported ill effects within minutes.

Commonwealth Scientific
and Industrial Research Organisation

Water The National Research Council has reported that about 29 million gallons of oil enter the oceans around North America each year as a result of human activities. Of that, the largest share, 15.6 million gallons, comes from rivers and runoff, largely from such things as street runoff, industrial waste, municipal wastewater and wastewater from refineries. In addition, 1.6 million gallons of the pollution comes from recreational vessels, where two-stroke engines that mix oil a and gas are often used in personal watercraft and as outboard engines.

National Research Council
U.S. Water News Online - June 2002
quoted in EV World December 15, 2002

20% of all vehicle crashes are attributed to the driver falling asleep at the wheel.

British Medical Journal

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