Author Michael Hobbes
Few objects symbolize America’s unique place in the world better than the automobile. Residents of the United States drive more than 37 miles per day, nearly twice as much as the average Swede or Norwegian. America has 1.16 cars for every licensed driver and spends roughly $534 per person each year building and maintaining its road network. Three out of four U.S. workers drive to work alone; fewer than 1 in 20 walk or bicycle.
America’s unique enthusiasm for the automobile has become one of the greatest challenges to solving climate change. Transportation is now the greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. And while utility companies are phasing out coal in favor of renewable energy, the auto industry is moving in the opposite direction. In March, the International Energy Agency reported that America’s oil use was rising more quickly than any other nation. In 2016, the average American drove 1,300 more miles than they did in 1992. Nearly every advance in fuel economy has been wiped out by more driving, bigger cars — or deliberate sabotage by the Trump administration.