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Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainabilityby Daniel Sperling
Synopses & Reviews
Today there are over a billion vehicles in the world, and within twenty years, the number will double, largely a consequence of China's and India's explosive growth. Given that greenhouse gases are already creating havoc with our climate and that violent conflict in unstable oil-rich nations is on the rise, will matters only get worse? Or are there hopeful signs that effective, realistic solutions can be found?
Blending a concise history of cars and their impact on the world, leading transportation experts Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon explain how we arrived at this state, and what we can do about it. Sperling and Gordon assign blame squarely where it belongs-on the auto-industry, short-sighted government policies, and consumers. They explore such solutions as getting beyond the gas-guzzler monoculture, re-inventing cars, searching for low-carbon fuels, and more. Promising advances in both transportation technology and fuel efficiency together with shifts in traveler behavior, they suggest, offer us a way out of our predicament.
The authors conclude that the two places that have the most troublesome emissions problems--California and China--are the most likely to become world leaders on these issues. Arnold Schwarzenegger's enlightened embrace of eco-friendly fuel policies, which he discusses in the foreword, and China's forthright recognition that it needs far-reaching environmental and energy policies, suggest that if they can tackle the issue effectively and honestly, then there really is reason for hope. Updated with a new afterword that sheds light on the profound changes in the global economy in the last year, Two Billion Cars makes the case for why and how we need to transform transportation now more than ever.
--Tom Vanderbilt, Wilson Quarterly
"Provocative and pleasurable, far-seeing and refreshing, fact-based and yet a page-turner, global in scope but rooted in real places. The authors make a convincing case that smart consumers driving smart electric-drive cars can find the critical path to a safer planet."
--Robert Socolow, Princeton University
"In this insightful and persuasive book, Sperling and Gordon highlight one of the biggest environmental challenges of this century: two billion cars. They rightly contend that we cannot avert the worst of global warming without making our cars cleaner and petroleum-free. Luckily the authors also offer a roadmap for navigating this problem that is both visionary and achievable."
--Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
"This look at the global automobile industry explains how such a staggering number of autos came to be, and how we can sustain them all and the planet at the same time. The range of topics is wide; one of the most interesting chapters looks at the psychology of hybrid vehicle purchasers: 'at least for the early buyers... it's about the symbolism of "doing the right thing," even if the individual contribution is infinitesimally small.' The fortunes of fuel-sippers are also considered in relation to gas prices: in the year GM launched the Hummer brand and Toyota unveiled the Prius, gas prices at 'near historic lows' made the Hummer ubiquitous in cities and suburbs. Elsewhere, Sperling and Gordon examine the problem of China's car ownership explosion, but return repeatedly to the 'pioneering role' of California. Sperling and Gordon are upfront with their California ties(Sperling serves on the California Air Resources Board, Gordon has worked with the California Energy Commission, Gov. Schwarzenegger provides the foreword), and though they profile somegenuinely groundbreaking work, it can read more like public relations than objective reporting; further, some proposed solutions (personal 'carbon budgets') read like parodies of Left Coast eco-liberalism. Luckily, there's enough grounding global perspective to save the text from too much California dreaming. 15 b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
At present, there are roughly a billion motor vehicles in the world. Within twenty years, the number will double to 2 billion, largely a consequence of China's and India's explosive growth. Given that greenhouse gases are already creating havoc with our climate and that violent conflict in oil-rich nations is on the rise, does this mean that matters will only get worse? Or are there hopeful signs that effective, realistic solutions can be found?
In Two Billion Cars, transportation experts Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon provide a concise history of America's love affair with cars and an overview of the global oil and auto industries. America is still the leading emissions culprit, and what is especially worrying is that developing nations are becoming car-centric cultures as well. The authors explain how we arrived in this dangerous state, and also what we can do about it. Sperling and Gordon expose the roots of the problem-- the resistant auto-industry, dysfunctional oil markets, short-sighted government policies, and unmotivated consumers. They zero in on reforming our gas-guzzling culture, expanding the search for low-carbon fuels, environment-friendly innovations in transportation planning, and more. Promising advances in both transportation technology and fuel efficiency together with shifts in travel behavior, they suggest, offer us a realistic way out of our predicament.
Ironically, the authors contend that the two places with the most troublesome emissions problems--California and China-- are taking the lead in developing effective strategies that can help wean us from our reliance on conventional, petroleum-fueled cars. California's embrace of eco-friendly policies, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses in the foreword, and China's willingness to confront the twin environmental and energy crises wrought by an exponential growth in cars, suggest that if they can develop ingenious and effective solutions, then there really is reason for hope.
About the Author
Daniel Sperling is Professor of Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis, and Founding Director of UC-Davis's Institute of Transportation Studies. He also serves on the California Air Resources Board.
Deborah Gordon is a senior transportation policy consultant who has worked with the National Commission on Energy Policy, the California Energy Commission, International Council for Clean Transportation, and the Chinese government to develop fiscal policies for their burgeoning auto fleet. She earlier developed and directed transportation policy programs for the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Paperback Edition
1. Surviving Two Billion Cars
Transportation Trends: Headed in the Wrong Direction
Roadmap to Survival
Hard Work Ahead
2. Beyond the Gas-Guzzler Monoculture
Internal Combustion: From the Model T to Cars on Steroids
The Quest for a Better Engine: Electric Drive Technology
Beyond Cars: New Options for Personal Mobility
The Coming Transformations
3. Toward a Greener Detroit
The Making of the Detroit Mindset
The Jolt of Japanese Competition
Moving Detroit Toward Green
4. In Search of Low-Carbon Fuels
Petroleum Fuels in Transition
Alternative Fuels Past, Present, and Future
Steps Toward a Post-Petroleum World
5. Aligning Big Oil with the Public Interest
The Changing Oil Supply
Unconventional Oil: Savior or Disaster?
The Changing Oil Industry
Big Oil's Environmental Epiphany
Big Carrots and Big Sticks
6. The Motivated Consumer
The Car-Centric American
From Mean to Green: Shifting Consumer Identities
Aligning Incentives with Socially and Environmentally Responsible Behavior
7. California's Pioneering Role
From Smog and Sprawl to Environmental Leadership
Leadership in Climate and Air Quality Policy
Leadership in Clean Energy Technology
The Trendsetting California Consumer
California's Ripple Effect
8. Stimulating Chinese Innovation
China's Extreme Makeover
Toward an Enlightened Car Policy
Innovations That Might Spread From China
How the Rest of the World Can Help China Help Us All
9. Driving Toward Sustainability
Imagining Futurama III
Our Strategy for Getting There
Transforming Consumer and Local Government Behavior
Realizing the Vision
What Our Readers Are Saying
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