We have a problem with oil on this planet, namely there is not enough of it, and we all want it. So far it’s been Europe and the USA (mostly the USA) using up almost all the oil. Mainly for things like gas, and power plants. Oil also has this other little problem, it is full of carbon. When you burn it it shoots out co2 (and other toxic nasties) which is causing our planet to warm at an alarming rate. So what would happen if billions of people that couldn’t afford cars suddenly could.
Next fall, the Indian automaker Tata Motors is scheduled to introduce its long-awaited Peopleâ€™s Car, with a sticker price of about $2,500. Hot on its tail may be as many as half a dozen new ultra-affordable vehicles â€” some from the worldâ€™s leading carmakers, including Toyota and Renault-Nissan.
â€œAsk one billion people, and 99 percent of them are going to say they want a car,â€ said Jagdish Khattar, managing director of Maruti Suzuki India, the countryâ€™s largest car manufacturer. â€œThe problem is, How many can afford it?â€
By 2013, CSM predicts, Indiaâ€™s market will expand an average of 14.5 percent a year, compared with just over 8 percent for China. CSM estimates that in 2013, the Chinese will buy 10.8 million cars, compared with 3.8 million in India, but says there is already a glut of local and foreign manufacturers in China, making India a more attractive long-term market.
If global manufacturers can figure out how to make small, cheap cars in India, they are expected to start exporting them to other fast-growing markets where the proportion of car ownership remains small â€” places like Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East.(via)
This is a big problem. A global environment problem and a moral problem. These cheap cars will run on gasoline. They will spread like wildfire and the problems that come with them will spread too. India will be forced to build more highways, this means less nature, more concrete (itself a big producer of green house gasses). It means traffic, it means traffic jams, it means worse air quality. In places that already have some of the worst air quality in the world they will be adding in lots of car fumes. These will also pretty much unregulated cars, no crash tests, nothing. Expect car crash deaths to rise.
So basically having the worlds poor driving internal combustion cars is a disaster for everyone. But where do we get off telling these people they can’t do the same exact thing we have been doing for decades. Why shouldn’t some guy in India get to drive his cheap little death trap of a car if some asshole in America can drive his giant hummer around? I mean where do we get off?
I am not sure how we are going to solve this problem. One way might be to try and develop a cheap electric car. Something that would run on a couple of solar panels, and be workable in a place without much of an electrical grid. Another might be to trade these countries aid for the promise they wont develop these cheap cars. Another might be to invest billions in public transportation in these countries. Yet another might be to help these countries develop city planning based on pedestrian and bike travel, along with public transport so that the citizens don’t need cars as much.
Most of the potential solutions mentioned above should also be applied to the United States and Europe (to be fair Europe is so far ahead of us on these routes that I am reluctant to even include them in the list). There is no easy solution, but what I do know is that billions more people driving cars makes the squabbles we have been having over oil to date look like a tea party with friends.