The effects of cars on humanity

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nations once held thousands of unique human settlements where people lacked access to inter-village communication and trade. They lived their entire lives in secluded settlements, depending on animals or foot to travel. Language, culture and political structures were unique in each village and people were physically fit.

The automobile industry came along with developed road systems that accommodated heavy vehicles and rubber tires. Assembly line production changed the face of transportation. A growing middle class contributed taxes to build more roads. Government bonds financed highways and bridges.

Cars dictated status, which attracted workers to flock to urbanized areas. As cars became a commodity, it gave rise to a few problems. People started getting lethargic, depending more and more on vehicles, and in turn attracting a lot of other ailments like obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

The migration of people from rural to urban places brought about the deterioration of the close-knit village units.  There were no longer unique attributes to villages, and the urban world dictated the common language that was to be followed should the youth require jobs.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that there were 254.4 million registered passenger cars in the United States in 2007. China had an estimated 100 million registered passenger cars.

While growth is massive, the resources for it are limited. Cars are either powered by fossil fuels or electromagnetic systems. A hunger for cars and fuel forces mineral-deficient nations into relationships with countries that sell oil, gas and minerals for hybrid and electric cars. Political instability in the Middle East, the dangers of offshore oil drilling, and tight rare-earth mineral markets have auto dependent nations looking for solutions.

During the pre-industrial era CO2 was at 280 ppm. By 2011, the level was 391.3 ppm. At that level, it is estimated that today’s CO2 levels are higher than at any time during the past 800,000 years affecting the ozone layer of the earth.

High risk offshore oil prospecting caught the public’s attention when the BP oil spill of 2011 released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the delicate ecosystem of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. As a result, a growing majority of humans now understand the need to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels.

Offshore oil spills can cause permanent changes to the planet’s oceans, food chains and underwater life. These changes could in turn affect weather patterns. The improper mining of rare earths, the only commercially viable alternative to combustion, can damage or poison the land forever. As an alternative to fossil fuel burning, it can take from eight to14 pounds of rare earth minerals for each car. Rare earth mining is extremely toxic and destructive to the land.

Since resources are finite, owners of all hybrids, electric or combustion-powered cars will continue to struggle with supply and demand issues. Cars create economic systems that extend into many areas of society. The complexities of labor, regulations, insurances, law enforcement and highway maintenance alone are overwhelming. At a national and personal level, the question is always, “What is the real cost of owning and operating a car?”

Globalization has led to manufacturing and investment collaborations, international trade, global competition and money from global investment firms. The automotive industry has become a complicated industry.

The behavior and lifestyles of car-enabled populations continue to change, and not always in good ways. Cars enabled criminal enterprises develop. Illegal drug distribution, car thefts, human trafficking and gang migrations are examples. Cars make it possible to spend more time away from home, but that freedom comes at a cost of deteriorating community involvement and family relationships.

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