Lots of cars, of course, but even more trucks. Trucks—pickups, minivans, and SUVs—account for an increasing percentage of vehicle sales in America. First, cars:
And, now, trucks:
As you can imagine, we spend a lot of money for personal transportation.
The transportation sector accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
As I mentioned before, we’d have no televised baseball games without cars and trucks. Global warming versus baseball?
Trucks emit more gases than cars. A large RAM pickup, for example, emits over seven tons of CO2 per year (on average). A Honda Accord emits about 5 tons for the smaller version. A Prius generates about three tons a year (source).
With cheap gas and cheap money, Americans are buying more trucks than cars, thus spewing forth more carbon. Denmark deters car ownership with high taxes, to be sure, but also the country has excellent alternative modes of transportation. We do things differently in the U.S., making it easy to own or lease increasingly larger vehicles. Less than 30 percent of Copenhagen residents own cars. The U.S. has the highest car ownership rate on the planet, with an average of more than one vehicle per person (source).
Weaning Americans off their cars presents a monumental challenge. Aside from cheap money and gas, our patterns of development, marked by low-density sprawl, encourage, if not require, us to have at least one car in the household. Since we can’t very well destroy the suburbs then start over with saner arrangements, the more practical means to both drive and reduce emissions is to power cars via electricity. That’s where Tesla and, according to rumors, Apple comes in. Detroit, the synecdoche for cars-cum-gasoline, will not go down without a long and bitter fight.
Meanwhile, emissions and warming continue.