In many areas of the world today, air pollution is too visible to any observer, since megacities like Seoul, Mexico City and Bangkok are literally covered with gray clouds of smog that have a very detrimental impact on human health and the environment. During rush hours, the highways, freeways, and side streets are often gridlocked for miles in all directions by hundreds of thousands of frustrated and enraged drivers. During holiday seasons, entire regions of countries can become a gigantic traffic jam in this way, which certainly eliminates any sense of comfort and personal convenience commonly associated with the passenger automobile. Mass public transportation would be the best method for dealing with gridlock and air pollution in all major metropolitan areas like these, particularly using subways and high-speed railroads.
Today, it should be obvious that the environment and general quality of life on this planet simply cannot survive if present trends continue, which means that cars will have to be taxed out of existence. At the same time, mass transportation should be heavily subsidized and incentivized so that commuters have a positive desire to start using it more frequently. Obviously, these ideas will run into tremendous opposition from the oil and gas industry, and the various lobbyists and think tanks that it funds, but this is also true of any proposal related to the reduction of global warming, alternative energy or public transportation (Perry 2012).
All these problems of pollution, congestion and climate change are very well known today. Unfortunately, most attempts to reduce the number of cars and support alternatives are being blocked by powerful corporate interests that do not wish to alter the present system. An extreme example of this in the U.S. is how energy and natural resource companies spend billions of dollars a year of lobbying and donations to politicians, while those who advocate public transportation or alternative energy cannot hope to match their power and influence (Griffin 2009). Unless this changes air pollution, gridlock and climate change will continue to worsen, perhaps to the point where the environmental damage becomes irreparable.
Griffin, James M. A Smart Energy Policy: An Economist’s Rx for Balancing Cheap, Clean, and Secure Energy. Yale University Press, 2009.
Perry, Richard. “Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign against Climate Science.” The New York Times, February 15, 2012