Green Update: Are Green Cars Doomed to Fail?

1899 Columbia electric Landaulet

1899 Columbia Electric Landaulet

Boy, we do love our cars. Some of us love them so much we even convince ourselves to like green cars, those expensive, range-limited toys that make us feel we’re doing our part to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. The Frankfurt International Motor Show is going crazy with green cars.

I write about ’em every week and praise them, for all their flaws, as a step in the right direction. Yet in fact, as one authority argues, in the grand scheme of world pollution, your individual actions have virtually no impact. The problem is far too vast.

Recycling and refusing plastic bags at the store can make you feel better but, like driving a green car, it won’t make a quantitative difference. The actual present economic, biosystem and health damage done by carbon dioxide pollution is about $400 per person per year in the U.S.

Society pays for this in a kind of reverse socialism, rather like we do with emergency room health care. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is doing all it can to catch up to us in their emissions, though some “third-world” countries act in more enlightened ways than we do.

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