Climate Change & Big Cars

Often I wonder if the vast majority of people are just stupid. Or to be a bit kinder, perhaps they’re illiterate or they get their strategic decision-making “data” from watching the climate deniers on Fox News since that’s the only channel available to them.

But when I saw this in today’s Minneapolis StarTribune I shook my head in disgust and sadness that confirmed my worst fears about my fellow human beings:

climate-change_big_cars

Loudest climate warning issued,” was replaced last evening online by a much clearer one: UN climate panel says emissions need to drop to zero this century to keep warming in check. It states that, “Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.’s panel on climate science said Sunday.” That means NO greenhouse gases. You know…like the ONES PRODUCED BY BURNING FOSSIL FUELS IN BIG CARS!

From the report:

“Emissions have risen so fast in recent years that the world has used up two-thirds of its carbon budget, the maximum amount of CO2 that can be emitted to have a likely chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming.”

Two degrees of warming would devastate the world’s coastlines…you know, like Florida’s (more on that in a moment).

So then I was taken aback when I saw this article on the front page of the StarTribune’s Business section that said, “Small-vehicle sales seen slumping as low fuel prices benefit SUVs. Larger SUVs are looking good to buyers as gas hovers near $3 a gallon in much of the nation.

What?

BUYING BIGGER CARS

Some quotes from that second article that illustrates why I said all that stuff about people in my opening paragraph:

The price of gas per gallon is drastically low — I’m really celebrating and enjoying that at the moment,” said Andrea Turner, a Tennessee mother who last week bought a 2014 Buick Encore sport-utility vehicle. The Encore has extra space to fit her 5-foot-11 frame and 10-year-old son’s soccer gear.

You just feel so much better when you look at the pump, and you’re pleasantly surprised,” said Jeff Schuster, an analyst for LMC Automotive in Troy, Mich., who sees a direct link between gasoline prices and small-car sales. “You say, ‘Maybe I’ll splurge on something and treat myself.’ ”

Right now, gas mileage is not that much of an issue for consumer choice,” said Greg Williams, new-car sales manager at Holman Honda of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

It’s not gas mileage…it’s the carbon going in to the atmosphere dummy. Hope Greg Williams has plans to get out of Florida since this is what the National Geographic climate change map shows for Florida when all Arctic and Antarctic ice melts (the absolute worst-case scenario, I should add):

Florida completely submerged if/when all ice melts in the Arctic and Antarctica

Florida completely submerged when all ice melts in the Arctic and Antarctica

 

2 Comments

  1. alan geeves on November 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    The Buick Encore mentioned above is hardly the SUV of yesteryear. Quoted economy of 33mpg while not impressive compared to hybrids etc is still a worthy step up from the likes of the Cadillac Escalade etc.

    One step in the right direction even if its only a little step.

    Over here in New Zealand we pay equivalent of US $3 for a litre of gas not a gallon which is about 4 litres



  2. Steve Borsch on November 4, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Agreed that the Encore is a step in the right direction. Most mainstream car makers are, in fact, significantly increasing their mileage ratings. In the U.S., the CAFE standards (the average mileage of a car maker’s entire fleet offered for sale) is set at 54.5 MPG by 2025. Hopefully that will help mitigate climate change.

    When I’ve been in Europe, the cars I rent almost always are diesels and they are small comparatively. It’s because, like in your country New Zealand, fuel is not heavily subsidized and prices are set to encourage conservation in both car size and kilometers per gallon….and get smart about what we really need to have for a vehicle size and weight (and mileage).



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