Thursday, January 10, 2008

Affordable cars for 1.1 billion

1.1 million Indians potentially gain access to a $2500 car - ignoring those that might be exported. One can take, as I do, the elitist view that this is environmentally damaging in terms of its contribution to global warming – it is difficult to see it as a positive - and it will certainly add to congestion problems in India even if it does make automotive transport more readily available to the Indian masses. Others will argue that environmental criticisms of the car are misplaced – Indians have the same right to destroy the earth’s climate as rich westerners.
Two facts:

Apart from Asia, South America, much of the former Soviet and the Arab countries are developing rapidly. Even the African basket case is looking promising despite genocidal conflicts related to barbarous tribalism. But, with current technologies and current populations, environmental constraints related to energy and food supplies mean the whole world cannot live like mass consumption Westerners. Hence development of poor countries will be thwarted, living standards of affluent countries will fall or concomitant with economic development must go technological changes or sustained population reductions.

Every silver lining is potentially just the interior of a dark cloud. Maybe its the Melbourne heat today (40 degrees C) but the usually half-full glass seems half-empty today.

Update: there is a long-meandering discussion of this post at Catallaxy.


conrad said...

That is a very elitist view. We can all have cars in rich countries, but only rich people in 3rd world countries can have them. If 2 billion more cars are to hit the Earth, I imagine the price of fuel will reach levels that will make running them uneconomical anyway (I imagine a lot of the components might increase in price too). It seems to me the outcome of interest is which countries will still be able to afford them, and it isn't clear that the current status quo will hold.

Personally, the main thing I see as dissapointing is that the countries that don't have high numbers of cars now are willing to accomodate them, when it appears that this strategy is always doomed to fail in big cities (cf. HK & Singapore).

hc said...

Conrad, I assume you are right about the price effects that will tend to force fuel-driven cars into the hands of the affluent though this will presumably lead to innovations toward electricity driven vehicles where the electricity is provided by almost limitless coal supplies.

You still get a bad environmental outcome associated with a positive development outcome.

Bring Back CL's blog said...

Indians to be carstrated?

how can you say to them go for growth but sorry you cannot have cars.

What next?

It is a bit like swearing at theem and then onjecting if they say something back.

Wait you do say that.

At least you are consistent in hyprocisy

whyisitso said...

So Melbourne having 40 degree heat (104 degrees F) in mid-January is supposed to prove global warming! I lived in Melbourne all my life until 1971 and this was just a normal summer hottie in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1939 the Black Friday temperatures exceeded that by a large margin. Get real, Harry.

Im Bored said...

An elitist view Harry? Or just plain selfish? Like the colonists of old, riding around in luxury in the midst of squalor. So youre prepared to get your own positive developmental outcome at the cost of a negative environmental outcome, but then deny others the same? Do you ever read history harry? There's a few things in there that might suggest alternatives for people with your mentality. Either we find solutions for the problems, or the problems will find their own solutions. And they wont be pretty, and if poor dear Harry has to put up with a lower level of material consumption, then you'll be lucky if that's all that happens.

Anonymous said...

This is the best news around in years.

Now the thing to do is to help the poorer countries by developing a viable user-pays infrastructure model that finances all the best roads, bridges and tunnels via profiteering at peak-time and giving the poor a free ride after hours. That way we won't have every city in the world like Bangkok is now.

The cars will have no effect on global warming Harry. Get up to date on the science. If it has an effect it can only be a helpful effect. Since looking at the last 20+ glaciations we conclude from the getgo that the optimum effect we would want from extra CO2 is a tiny bit of extra warming and thats exactly what reasons best-estimate says that we will get.

Now Harry. You have to get up to speed on what energy resources we have. We have enough for infinite production and consumption and its only the capital goods we lack to exploit it. But before we can develop those capital goods we must destroy the highly toxic and anti-sustainability environmentalist movement.

A hateful anti-human movement that must be completely and utterly smashed forwith since all these capital investments have very long lead times.

Here's an energy summary. Read and learn and put out anti-capitalist propaganda no more.

Anonymous said...


If you're truly honest about your conerns, you need to give up your cars immediately. anything less doesn't work Harry

Anonymous said...

Harry doesn't need to give up his car. He needs to give up putting about this global warming crap.

This is the worst racket that the UN has pushed so far. And the UN has involved itself with a lot of rackets with a lot of dodgy activities.

whyisitso said...

Anonymous No ??##,

You really must stop calling it "global warming". That's politically incorrect, it's now "climate change". That way you can blame the snow in Baghdad on CO2.

seriously Harry, as you have your head around climate change science, can you please give us a lead on the explanation as to how CO2 growth causes unusualy cold conditions.

whyisitso said...

Sorry the link was truncated. Too long I guess. If you're interested you can get it from Tim Blar's blog.

Anonymous said...

There's a bit more behind the glossy sales pitch