american consumers spend one-quarter of their income on cars, which is more than they spend on food. american transport industries swallows up 41 percent of the nation's entire energy consumption. the car industry consumes around 20 percent of america’s steel, 12 percent of its aluminum, 10 percent of its copper, 51 percent of its lead, 95 per cent of its nickel, 35 percent of zinc and 60 percent of its rubber.
it has been said that, although cars reduce time it takes to get from a to b most people do not use cars to save time going to and from the office or when shopping, but to enable them to live ever further away, so that their journey time does not change. in short, they save no time at all. one does not know whether to laugh or cry.
second, the death toll and damage caused by cars is truly frightful. accidents claim 55,000 lives annually, and five million people suffer long term injury. the american national safety committee estimates that the number of people who have died under the wheels of a car exceeds the total number of war deaths for the past 200 years from an economic point of view the loss of life due to road accidents costs ten times as much as other forms of violent crime. in 1975 expenditure on social damage including cars reached $37 billion. cars also cause serious damage to the environment. massive road development schemes have taken over 30 percent of the land in 53 urban centres in the usa. in the commercial districts of los angeles, around two-thirds of the land has been designated as parking lots or driving areas. planners looking at wastage in urban transport systems have coined a new term: car erosion.
finally, pollution must not be ignored. america’s 150 million cars emit energy in the form of combination of co2, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons. today, 60 per cent of air pollution in american cities is caused by vehicle emissions. it has been estimated that in 1971, damage to buildings and property caused by air pollution totalled $10 billion. there is a recognized link between the rise in the numbers of deaths from heart disease and cancers, and air pollution caused by vehicle emissions.
today, it is high-energy transport systems that are Chieﬂy responsible for the fragmentation of society and the exhaustion of energy reserves. lf we do not want to see societies destroyed and our countries very existence threatened then we cannot continue to tolerate this reckless destruction.
(from the book "a new development model and china's future" by deng yingtao page 29)