This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Clark Williams-Derry is a smart guy, and so I defer to him when he says that building new lanes for cars doesn’t improve congestion. But I’m still skeptical about the claim that fuel efficiency will increase by only 2 percent a year over the next 50 years. True, fuel efficiency has stagnated in the past, but we as a society are far more interested in fuel efficiency now than we were even during the gas crunch of the 1970s. And the cost of fuel, adjusted for inflation, is now higher than ever. Even higher than in 1981, the previous peak year for fuel prices.
Additionally, new technology is coming on line that’s going to radically reshape the picture. This car, for example, gets 300MPG and will be available for purchase next year:
The link wetween miles driven and GHGs (Greenhouse Gases) is only going to get more tenuous over the next few decades. As that happens, environmentalists will lose another weapon in our arsenal. We need new arguments for smart growth that are directly about smart growth (like preserving wetlands, for example) instead of related issues like carbon emissions or national security.