No global dangers short of celestial disasters or nuclear war threaten complete human extinction, and they're
currently improbable; but a severe anthropogenic environmental affliction is now probable (and this could make
nuclear war more probable in an ecologically destabilized biosphere as the political elites of the wealthier
nations of the world seek scapegoats for declining living standards). At worst environmental crisis involves
famines, wars and the collapse of states and economies, all triggered by simultaneous deterioration in
pollution, land productivity, water and food availability, exhaustion of resources that have propped up
unsustainable lifestyles (e.g.. oil), climatic disruption and plagues, diseases, pestilence through loss of
biodiversity, with human response paralysed by the weakness of the nation-state
and racial and religious conflict. No civilization that has ever existed or been imagined could survive this.
It's reasonable to extrapolate from current environmental destruction to a catastrophe in the mid-late decades
of this century, perhaps resulting in 80% of the human race dying off in the space of 20 years, the "overshoot
and collapse" idea (more 2).
The car contributes in many Anthropogenic Global Dangers:
- Water & Food, Land Degradation - pollutes water and air, hence degrades land, consumes best arable land in
sprawl, demanding larger land clearing to yield the same food as the fertile river valleys overrun by cities,
this hastens desertification and salination in the outer margin of habitation, while reducing the
rendered by these lands and triggering a self perpetuating cycle of collapse.
- Climatic Disruption - After fossil fuel electricity production, cars are the biggest
anthropogenic emitters of CO2.
- Extinctions, Biological Destabilisation - Sprawl destroys immediate habitat and spreads recreational
traffic roadkill, it forces larger areas of land, previously left fallow or as forest, into production,
- War - Wars over resources are endemic to humanity in conditions of shortfall. Famine conditions generate
a "nothing to lose" dynamic, which fuels conflicts with willing soldiers, currently seen in Africa. Poverty
devalues human life easing the road to war. One must acknowledge that the inflated resource demand generated
by the car culture requires exploitation to support it, creating misery and other war precursors.
- Nuclear Meltdowns - car systems inflate the need for industrial and indirectly domestic energy; while
consuming the main non-nuclear energy source, thus reducing alternatives.
- Overpopulation - A problem if there isn't space or resources for the people. Cars consume a lot of both.
- Pollution - Directly, cars pollute air land and water, indirectly they inflate industrial pollution, as
multipliers of consumerism they inflate it further, as mobility culture they encourage evasion.
- State Collapse - Before global government eventuates mobility culture will decimate the state through:
offshore tax havens, flight of fraudsters, weapons and people smuggling, social justice and environmental
legislation undermined by mobile capital moving elsewhere. The car does this on a lower level, draining
government capital, granting criminals better getaway options and contributing to the cult of "limited
liability" private escape.
At a single stroke a Car Ban would improve the problems in all these areas. The problems we face are systemic, they are not the result of criminal aberrations but of the normal and normative behaviours of our civilization; whereas almost all "environmental" measures taken so far have been localized or isolated, hence ineffectual. A car ban; on the other hand, has systemic effects. That's why a car ban is the touchstone of environmental survival, it helps reverse the deterioration of conditions in all these different areas of danger, and perpetuating car-culture prevents the reversal of most of them, regardless of other preventative action.
Ban the Car