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Streetfacts #2: Americans Are Driving Less

We continue our Streetfacts series by looking at the data on driving in the U.S. Beginning in 2005, per-capita driving has declined every year. That's not a blip, it's now an 8-year trend.

The reason? Neither the state of the economy nor changes in gas prices offer a satisfactory explanation. Social preferences and demographic shifts seem to be playing a role. Young people today are less likely to own a car or have a driver's license than young people several years ago. At the same time, America's growing population of seniors are no longer in their peak driving years.

Whatever the combination of factors, people are riding transit, walking, and bicycling more. Even magazines like Motor Trend are examining the shift away from cars.

The upshot is that we need to start making smart transportation investments that align with the new reality: Americans are driving less.

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • al

    Many of the missing passenger and vehicle miles are related to housing construction bust in the suburbs and exurbs. The shift to urban areas from suburban and exurban areas have a smaller effect.

  • Joe R.

    The really big drops will come as the current generation in their 60s to 80s dies off and the millenials enter 30s and 40s. Chances are the children of the millenials will drive even less than them. Long before the majority of the voting age population doesn't drive we'll start to see big changes. Legislators unfortunately are still slow getting the message-namely that people are practically begging for non-car options, even those who have cars and licenses, now that gas shows no signs of ever dropping much under $4 a gallon.

  • Daniel Winks

    Gas will NEVER go down in price, and a large number of economists think a rapid, near exponential, rise will occur in the next 5-10 years. OPEC countries have a vested interest in lying about their reserves, and Saudi Arabia is thought to have barely 1/10th the oil they claim. When they run out (which will happen very quickly, as they'll pump at full speed until the last drop, to help hide their lies), prices will skyrocket. Combine that with a much greater world-wide demand and it's not at all unlikely that sub-$10/gallon gas will be a distant memory in just a few short years.

    Sadly, you're right about the legislators. They'll continue sticking their heads in the sand while we waste billion after billion on freeways and roads that will be sitting empty in 20 or 30 years.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Great, simple video. At the same time our city planners are noticing this trend, the folks in the state DOT's are missing the boat, and still plowing ahead with auto-centric road expansion projects. So short-sighted.

  • Ian Turner

    The comments on that Motor Trend article are fun.

  • Trajko Papuckoski

    Maybe part of the impact is due to more companies letting people work from home and more video conferencing taking place as technology & broadband improve as a subsititute to travelling.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Hey Motor Trend, don't worry the automobile is not over. It will just go back to what it was before WWII.
    A toy for rich people, a recreational vehicle for the middle class, and primary transportation only for people in rural areas.
    Serious everyday metropolitan transportation will be by bicycle, walking, transit, carpools, or avoided altogether thanks to the internet.
    That is hardly inconsistent with a magazine like Motor Trend. In fact, driving wouldn't be as miserable if it took place primarily off peak on country roads.

  • IrvinDawid

    Daniel, when it comes to energy, I think it' best to avoid the word, "never" - it's such a volatile industry, pun intended.

    When oil prices were about $140/barrel in July, 2008, I thought they would never go below $100 - that fall they dipped to $20-$30, I think.

  • IrvinDawid

    While the trend may be driven by demographic changes, I do have to take issue with the notion that gas prices don't matter - they do have an effect, though it may be more of a short term change in travel behavior, including shifts to public transit, more efficient vehicles, etc.

  • al

    What happens when the oil service companies to frac the source rock of Super Giant oil fields? It could be a huge bonanza.

    There is also the coming of ANG (adsorbed natural gas) storage. Combined with LNG and CNG, cars will have relatively cheap fuel for decades to come.

  • Erik Griswold

    Question: How many of you go to a store to shop for absolutely everything?

    Didn't think so.

  • Joe R.

    You neglect to mention thanks to the high extraction costs of those types of fuels (and their lower energy density compared to gasoline), they will probably be equivalent to $5 or greater gasoline. $5 gasoline is more than enough to get electric cars mainstream. In fact, if not for the lack of a better battery, I suspect they would already be mainstream. By 2020 I'll bet a majority of the cars sold will be pure EVs. Once we start mass producing EVs, the cost will drop to less than an equivalent ICE car due to the much simpler drivetrain. That alone would get most people to switch en masse when they're up for a new vehicle. The lower operating/maintenance costs will be the icing on the cake. In fact, with home solar generation probably going mainstream within 5 years, EVs will essentially have "free" fuel. That's a HUGE selling point. Finally, given the issues associated with fracking, I suspect once we have one big accident, or even major contamination of a watershed, the practice will be banned in the United States.

  • Joe R.

    Outside of food, I pretty much order everything online. Much less hassle than physically going to a store. The prices are almost always better also.

  • Joe R.

    Flying will also go back to being primarily for the rich, with the masses taking high-speed trains on longer journeys. I remember my mom telling me as a kid she hardly saw parked cars in the city (this was the early 1940s). Everyone walked or took the trolley or subway. I don't know about the percentages who biked but the cobblestone streets of the era were a detriment to that. In any case, you're 100% correct. The auto will be a toy for the rich and for auto enthusiasts. As such, we'll probably be able to increase standards for licensing once the masses stop driving. Both are good things for auto enthusiasts. Nearly empty roads, probably with much higher speed limits in rural areas, are something the readers of a magazine like Motor Trend should welcome. Getting the masses driving was probably the stupidest thing we as a nation ever did.

  • HankGreen

    We're all going to be under water thanks to global warming before then. Luckily I'll have the market cornered on bike boats.

  • LazyReader

    The lies begin right in the headline of the American Public Transportation Association’s annual press release patting the industry on the back for carrying heavily subsidized riders last year. “Record 10.5 Billion Trips Taken On U.S. Public Transportation In 2012”. It wasn’t actually a record at all, but merely the “second-highest ridership since 1957.” When was the first highest? In 2008, meaning the headline would have been more accurate if it had read, “Transit Ridership Falls Since 2008.” Anti-auto writers report with glee that transit ridership is growing faster than driving. While it is true that urban driving has stagnated since the 2008 financial crisis, transit has a long, long, long way to go to catch up with driving. In 2012, transit carried about 1.8% of motor urban passenger miles, which is about what transit’s share of urban passenger miles has been, give or take, since 1993. Before then, it was 2.1% in 1990, 3.1% in 1980, and 4.7% in 1970. The roughly half a trillion dollars spent subsidizing transit since 1970 haven’t done much good. We gripe of subsidies to roads, those aren't subsidies, they're fees. If gas taxes are used to pay for roads, why not, why shouldnt gasoline consumers (namely drivers) pay for the surface needed to move about (as opposed to their taxes being shifted to finance rusting transit programs). Some roads are payed for using sales taxes and such, I oppose it, and argue user fees be used for roads, streets ,avenues, highways, bridges tunnels. Private sector will do a much better job. Meanwhile, while I don't believe in an infinite supply of oil in the world, but the peak-oil proponents were claiming that world oil production was about to peak and then head forever downwards just as China and India were consuming more, leading gasoline prices to inexorably rise to $20, $30, even $100 a gallon. This would force everyone out of their cars and onto mass transit, a prediction that was used to justify all sorts of otherwise ridiculous light-rail lines and land-use regulations. Now the US will overtake Saudi Arabia as an Oil producer. More important, all of the peak-oil calculations of oil production ignored tar sand oil and shale oil. When you include those kinds of oil, supplies appear plentiful for a century or more; adequate timeframe for alternative supplies of energy to take their place. Rather than force expensive energy down our throats, it'll gently introduce itself across the country. energy prices fluctuate mainly for political reasons, not because of actual physical limits on supply. It is quite likely that at some point oil will no longer be a major source of energy. But I doubt we will ever reach a point where people will stop driving personal vehicles, partly because their benefits are so great and partly because mass transit uses more energy riding empty all day to pick up scant passengers. Given implementation of Obama’s fuel economy standards; autos will be the greenest form of motorized travel.

  • BlueFairlane

    And you neglect to include the increased cost of lithium for batteries if we see large-scale growth in electric vehicles. There are already shortages of most metals you could reasonably use for a battery, and increased extraction of those metals will have to come from third-world locations that only mirror what you see with oil in places like Nigeria. Electric vehicles have their own limitations.

    Meanwhile, while three or four years ago I would have made the same argument about oil extraction as you, that game has changed very fast in ways I wouldn't have thought possible. Fracking has already increased the availability of natural gas to levels sustainable at current rates of consumption for decades, and it's only grazed the surface. And the US is seeing growth in domestic oil production we've not observed since the '70s. We've turned North Dakota into one big derrick, and I expect that to continue (despite all the very severe downsides) for a long time to come. I don't agree with your "one big accident" theory, as the several "one big accidents" like Valdez or the various Gulf spills never slowed our oil consumption before. I think we'll delay peak oil by at least a couple of decades. Mind you, I think that's a very bad thing, but it doesn't change what's happening.

  • Joe R.

    Why do you assume lithium will always be needed for EV batteries? We're already developing carbon-based supercapacitors which look promising enough to replace batteries within a few years. Once these are perfected, EVs will be cheaper to buy than gas cars. That one factor alone will get many (most?) people to adopt them.

    As for fracking/domestic shale oil, these won't last for a bunch of reasons. "Accident" might not have much effect if it's a remote area of Alaska, or even the Gulf of Mexico. It will have a big effect if people's drinking water is contaminated and cancer rates shoot up. It'll have an even bigger effect is someone's child comes home covered in toxic sludge. And then I'm sure eventually there will be a carbon tax of some sort. This will make fossil fuels less competitive.

    Another factor here is demand for fossil fuels in developed countries for transportation will decrease as suburbia dies. Suburbia is unsustainable economically, regardless of energy prices. We're already seeing municipalities which can't afford to maintain infrastructure despite high real estate tax levels. This trend will get worse as more people leave the suburbs, saddling those remaining with an ever higher tax burden. The lower demand for fossil fuels would tend to drive the price below what it might be worth for oil companies to extract it.

    Nobody has a crystal ball on when peak oil will be, but I think what needs to be done is to make the American public aware of and angry at of the culture of death oil companies are dealing in. The end game of extracting every last ounce of fossil fuels from the ground is a dying planet. That's why it has to stop. If enough people are angry at the oil companies it will stop and we will develop alternatives.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.
  • aggreen1

    ***I live smack dab in the middle of the Marcellus shale fracing region of northeast PA. Our air in PA is cleaner because of the shift from coal to natural gas to generate electricity, and the cost of natural gas home heating fuel (even propane) has hit rock bottom. Consumers have saved thousands of dollars. And now, the first natural gas fueling station for vehicles has been built with many more planned. Drill, baby, drill!!

  • aggreen1

    ***New evidence now suggests that the earth has been cooling for the past eight years. Arctic and Antarctic ice has increased over this period.

  • peseta

    Global Climate Change deniers just have to 1) prove the greenhouse effect wrong, or 2) show why it fails to work when people raise the CO2. Artic ice low? Tell the Russians, Norwegians, Canadians, and (ahem) American businesses that are taking advantage of ice-free conditions.

  • aggreen1

    From Forbes magazine, 5/31/2012:
    Sorry Global Warming Alarmists, The Earth Is Cooling

    Climate change itself is already in the process of definitively rebutting climate alarmists who think human use of fossil fuels is causing ultimately catastrophic global warming. That is because natural climate cycles have already turned from warming to cooling, global temperatures have already been declining for more than 10 years, and global temperatures will continue to decline for another two decades or more.

    That is one of the most interesting conclusions to come out of the seventh International Climate Change Conference sponsored by the Heartland Institute, held last week in Chicago. I attended, and served as one of the speakers, talking about The Economic Implications of High Cost Energy.

    The conference featured serious natural science, contrary to the self-interested political science you hear from government financed global warming alarmists seeking to justify widely expanded regulatory and taxation powers for government bodies, or government body wannabees, such as the United Nations. See for yourself, as the conference speeches are online.

    What you will see are calm, dispassionate presentations by serious, pedigreed scientists discussing and explaining reams of data. In sharp contrast to these climate realists, the climate alarmists have long admitted that they cannot defend their theory that humans are causing catastrophic global warming in public debate. With the conference presentations online, let’s see if the alarmists really do have any response.

    The Heartland Institute has effectively become the international headquarters of the climate realists, an analog to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has achieved that status through these international climate conferences, and the publication of its Climate Change Reconsidered volumes, produced in conjunction with the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

    Those Climate Change Reconsidered volumes are an equivalently thorough scientific rebuttal to the irregular Assessment Reports of the UN’s IPCC. You can ask any advocate of human caused catastrophic global warming what their response is to Climate Change Reconsidered. If they have none, they are not qualified to discuss the issue intelligently.

    Check out the 20th century temperature record, and you will find that its up and down pattern does not follow the industrial revolution’s upward march of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the supposed central culprit for man caused global warming (and has been much, much higher in the past). It follows instead the up and down pattern of naturally caused climate cycles.

    For example, temperatures dropped steadily from the late 1940s to the late 1970s. The popular press was even talking about a coming ice age. Ice ages have cyclically occurred roughly every 10,000 years, with a new one actually due around now.

    More: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/05/31/sorry-global-warming-alarmists-the-earth-is-cooling/

  • Hank Green

    That's really interesting, I'm looking at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Goddard
    Institute for Space Studies and their satellites seem to be saying
    things are getting much hotter. There are exceptions, as you can see in any complex system, but growing temperatures have been trending pretty clearly. You can find the data here:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

    The Heartland Institute is a Conservative/Libertarian think tank, who's website states, "The mission of The Heartland Institute is to discover, develop, and
    promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include...market-based approaches to environmental
    protection." I find it hard to understand why you would trust a free market advocacy group to do objective research on an issue that they have a vested interest in denying. It sounds like the conference you referenced was far from a bastion for free thought or intellectual curiosity: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8694544.stm

  • aggreen1

    ***Maybe it depends on who at NASA one consults. Consider:

    NASA Warns Earth May Be Entering a Period of “Global Cooling”

    By Washington’s Blog

    Global Research, January 13, 2013

    In-depth Report: Climate Change

    All climate scientists agree that the sun affects Earth’s climate to some extent. They only disagree about whether or not the effect form the sun is minor compared to man-made causes.

    We noted in 2011: This week, scientists from the US Solar Observatory and the US Air Force Research Laboratory have discovered – to their great surprise – that the sun’s activity is declining, and that we might experience the lowest solar output we’ve seen since 1645-1715. The Register describes it in dramatic tones:

    What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening.

    Scientists who are convinced that global warming is a serious threat to our planet say that such a reduced solar output would simply buy us more time … delaying the warming trend, but not stopping or reversing it.

    On the other hand, scientists who are skeptical about global warming say that the threat is a new mini ice age. (Remember that scientists have been convinced in the past that we would have a new ice age, and even considered pouring soot over the arctic in the 1970s to help melt the ice – in order to prevent another ice age. Obama’s top science advisor was one of those warning of a new ice age in the 1970s. And see this.)

    NASA reports this week that we may be on the verge of another Maunder Minimum (a period with an unusually low number of sunspots, leading to colder temperatures): Much has been made of the probable connection between the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year deficit of sunspots in the late 17th-early 18th century, and the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. The mechanism for that regional cooling could have been a drop in the sun’s EUV output; this is, however, speculative.

    More: http://chemtrailsplanet.net/2013/01/13/nasa-warns-earth-may-be-entering-a-period-of-global-cooling/

  • aggreen1

    ***I believe in a free market economy with minimal regulations...regulations which cvontribute greatly to the constraint in the economy and which promotes low growth and high unemployment (like America right now). Whenever a free market economy has been practiced, America has flourished.

  • Hank Green

    Do you have the original NASA article instead of some blog about it?

    The sun's cycles and the greenhouse gas that humans produce are unrelated systems.

    I'd love to know which free market years were so good? When did the USA not have corporate welfare?

  • Joe R.

    Let's say hypothetically that we're on the verge of entering another ice age. The reason would be because of decreased solar output, not because increased CO2 in the atmosphere due to human activity doesn't cause warming. In fact, because of the excess CO2 the ice age may not be as severe as it otherwise would have been. Honestly, I really do hope we're entering an extended period of lower solar output because if we're not, the future doesn't look pretty. Delaying the effects of global warming by a century might be a good thing. It'll buy us plenty of time to get off fossil fuels for good before solar output kicks up again. For purely selfish reasons I would prefer cooler over warmer weather (anything over about 60°F I consider "hot"). I'll gladly welcome a nice 10 or 15 degree drop in average summer temperatures.

  • http://twitter.com/PDXKtv Dan Kaufman

    So how can we get this video in front of the WA State Legislature before it's too late halt the CRC Mega Freeway Project?

  • aggreen1

    ***And I like it hot. Cold weather causes aches and pains, but that's what happens when you get old (I'm pushing 72). And, my hobby, vegetable gardening, flourishes with hot days and tepid nights.
    ***You know, at one time Greenland was a farming country, and has been many times over the millions of year. Ice free polar regions and ice age periods have happened many times...it's cyclical. The earth is still warming from the peak of the last ice age some 11,000 years ago. CO2 may be adding to the warming, but the jury is still out. We cannot stop the cycle, despite alarmist Al Gore!
    ***I'm not a green energy freak. There's something wrong with driving in my pickup to the Jersey shore with solar panels on the roof! 😉 I believe the Good Lord gave us fuel to use, but we could be wiser in its consumption.

  • Joe R.

    Oil is great stuff in that you can make plastics and other nice things with it. Our descendants will look back in disgust at how we just burned it instead when we had other energy sources. Even if oil supplies weren't finite, burning it releases toxins which increase cancer and asthma rates, not to mention the quality of life issues caused by smog. We should have switched en masse to electric vehicles years ago. We don't even necessarily need all that great of a battery. Just have the vehicle get its power via inductive pickup from buried cables in the road the way electric trains get their power on the fly from overhead wires or third rail.

  • Joe R.

    And you really believe everything you wrote? The problem with privatization is companies beholden to shareholders pick and choose the most profitable routes, while the routes which still need transit end up not being served at all. Unlike consumer goods like ipods, which are purely optional, transit is needed for society to function. That's why it receives government subsidies. Often the subsidies to transit result in generation of economic activity which results in tax revenues which are many multiples of that subsidy. When transit is too costly or inconvenient, the end result is trips which may generate economic activity may not be taken. For example, I might take the subway to Manhattan occasionally and spend money there. If instead I had to travel via three or four private systems (each serving only a profitable segment of the journey), paying a $5 fare for each of them, I probably wouldn't go to Manhattan at all.

    There are lots of reasons to get people out of personal vehicles even if we had unlimited energy. One big problem is space. Personal vehicles use more scarce urban space than any other mode. Second, thanks to congestion, personal vehicles are often slower than rail transit. Third, the vast majority of people are utterly incapable of safely driving. Maybe robocars will come to fix that, but you'll still have the other issues. Fourth, most personal vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines. The fumes from running large numbers of these engines in an urban environment results in huge external costs. Electric vehicles could solve this problem, but the oil companies fight them tooth and nail by spewing disinformation.

    The silver lining around the cloud is the fact that the younger generation has far less interest in driving than previous generations, and also far less money to spend on personal vehicles. While motor vehicles will always be needed, I'm seeing a time when they're mainly a toy for the rich to drive on empty rural roads. Once only a minority drives, it's easy to see large cities either banning private autos altogether, or at least forbidding anything except zero emissions vehicles.

    And autos can never be the greenest form of transport. Auto infrastructure requires a huge amount of energy to build, maintain, and police. Also, steel wheel on steel rail has about 1/10th the rolling resistance per ton of rubber tires. Trains are inherently more efficient, and a railroad is inherently less costly for the number of people it moves. One track can move the same number of people as 40 lanes of highway (assuming single occupancy vehicles spaced two seconds apart).

  • aggreen1

    “A Sensitive Matter” – Flat Temperatures Flummox Climate Scientists
    By Timothy H. Lee, Thursday, April 04 2013

    “Over the past 15 years, air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat, while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, ‘the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade. Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise.’”

    That’s the lead paragraph from The Economist last week in what amounts to a global warming mea culpa entitled “A Sensitive Matter.”

    The authors hastily add, “It does not mean global warming is a delusion.” But savor this subsequent paragraph as they scramble to make sense of the emerging evidence:

    “A rise in carbon concentrations from preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 560 ppm would thus warm the Earth by 1° C. If that were all there was to worry about, there would, as it were, be nothing to worry about. A 1° C rise could be shrugged off. But things are not that simple, for two reasons. One is that rising CO2 levels directly influence phenomena such as the amount of water vapour (also a greenhouse gas) and clouds that amplify or diminish the temperature rise. This affects equilibrium sensitivity directly, meaning doubling carbon concentrations would produce more than a 1° C rise in temperature. The second is that other things, such as adding soot and other aerosols to the atmosphere, add to or subtract from the effect of CO2.”

    Got that? So carbon could either “amplify or diminish” temperatures, and other things could either “add to or subtract from” carbon effects. Whichever.

    For its part, The Australian observed, “Debate about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from skeptical fringe to the mainstream.” It continued, “But the fact that global surface temperatures have not followed the expected global warming pattern is now widely accepted.”

    Even the Global Warming Policy Foundation acknowledges the emerging evidence. Its spokesman David Whitehouse lamented, “If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change.”

    So while Marxism took decades to collapse, in less than an adult lifetime we’ve gone from “An Inconvenient Truth” to “A Sensitive Matter.” Those of us who advised scientific sobriety before imposing costly and dubious social engineering have gone from being slurred as “Deniers” to being vindicated almost overnight. As acknowledged by The Economist in its story, “There is no point in buying earthquake insurance if you do not live in an earthquake zone.”

    Unfortunately, liberal political leaders at the federal, state and local levels remain slow to get the memo.

    During this year’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama scolded the nation that, “We can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it is too late.” And last week, just as The Economist released its analysis, his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a tough new round of auto fuel regulations. Refiners immediately estimated that compliance costs could increase our price at the pump nearly 10 cents per gallon, but that’s of no concern to the man who flies to San Francisco political fundraisers on the taxpayers’ dime. What matters is keeping his environmental activist supporters happy.

    California, meanwhile, faces the looming prospect of green-outs due to environmental regulations. Back in 2006, the year before Al Gore won the Nobel Prize for “An Inconvenient Truth,” California mandated that 20% of power provided by utilities derive from renewable sources by 2010. That mandate was ratcheted up to 33% by 2020, and sources like hydroelectric plants don’t qualify because they’re not as fashionable as solar and wind among environmentalists.

    Today, Californians already pay 25% to 60% higher electricity rates than the U.S. average, which is another reason that residents and employers continue to abandon the state. And now, rolling power outages loom because green energy sources are insufficient and producers are unable to upgrade existing plants or open new ones. An outage last year at the San Onofre nuclear plant left 1.4 million households powerless, which may prove just a sample of what’s coming.

    And all for naught, according to the coalescing scientific evidence. As admitted by The Economist in its analysis, “The world has pumped out half a trillion tonnes of carbon since 1750, and temperatures have risen by 0.8° C.”

    Accordingly, across America and even worldwide, people are recognizing that global warming alarmism brings all pain and no gain.

    http://cfif.org/v/index.php/commentary/44-energy-and-environment/1802-a-sensitive-matter-flat-temperatures-flummox-climate-scientists

  • Hank Green

    Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I was asking for us to discuss the original NASA
    article you referenced ( when you said "Maybe it depends on who at NASA one consults") instead of a poorly written blog post about it. You really need to go to first degree research
    when debating data, since that's where it's cleanest. Find the link and lets talk about it. Pulling out
    random opinions (like that high energy bills being responsible for a
    depopulation of California) is just parroting what other people say,
    which isn't helpful and generally not correct. Your obviously smart
    enough to do original, objective research into data scientists have
    collected, so lets look at the reports from NASA or NOAA and really see
    for ourselves what's going on. Maybe we'll both get smarter, which is the goal, right?

  • aggreen1

    ***I have no problem with letting other people do the research and just quoting the results of that research! :-)

  • Hank Green

    As John Philpot Curran once said, "The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." A slothful search for truth will ensure a great distance from it. If you choose to be lead around by the nose, then you add no value to discussions about facts or science.

  • aggreen1

    ***Great post, Hank, but this old guy has reached the point in life where intense research is for the younger at heart...and more mobile, too. But please, feel free to continue hurling insults. You are diminished by it.

  • Hank Green

    You mentioned your laziness; I merely pointed out that being lazy is a poor way to go through life.

    If you have a computer and time, you have the ability to check facts (that's why it's so important to fight for net neutrality on the Internet). There are no age limits to becoming smarter. If you have enough wits about you to drive, you should have the ability to research before you spew other people's opinions.

    Repeating dubious or untrue ideas to cause conflict is what trolls do. Many people on this forum are honestly working hard to find out truth and to use that truth to create a better world that we can all live in. Even though I know you wanted to start a conflict, I would have still be willing to work with you so both of us can be smarter. But you have been very clear about what you bring to the table. I would just request that you stop throwing stones at something others work together to create, since you're trolling is the real insult on this forum.

  • aggreen1

    ***Hank, go to hell!

  • Hank Green

    I used to have a lot of hate too, but at the end of the day it's not worth it. There is nothing wrong with bringing new arguments to the table, but be prepared to defend them with facts and be open to other options when your opinions don't hold water. Trolling could be fun in the moment, but collaboration is much more rewarding in the long term.

  • aggreen

    ***You are more interested in making fun of other people who disagree with you. You are not worth anyone's time. Global wdarming is a myth, Al Gore's movie has been thoroughly debunked... Deal with it, and goodby. Have the last word and crawl under a rock.

  • aggreen

    ***Yep. Capitalism at its finest! I am a shareholder. I invest in a company to make money so that I can, among other things, chose the mode of transportation I damn well plea. That's the American way. And I thank Founding Fathers for making it all possible! Liberty!

  • aggreen

    ***Many companies are rethinking work at home options. Didn't Yahoo just put an end to it?

  • Hank Green

    I'd be happy to discuss alternative ideas, but you need to bring facts to the table you can defend, not just parrot other people's rants. That helps no one and does not bring us closer to truth or a better world.

  • Joe R.

    The problem is capitalism doesn't offer always offer choice. It simply offers a choice among the options which businesses can make a profit on. Often there is a need for something, but that need can't be filled by private industry because it won't generate profits. Also, with private industry the technically best options don't always win out. In fact, they usually lose because they cost more to implement, and therefore generate less or no profit.

    Capitalism is fine for delivering widgets. It has little or no place for essential goods or services (i.e. housing, transportation, medicine, and food).

    For further proof that capitalism is a miserable failure at providing choice, just look at the "choice" most people have for transportation in much of the country. Basically, it's one choice-private automobile. If you can't afford one, or can't physically drive, you're screwed. Unfortunately, providing a comprehensive system of rail transit, which would be inherently less expensive compared to any alternative, requires a huge capital outlay which no private company would be willing to make. That's why governments need to get involved. Same thing with affordable housing. The free market has failed miserably at providing these options because nobody can make a profit delivering them. That doesn't mean there isn't a need for them which must be filled. We're essentially marginalizing a large portion of the population who might otherwise contribute to the economy if only they could travel to work and to buy goods.

    Remember at its extreme, pure capitalism eventually results in the wealthy few owning most of the means of productivity. That's not a good recipe for long term stability. Good, cheap transportation is the best form of democracy in that it allows anyone to go wherever they can be most productive.

  • Joe R.

    Yahoo made the most short-sighted decision possible here. Ironic that they're an IT company which helped liberate people from the need to physically be at their workplace while still remaining productive, and yet they're denying that same benefit to their own employees. Making people physically come to work to do jobs which can be done at home is wasteful on so many levels. The employee wastes an easy 10 hours a week commuting, if not more. And much of the traditional 8 hour work day isn't spent doing productive work. I read somewhere that most people are actually doing the job they're paid to do only about 10-15 hours out of 40. That being the case, let them do the job at home. They'll spend 2 or 3 hours a day working instead of 9 or 10 working plus commuting. You'll have happier, better rested, more productive employees. It's no secret that routines like running to the office each day stifle creativity. Managers need to get over their insecurities. If someone isn't doing the job you're paying them to do at home, it'll be obvious soon enough. In fact, telecommuting is a great way to weed out the dead wood in an organization. Those who used to delegate their duties to their fellow employees will no longer be able to do so. When it's obvious they can't produce on their own, they'll be replaced with better employees. Companies will also save substantially on office space if the bulk of their employees work at home.

    I'll bet good money the amount of innovation coming out of Yahoo will decline with the new policy. They're replacing people thinking outside the box at home with people brainstorming on committees. We all know how well that works. Few on committees will risk airing a truly innovative but risky idea. Mostly it'll be play it safe, and keep doing what worked in the past. At least until it doesn't work any more.

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Direct linkage to referenced facts:

    League of American Bicyclists

    http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/

    Green Lane Project

    http://greenlaneproject.org/

    Green Lane Project’s working list of U.S. cities with green
    lanes current and planned

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq-SAP-8fp4wdF9MdXByY2xUYjdEZWIyaGQ2NV9LUHc#gid=0

    Bikes Belong: Economic benefits of the bicycling industry
    and tourism

    http://www.bikesbelong.org/resources/stats-and-research/statistics/economic-statistics/

  • http://www.streetfilms.org Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Direct linkage to facts:

    Transportation and the New Generation, Benjamin Davis and
    Tony Dutzik, Frontier Group Phineas Baxandall,U.S. PIRG Education Fund, April
    2012.

    http://uspirg.org/reports/usp/transportation-and-new-generation

    The Great Decline Of
    American Driving, Douglass Short, Business Insider, November 2012

    http://www.businessinsider.com/population-adjusted-vehicle-miles-2012-11

    How the Travel Patterns of Older Adults Are Changing:
    Highlights from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey, Jana Lynott and
    Carlos Figueiredo, AARP Public Policy Institute, April 2011.

    http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/liv-com/fs218-transportation.pdf

    The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States, Laura
    B. Shrestha and

    Elayne J. Heisler, Congressional Research Service, March
    2011.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32701.pdf

  • Gabrielle

    Actually, I like to think that those roads (city and highway) will not be empty in 20 or 30 years, but rather that they will provide an exceptional cross-country network for pedal and electric powered vehicles. And all without the budget-draining, near constant need for repair required now to alleviate the damage from cars and trucks. =)

  • Gabrielle

    Oops. I meant that for EXISTING roads. We sure do not need any more.