Agent

Not your usual anti-car diatribe

Why historians will look back in awe at our oil obsession

The U.S. Department of Transportation tells us that, as of 2004, there were more than 243 million passenger vehicles registered in the United States. That's very nearly one car for every man, woman and child in the nation. In fact, it's some 13 million more cars than there are licensed drivers to drive them. Thanks to such mind-numbing figures, historians will someday regard the 20th century -- though hopefully not much of the 21st -- as an absurdly auto-infatuated era. After all, ours is a time in which cars are at the very core of American identity. They're central to our coming of age and integral to our self-image and social status -- not to mention being all but mandatory to get around in the asphalt-paved, commute-saddled world we've created for ourselves. Still, future historians may have quite a bit of trouble understanding the supposed romance of a machine whose thirst for petroleum led us to befoul our own skies and oceans, and made us tailor our foreign policy in ...

Comments