A World Without Cars
James Q. Wilson the author of the article "Cars and Their Enemies" briefly ponders the possibility of our world without personal automobiles. He speculates whether our current society would welcome the invention of the personal automobile into a fictitious world without cars. Wilson immediately answers no. Wilson knows, as many well-informed individuals and experts do, that the personal automobile is responsible for contributing to pollution, destruction of rural and wilderness land, and depletion of natural resources. And an advanced society such as we live in today would not likely choose to burden our health, land, and resources for the sake of luxury and convenience, or at the very least, the personal automobile would not be as accessible as it is today. Because, in all reality, our current society does embrace inventions that compromise our society's well-being such as oil and chemical refineries, pesticides, and even convenience foods such as fast food and many refined prepackaged foods. Wilson's opinions in his article, "Cars and Their Enemies" and discussions I have had on-line in the 305 class about Wilson's article have demonstrated to me that the personal automobile is an example of how many people are unwilling to acknowledge how personal convenience and luxury contribute to the deterioration of our world.
Wilson's encouragement to the readers of his article to imagine life as we currently know it without the automobile begins with Wilson outlining exactly why the personal automobile is destructible in so many ways. He points out that academic and social critics believe that cars "burn fuel inefficiently" (304) ejecting "large amounts of unpleasant gases into the air" (304); "vast quantities of petroleum [are] necessary to fuel automobiles" (304); and cars have caused much of the outward expansion movement that has destroyed rural and wilderness areas throughout the country. Wilson continues to state that "Non-car methods [of transportation] generate less pollution, use energy a bit more effectively, produce less noise, and (with some exceptions) are safer" (308). Wilson continues saying that most people would not support the idea of a personal automobile. Public-health specialists would point out the certain occurrences of fatal accidents; environmentalists would point out the ineffectiveness of a combustion engine that burns fuel inefficiently consequently polluting the air; government officials would worry about who would pay for roads; and energy experts would point to enormous amounts of petroleum needed to fuel automobiles. Wilson states that if the idea of the car were introduced as a new concept today it would not be supported, and the personal automobile would not exist. But, as Wilson states, the automobile does exist, and many arguments persist blaming the personal automobile for many problems related to the depletion of natural resources, pollution, and outward expansion.