Do we fear the rise of the poor?

America, Europe and Japan have been working their butts off trying to get a high mileage car on the roads, and the only way they’ve done it is with magnificent technology that costs far more than traditional cars. India did it for $2,000. We should be ashamed.

That’s how my inner engineer responds to the $2,000, 56 mpg (US)* Tata Nano. EcoGeek also suggests other ways of responding, and they all have some validity:

  • “I’m having nightmares” – the chief scientist of the IPCC.
  • The lack of good mass transit around the world is a disgrace and private vehicles are never going to be a solution for urban areas.
  • The developed world can’t hold back the developing world in ways they were never held back. The criticisms made sometimes look like fear of what will happen when swarms of poor people want to live like us. While suggestions of good transit and cycling options are spot on, I personally don’t feel I have any right to bemoan relatively poor people getting better transportation.

Also see a Bangalore resident’s intelligent responses to some of the criticisms, at People are missing the point (a comment on the EcoGeek post).

There are many ways of reducing our impact on the climate, starting with energy efficiency in our houses as well as our own transport choices. Denying transport options to the poor is not only unjust – it has little prospect of working.

*56mpg (US), 67 mpg (imperial), 4.2 L/100 km, average. Your mileage may vary – and it won’t use any fuel if you leave it at home and walk/cycle/bus.

Photo credit: ~FreeBirD®~ (CC-BY-NC-ND). Chosen because: Who the hell can tell these people they shouldn’t have a car to carry their children more safely?

2 thoughts on “Do we fear the rise of the poor?”

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the developed world holding back the developing world. I think we need to be following their lead more often. The technologies they are developing are generally more efficient because they do not have access to the cheap resources the developing world had when it designed it’s infastructure. But that would require North Americans to start living like Africans and Indonesians, and that’s a pretty abhorent prospect for most of our neighbors.

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