Our addiction to the internal combustion engine comes at a hefty price. Each year, American car owners shell out an average of $1,600 for auto fuel costs alone. This past year, most of us felt the pinch at the pump even more, with gasoline prices climbing an average of 208 percent above 2005 prices.
Besides taking a bite out of our budgets, gasoline cars have a mean streak when it comes to our environment and health. Scooting around town and across the country in our cars is one of the most environmentally damaging practices we do as individuals. Driving gas- and diesel-engine vehicles adds to local smog, which contributes to respiratory diseases among city dwellers, and creates a large portion of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. In 2004, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, Americans’ personal vehicles spewed out more than 300 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.