Banning of Automobiles in the United States
Imagine what would happen if, starting tomorrow, all cars were banned in the United States
The society has several factors that affect the way it operates and also shapes the way of living. Over the last decades, there have been tremendous changes in the society following the advances in technology. The social changes experienced in the world did not happen overnight. Instead, there have been progressive transformations in the course of human history as a result of forces set into motion many years ago. As technology changes, the societies also change regarding domestication, agriculture, industrialization, and information. However, not all the societal changes are good since globalization and capitalism have resulted in many environmental problems. Among them are global warming, acidic rain, and an increase of toxic wastes. There is a lack of control on pollution and also experience in dealing with the environmental issues that arise. The term paper focuses on a discussion of the expected changes if cars were banned in the United States.
The elimination of the automobiles would have significant impacts to the social, cultural, and economic arrangements in the American society. Automobiles have become an important resource in the society as a means of transport, and also a source of livelihood for many Americans. The imagining of America being car-free seems to be a dream due to the overdependence on them as a vital part of everyday life. The invention of cars in the 20th Century was a major step for the people in the United States. To some extent, the impact to the United States has advantages like fuel saving, reducing traffic, having a greener and a cleaner environment, and resulting in a healthy society (McShane, 2014). However, there are also negative impacts to the economy as discussed.
For the social and cultural impact, there would be an alteration of labor specialization and the mass production of goods and farm produce would be affected. The American society would gradually result in subsistence farming, and people would interact at a basic level thereby reducing the cultural interactions. Americans are fond of traveling to different places resulting in intermarriages and exchange of cultural practices, which would be affected. Cars are also used in sporting activities as a form of entertainment, which would become obsolete upon banning of the automobiles. Americans view cars as a symbol of the material culture and associate it with art and culture. They portray an individual’s status with some cars as a privilege that only the wealthy can afford. Thus, banning of the automobiles would mean a loss of important social status symbol that Americans use to portray their personality and status (Black & Nijkamp, 2002).
The elimination of automobiles would also have significant impacts on the American economic status. The economic growth of America has been contributed largely to the growth of the road networks and the related infrastructure. The American good road network makes the transportation of people and goods easy and efficient. Thus, the banning of cars would result in economic loss for the American society. The automobile industry is a major contributor to the government revenues due to its International trade networks. It also provides employment to millions of American people who would become jobless. The ban would also impact the economies of other nations across the world that imports cars from America.
If the ban is imposed, Americans would have to make adjustments to function effectively in an automobile-free society. It would not be easy to adapt to the changes since many Americans are fond of using cars in their day-to-day activities. The changes would enhance functionality due to the attempts of bridging the gap in the economic, cultural, and social changes after the ban. Americans are likely to adopt subsistence farming due to the lack of supply to the market and other outlets. Another adjustment would be moving by foot and using the eco-friendly means of transport like cycling. The adjustments require individual efforts towards adopting a different culture and status.
I think that forcing Americans to make the adjustments would be a challenging experience. The American society is fond of using cars, and any attempt to change the culture would be futile. There is increased over-reliance on the automobiles for economic growth and transport and the shift to a car-free society is unimaginable. The changes in the society are a result of industrialization, urbanization, and the significant improvements in infrastructure (Todd, 2002). Thus, Americans have benefited from the fast moving economy over the last decades, and would not be willing to retrogress. Some people were born and grew up in families where everybody owns a car. Thus, it would not be easy to force them to adopt a different lifestyle. It is likely that the society and the industries would not function normally due to the over-reliance on the automobile technology.
At a personal level, I think that the over-dependence on cars should be changed and people ought to adopt a different lifestyle. There is a great comfort that comes with the use of automobiles, but there are other health benefits to an individual by changing the lifestyle. I grew up in a society where automobiles were a necessity and thus, making the adjustment to living without cars would be a sacrifice. I would have to visit only the nearby places and avoid the picnic sites I enjoy visiting. I would have to do away with the comfort of traveling by car every day and adopt using a bicycle which is tiresome. I would also have to shift from where I live and move to a nearby place near the school and the workplace to avoid straining as I walk to study. I realize that using cars is unhealthy for me because I do not have time for physical exercises. Thus, I will have to change to daily physical exercise as I walk or cycle to class or the workplace. My movement will be limited to only the nearby regions, and thus, it would be challenging to interact with people from other regions. As a matter of fact, I will have to give up on some activities and concentrate on the things that matter most in life.
If I had to make the adjustments, I would be willing to adopt the changes due to the associated benefits. Living things usually adapt to changes in their natural habitat and humans are no exceptional. A ban on the use of automobiles would be challenging in the beginning, but people would soon benefit from it. I would make the adjustments since I understand that every hour spent in the car increases the likelihood of developing obesity. Thus, I would choose a healthy life over the comfort associated with the use of cars. I would be happy to adopt the changes for personal benefits. However, the changes come along with significant impacts on the societal practices and also to the economy. The ban on automobiles would require an alternative means to address the challenges encountered especially by the large firms in transporting their goods to the consumers.
The American society would largely be affected by the banning of cars. However, the ban has several advantages as well. First, there would be a significant drop in the road accidents and road burglary associated with the use of automobiles. Accidents cause death and injury and many victims of the road accidents do not fully recover from the psychological trauma they experience. The ban on automobiles would eliminate the heavy traffic jams experienced in major Cities since people would use alternative means of transport. Most of the automobiles on the roads use petrol and diesel for propulsion. They emit greenhouse gasses to the environment occupied by humans and other living creatures. The emissions from the cars contribute to environmental pollution as well as degradation (Hao, Hu & Fu, 2006). Thus, the ban would help to freshen up the air for healthier living. The American society would adopt healthy lifestyles due to physical exercises and eliminate the increased prevalence of chronic diseases (Waldorf, 2003). The ban would also save on the available deposits of crude oil as preservation to the natural resource. The benefits associated with banning cars cannot be underestimated.
In light of the advantages associated with the ban on automobiles, it is important to address the negative impacts on the society. It is surprising to realize that the American society would be worse off by implementing the ban on all the automobiles. The growth of the economy depends on the development of the transport network and infrastructure where automobiles operate. The economy would slow down and thereby decrease the productivity of the American people. The provision of health care services would be challenging due to the transport hindrances of the medical supplies.
Also, the ban on the automobiles would have a negative impact on the education sector since many of the institutions of higher learning are not in the local regions. The instructors and teachers would have a challenge of accessing their workplaces thereby lagging the education sector behind. The supply of the essential commodities to the institutions of learning would be hindered by the ban on the automobiles. There would be significant social and cultural changes in the American society since the benefits associated with intermarriages and social gatherings would be altered. The long distance friendships and family ties would be broken since people will not be willing to travel to far places on foot or by bicycle. Unemployment would creep in especially to people who work in the transport sector and the automobile industry.
As identified, the ban on automobiles in the United States can only be theoretical because the reality associated with it is not welcome to many citizens. The effects of the social, cultural, and economic aspects are tremendous and require a better approach to addressing them. The economy largely depends on the automobiles for transport of goods from one place to another. Thus, the ban would slow down its growth. On the other hand, the ban on automobiles would affect the American culture of interacting and visiting places that would be limited. The reality of the ban on automobiles would drastically affect the fast moving economy of United States that makes it the superpower continent. Regarding health benefits and environmental pollution control, the ban on automobiles would be beneficial. However, it is important to address all the associated impacts of banning automobiles and settle on a solution that minimizes the negative impacts on the society and the economy.
Black W.R & Nijkamp P. (2002) Social Change and Sustainable Transport; Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253340675, 9780253340672
Hao, J., Hu, J., & Fu, L. (2006) Controlling vehicular emissions in Beijing during the last decade: Transportation Research Part A: Policy & Practice, 40(8), 639-651. doi:10.1016/j.tra.2005.11.005
McShane, C. (2014). The Automobile: A Chronology of Its Antecedents, Development, and Impact. Routledge
Todd, L., (2002), Automobile Dependency and Economic Development: Victoria Transport Institute Policy, Retrieved from http://www.vtpi.org/ecodev.pdf
Waldorf, B. (2003). Automobile reliance among the elderly: race and spatial context effects. Growth and Change, 34(2), 175-201.