The above-linked Reuters article provides solid evidence of declining per capita consumption of autos in the U.S., and cites various factors behind the decline, all of which can be linked to rising population density.
The United States scrapped 14 million autos while buying only 10 million last year, shrinking the country’s car and light duty truck fleet to 246 million from a record high of 250 million, according to the report to be released on Wednesday by nonprofit group the Earth Policy Institute (EPI).
And this occurred at the same time that the population grew by three million people, or one percent. This is a decline in per capita consumption of nearly 3 percent in one year. Why?
Cities are taking a variety of steps, like adding rapid bus lanes and light duty rail, to fight traffic congestion and air pollution. Some are raising parking meter prices and cutting down the required parking spaces per building, the report said.
… Market saturation of autos, urbanization, high oil prices that reached a record $147 a barrel in 2008, and the uncertain economy have helped cut car sales, Brown said. Given those forces, sales may never reach the 17 million per year level they were between 1999 and 2007, he said.
Because more people live in cities than a few decades ago, young people, particularly those burdened with student loans, are foregoing car purchases, the report said.
These are all factors that are a direct consequence of a rising population density. The article goes on to note the silver lining:
A continued drop in auto purchases could cut long-term oil demand and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. he said. It could also lead to increases in steel supplies as big cars get recycled, Brown said.
But Brown missed the huge dark side of all of this: per capita employment in the auto industry is declining. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was picking up in some other industry at an equal rate, but it isn’t. This is just one example of how a rising population density in the U.S. is driving down per capita consumption and, thus, per capita employment right along with it.
Misguided environmentalists will counter that this is a good trend, necessary to stem global warming and resource depletion. Wrong. The environment doesn’t give a damn about per capita consumption. Rather, it’s total consumption that’s the problem. The only way to reduce total consumption while maintaining high levels of employment is through a reduction in our population, back to a level where over-crowding doesn’t cramp our standard of living, a level that will also be sustainable in terms of our demand for resources and our impact on the environment.