// The car: liberating? Or ball and chain?//

A followup on fossil fuel dependence and climate change / national security — a organization called EnergyTrap has been surveying people and collecting data about Americans’ income with relation to the amount that they have to spend on gas. The first infographic I found on the site was pretty telling, see below. It compares the price paid per household, per state for gasoline in 2010 compared to 2011, using deepening red tints to show rising costs.

2010:

2011:

This article starts with a short video of a guy that “works in security” who spends more than 50% of his income on transporting himself to and from his job. He adds up his travel expenditures (gas, car payment, insurance, tolls) on a whiteboard, while smiling. That short post ends with a comment about Americans and their obsession with driving, debunking the myth that Americans love to drive, claiming instead that it is a simple necessity because there are no alternatives.

It is true that there are few alternatives to personal transportation in this country. But it is interesting to note that the American way set an ideal for the globe, and many nations have followed the US development model, building huge highways through cities and suburbs connecting to them.

Regardless of what infrastructure is already in place, Americans are also marketed an unattainable ideal. I haven’t actually surveyed this, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to watch TV without seeing a car ad. It’s definitely impossible to watch sports without seeing 5 car ads. Another infographic from Energytrap.org below shows gas spending as a % of income.

I venture to guess that lots of the people in the lower income range who pay lots for gas are in the same boat. They purchased vehicles when gas prices were lower, and now cannot sell their vehicles for more efficient ones because they will end up losing essential income. Nor can they choose another transportation option, because alternatives are rare.

I don’t mean to say that this data is 100% dependable or that these scenarios hold true for all Americans, but I think it provides a decent snapshot into a growing problem that will only worsen as time passes.