Tim1096 writes "The impact they have on society was that they delivere things faster, they shelter us from nature when we need to go to places, and they let us get to places we want quickly."
These things are true, but it disregards a whole side of the issue. Cars are convenient, but the have a large cost to society as a whole.
The majority of cities and counties spend more money on road infrastructure than they receive from gasoline taxes, vehicle registration fees, or other direct taxes on drivers. This means that money for road construction, improvements and maintenance must come from elsewhere in the budget like libraries, schools, parks, and other community programs. This is especially true for low-density suburban development where there are fewer taxpayers per road-mile.
As you may know, the biggest oil fields are in countries that are not entirely stable. We, the United States, has spent untold billions in keeping governments in power that are friendly to our oil interests (Even Alan Greenspan admits the Iraq war was for oil). And don't even start about Alaska and deep-ocean. That oil would take at least 10 years to start flowing, and would still account for a tiny fraction of total consumption (I think ANWR can provide a little less than 3% of our daily consumption)
Okay, I'll admit this one is more subjective. It is my personal view and I cannot back it up with research, but I believe that cars remove from society a very important forum for interaction, the sidewalk. In cities where more people walk than drive, the sidewalks become a place where you might actually stop to help someone or say hi to a friend. Imagine if we behaved on the sidewalk how we behave in our cars. Most people would be walking around with headphones on, not looking at other people, and would curse and flip-off anyone that stepped in front of them (okay so maybe New York sidewalks are already like this, but its not the same everywhere)....
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