Cars have a unique place in American culture. But at some point we have to face the reality: cars are bad for us. | Monterey County NOW Introduction


Sara Rubin here, preparing for the final day of today’s mega-traffic related to Car Week. In fact, it hasn’t been that bad for me this year – I mostly avoided the big events thanks to a nifty (and improved) map provided by the county with live traffic, and thanks to the biking when possible, sometimes going through what looks like zippy cars that are basically stuck in the park.

Traffic is one of those impacts that comes from living in a place that depends on tourism, and that means locals are adapting – it’s push and pull, accepting crowds and traffic and finding off-peak times to enjoy our favorite spots.

But some impacts cannot be avoided, and one of them is the environmental impact of Car Week. Traffic isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a sea of ​​vintage cars, many of which are exempt from California’s smog regulations, spewing not only carbon dioxide causing a climate crisis, but other harmful gases. .

Cars prior to 1976 are exempt from strict California smog testing standards, thanks to a 2004 law. This law marked an improvement over a previous 30-year continuous exemption for older cars, even though 1976 model year cars emit an average of 155 times more oil per mile. than new vehicles, based on state legislative analysis.

(The improvement comes from marking a line in the sand: In 2010, the Legislative Assembly estimated that pre-1982 cars – those that would have been exempt from smog checks under the previous law – would have accounted for 22% of hydrocarbon emissions and 11% of NOx emissions, although they represent only 2.6% of the total vehicles. in the state, and only 1.3 percent of the kilometers driven by vehicles.)

Yes, some Car Week events celebrate and showcase new technologies like electric vehicles. But the fact remains that our American obsession with cars is terrible news for the environment (and, by extension, for all of us). According to the US EPA, emissions from transportation account for about 29 percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor to US GHG emissions. Over the past 20 years, emissions from the transport sector have increased more than in any other sector. (Overall, thanks to the Clean Air Act and other regulations, our air quality has improved and continues to improve.)

As far as I know there is no festival devoted to old factories in which we can gather and watch the chimneys spew out what has long been forbidden. Cars hold a unique place in American culture, but at some point we have to face the reality: Cars are bad for us. I would love to attend car week day after car and cycle or take public transport to get there, if only our systems were good enough. Today, I can’t even cycle to the Concours of Elegance — Pebble Beach, normally open (free) to pedestrians and cyclists under an agreement with the California Coastal Commission, closes that access during this centered weekend. on the car.

Our fascination with cars may one day become a collector’s item, but for now, it remains a celebration for visitors from all over the world and an economic pillar of the peninsula’s tourist economy. You can read about it in this week’s issue of Weekly, with a story by David Schmalz about the traders who rely on Car Week customers. You can also read about the auctions (and the biggest event by car for Mecum) in an article by Dave Faries; the lingering fascination with the Camaros of Pam Marino; meet a photographer who does Car Week art in a Celia Jiménez Q&A; and dive into automotive terminology with a guide from Marielle Argueza.

It’s a major boost to the economy and it’s a heartfelt celebration of automobiles which, I agree, are amazing. But I’m still looking forward to a post-car world and hope to be here to see it.

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