... has come a loooong way since we first slid down hills on pieces of bark or rode other animals.But it's still a vexatious question. Because right now we have probably the most horrendous world-destroying form of transportation this planet has ever seen. (Other than any possible nuclear-waste-spewing spacecraft that might have been used by some exceedingly horrid aliens that may have lived here in a time before the fossil record - if you believe in that kind of thing. And who knows - it may even have been true...)
Fossil fueled Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (ICE) have undisputably ceated some of the worst damage the planet has seen. CO2 levels are higher than at any time since life as we know it evolved on the planet, temperatures are fast heading past that same unenviable milestone, and my RAV4 is one of the contributing ICEs that's responsible. (In my defense I'm on a disability pension and my wife and I both need a vehicle to get around almost everywhere, and our Beloved Governbment is so anti-EV that they'd rather kill half the population than abandon fossil fuels let alone make some incentive arrangement or suibsidy to make the changeover easy for any but the richest people.)
And the fact is that there ARE inexpensive alternatives - many Asian countries manufacture very inexpensive electric vehicles that are ideally suited to 90% of the car driving population, but the Beloved Government are performing the most fantastic contortions to prevent these vehicles from entering the country, being available at attainable prices, or legislated for and certified. And Australia isn't the only one. Many countries' governments have a fortune to lose if they divest of fossil fuels and their local automotive industries. So barriers keep getting thrown in the way, and we sit here choking to death on ICE fumes because stop! - you are not ALLOWED to buy this!
Personally I find this a very short-sighted attitude because once climate change and air pollution kills off huge swathes of the popuylation, there won't be any customers left to buy the fuel and cars that generate the huge tariffs that the Beloved Governments probably believe will nbever stop flowing like swill into their troughs. But what can we do? Well, LOBBY LOBBY LOBBY is a good start - write emails to every member of your BG that you can and explain how you won't vote for any politician that doesn't support a VERY FAST changeover to EVs and renewable energy, and after a certain number of such emails the facts DO penetrate those greed-squinted gazes and thoughts. (I'm sorry - you find my language to be offensive? You prefer to be treated like a mushroom by your BG instead, kept in the dark and fed BS? I prefer activism and to leave a liveable world to my nieces, nephews, and grandneps. They're good kids and deserve every advantage I can prepare for them now.)
A propos of that, I'm a firm believer in the idea that if my grandneps ever time travelled back to here, they'd want to thank me for what I did, not kill me to stop my ripples running along the timeline and wrecking their world...
So there are a few broad-brush-stroke solutions - such as car lease pools. Do we really need a huge SUV/minivan/peoplemover for around town when we really only need that big of a vehicle for that one holiday and maybe two additional fishing / camping trips a year? And maybe for the one time we want to pick up that new office chair that the furniture company is still too cheap/retro to have included delivery for?
A practical but wasteful approach is to own a small "shopping cart" EV for in-town trips and "autonomous-driving ride hail" for longer trips or larger cargo and "monthly lease" for taking holidays in a Rivian or whatever. Wasteful because, let's face it, my personal vehicle spends about 90% of its time parked, and for the average suburbanite, that number goes up to an average of 95%. All I keep in it is a fishing rod (that I don't really need to carry aorund as I've had exactly two occasions to use it in almost ten years) and some reusable shopping bags and my glasses. I could carry that in a backpack and just hail an empty vehicle to my door in under five minutes.
Therefore a much less wasteful approach might even be to just have no personally-owned vehicles and a floating pool of EVs and hire whatever kind of vehicle you need for whatever length of time/mileage you need it for. AI logistic routing is already at the point where a pool of EVs can go to a local charging / sanitising park, then park in logically distributed substations until hailed, then return to the park and repeat the process. (Excluding vehicles modified for people with specific physical challenges - and even then, having a few wheelchair-ramp capable autonomous driving vehicles in the pools would accommodate such needs.)
Our driveway would suddenly become a new space available for - anything, really. Small shopping trips in fair(ish) weather could be undertaken on my wife's mobility scooter, bigger/longer trips by hailing a rental or a passing bus.
Speaking of buses - there are by now several dozen designs for small self-driving vehicles that just consist of four wheels and six to twelve seats and these could be hailed as they pass and deliver a small number of passengers to their destinations quickly. Smaller vehicles could run deliveries to the door - shop online or down the street, and when you get home, your shopping arrives when you do... Please note that Tesla and Google Maps already have all such infrastructure in place to route vehicles, warehouse logistics companies already have the software to make those routes time efficient and economical, it's not like there is anything new involved here.
All that has to happen is for us to stop clinging to the idea that we need several (expensive!) tons of pollution and scrace resources sitting around waiting on the 5% of the day that we have need of it. Obligatory revelation: I have to admit that I've been a pretty rusted-on (see what I did there? hehehe) Auto-Australian from an early age. But times and circumstances were different then, and distances for me were measured of in terms of hundreds of kilometres rather than just a dozen or so, and I feel much more secure knowing that the old gas guzzler is sitting there if I need it. But I can also see that there's got to come a time when these things change and I'm now actively doing my lobbying to ensure that it happens soon.
And of course there will always be a need for some people to have a dedicated vehicle outside the door, such as farmers, outdoor workers, and so forth. And I don't for one moment want those people to lose access to whichever form of transport is required. I'd say the same for bulk / long-haul transport but the fact is that there've by now been multiple long distance - driverless - runs by electric trucks and they occur faster and more efficiently than people-piloted trucks. We've seen that rockets can autonomously lift off, deliver a payload, and land to be recovered and re-used for another trip. How long before electric cargo aircraft and ships become commonplace and deliveries from anywhere in the world can be made in a day?
How To Get There
!!! >-->!!! L_O_B_B_Y_I_N_G !!!<--< !!!
Right now, these ideas are still too radical for almost all of our BGs but in a few years it'll be a case of "why wasn't this done much much earlier?" as these new paradigms take effect. The saying that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago and the second-best time is NOW - holds true in this case as well. If we'd started thinking along these lines twenty years ago we'd now be almost off the hook for climate change and so forth, as it is, every year has cost progressively more recovery time, tothe point where by now this has added up to thousands ofd years now before a recovery, and even then, many things are already gone forever and can't be recovered.
So now is the best time to insist on rebates and subsidies for EVs, easing of restrictions on cheap imports, and incentives for importers and exporters of such technology.
Now is the best time to insist that we finance more research, more development of renewable energy and EV infrastructure, research into recycling and re-use and recovery and sustainable food and housing.
!!! >-->!!! N_O_W!!!<--< !!!
Yeah, I know. I'm all good at calls to action. But I'm also working towards recycling plastics (for now - I want us to recycle everything! in the very near future) and putting out as many new ideas as possible. The more you share this, send emails, cast well-considered votes, and spend less on eco-destroying things and more on sustainable / renewable / clean things, the sooner and bigger the paradigm shift will be.