The United States hit peak oil production in 1970. Depending on your sources, we may have already passed global peak production or we may not reach the downslope in for a few more years. Still, even if the amount of fuel being pumped out of the Earth has crested, surely all those new four-wheel vehicles being added in Asia alone is enough to guarantee that global use of cars is still on the rise.

Except that may not be true. A study of developed nations, including the United States, already showed that no matter how car crazy we may be, we're putting in fewer miles behind the wheel than we once did.

Now, two Australian researchers are indicating that the world may have already reached peak car use. Citing decreased use of automobiles in cities, changing cultural trends, the slowing of urban sprawl, and gains by public transportation, the researchers conclude that the car has passed its heyday. This has many consequences. Economists who weight car sales highly in determining the health of economies, for example, may be putting undue measure on a declining indicator, and politicians used to delivering for their districts in the form of new highway miles may have to find another means of bringing home the pork.

Future city planning and development may take place against a background where access by automobile becomes an increasingly minor consideration.

[Source: Treehugger | Image: Jim Champion - C.C. License 2.0]

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