This post is a side-effect of reading about the new US auto requirements; by 2016, light trucks will be required to produce 2 MPG better performance than they do now.
It's important to remember that there's a "everybody dies" level of atmospheric CO2, and that we're about a third of the way there. The right thing to do is not to improve, marginally—about 4%!—the mileage requirements for SUVs.
The right thing to do, well, this is the "any idiot" part. Transportation and energy policy needs to produce results such that:
- Fossil carbon extraction stops, completely and globally
- Atmospheric carbon is sequestered so that the total atmospheric carbon load drops to not more than one quarter of the way to the pessimistic value for the "everybody dies" level.
- Extant species diversity and disparity increases, by actual measurement, everywhere. (Because "ecological collapse" and "reduced carrying capacity" don't mean "famine"; a famine ends, it's not a permanent loss of food availability)
- The real cost of food does not increase and the median and mean quality of available food increases
- cities work ( = support active import replacement while being pleasant places to live)
- employment such that one can live and accumulated capital is the norm
- the century-plus of climate fluctuations we're in for don't readily crash the infrastructure; it needs to be redundant and robust
The idea that trivial improvements to a fossil carbon consuming transportation infrastructure's efficiency are significant strongly suggests that what we're dealing with in terms of policy formulation isn't even an idiot.