The automobile is the single best and worst thing to happen to humanity. The amount of personal freedom and ability to transport people and goods across great distances quickly is amazing. The amount of energy used to build and operate automobiles, and other vehicles, is unbelievable. The pollution created from them is also staggering. Can we be more efficient? Can we change our lifestyle? Can we walk anywhere?
North America has a particular problem. Geography almost requires this type of transportation. However, different planning can change the needs in urban areas. Reducing the "want" factor will also go a long way in minimizing the resources used. Environmental concerns seem to be taking over all areas of our lives but when it comes to car purchases fuel efficiency and environmental protection are still not the primary reason for a purchase. I guess part of the question is what demand is generated by the consumer and what is created. Do we all want to live in the suburbs with 2 SUVs in the driveway that we drive every chance we get? Can we live without Caesar salad in January? Personal choices will need to be made to generate change. Business and industry will come around because they will be forced to find efficiency in resource consumption to cut costs and grow profits. Waste used to be cheap. Now it is expensive and creates bad PR. Nobody can afford that.