Carmageddon: Hidden War Between Motor Cars and People



There is a silent, ongoing, global war between motor cars and people. It is silence because, though it kills many times more people than armed conflicts and terrorist acts combined. It seldom hits the headlines in the way they do. It is ongoing because it rages and will continue to rage around us day and night. And it is global because, though it started in the rich world just over a century ago, it has spread throughout the world and is now spreading like wildfire through poor countries.

I have called this was Carmageddon, from the Biblical word Armageddon, a dramatic and catastrophic conflict, especially one seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race. This article is a brief description of Carmageddon and four theatre of war.


The First, Motorcarnage, the daily killing on the roads, is the one we are most aware of. The second is oil wars: large and small armed conflicts in pursuit of the world’s remaining oil reserves. Third, there is a global ecoside, the part played by cars in climate change and global warming, probably the most serious threat to human life in history. Finally, there is social ecoside, the degradation of communal life and culture brought by our dependency on cars to move ourselves around.


The killing vaguely comes into our sub consciousness in the “Daily Traffic” we hear on the radio, which tells us where to expect delays or which alternative route we can use where there has been a violent incident involving motor vehicles: ‘’ there has been a terrible collision on the M2 near Bellville, expect some delays, or take an alternative route through so- and- so…’’ it seldom mention the victims.

Deaths due to motor vehicles exceed those due to armed conflicts by several folds. Annual traffic deaths number more than 1.2 million, those due to armed conflict around 310,000 1. In 2004, terrorist acts killed 1907 people around the world, a 3- fold increase over the year before. 2 Most of those killed and maimed by Motorcarnage do not belong to the car-owning classes; militarist would see these deaths as ‘’collateral damage’’ overwhelming, they are from poor countries and poor communities in rich countries. In 2002, for example, of all children killed, 96% were from low- income and middle- income countries, and in rich countries, the rich for children in families without a car is twice that of children in car owning families. 3 Motoring journalist often

Climate change already kills an estimated 160,000 people each year 6 but the future looks even more interesting. Once again it will be the poor, the people who don’t belong to the car-owning classes. Who will suffer the most?

Refers to motor cars as weapons. For example, Dennis Droppa says the BMW 5M is ‘’more than just a cruise missile’’ it has ‘’the ammo to take on the super charge E- 55 even though the Benz outguns it’’. His colleague, Michelle Lupini agrees. ‘’ I reckon the BMW 5M has to be the ultimate driving weapon on the road today. 5Many other cars has been refers to as weapons.


Examples of oil was include the illegal and occupation of Iraq, the repeated attempt to overthrow President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the botched coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, and the struggles between local communities and oil companies in Nigeria and Latin America.

We can expect oil wars to escalate for three reasons. Firstly, the world’s oil production is predicted to peak soon (if it hasn’t already). After the peak, oil production will decrease. Secondly, demand will continue to increase, particularly in light of rapid economic growth and the motorization of the new superpowers like China and India. This will mean massive increase in oil price, with far reaching effect on the life of everyone. Thirdly, the US sees control of oil as a major strategic issue in terms of its foreign policies. The west coast of Africa with its oil reserves is likely to be a contested area in future oil wars.


Cars are among the largest contributors to carbon dioxide and other emissions from combustion of oil and play a large role in climate changes.

Climate change already kills an estimated 160,000 people each year 6 but the future looks even more interesting. Once again it will be the poor, the people who don’t belong to the car owning classes. Who will suffer the most? The intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the foremost authority in this field. IPCC model show the climate change will threaten health ‘’particularly in lower income populations, predominantly within tropical/subtropical countries.’’ They confidently predicts that climate change will lead to an increase in heat-related death and illness, more epidemics of infectious disease after storms and floods, make significant impacts from the displacement of populations in response to rise in sea level and greater storm activity. (Concluded next week) Culled from DNA. com