Two Billion Cars by 2029?

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – Transportation experts Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon noted in their 2009 book, Two Billion Cars: Driving Toward Sustainability, that within 20 years, there will be 2 billion cars in the world. The authors attribute their projections largely to the rapid growth China and India are experiencing.

Looking closer to home, according to the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM), North Carolina’s population in 2010 was 2,946,073. The OSBM projects North Carolina’s population in 2029 will be 12,350,162, and 25 percent of the people will be in the Research Triangle Region.

Considering most commuters in this region drive alone, that equates to dramatic increases in air pollution. More air pollution means more incidences of asthma, heart disease and other respiratory diseases, which translates to higher health care costs for companies in the region offering their employees health insurance. More air pollution also means that, for some companies, meeting emissions requirements will be costlier.

Sheikh Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister 1962-1986 is quoted as saying, “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”

In a lecture given Nov. 7 at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Sperling, the author of Two Billion Cars, described the road that will lead to the end of the “Oil Age.”

That road includes continued advances in transportation technology and fuel efficiency, improved mass transit options, changes in patterns of growth, a shift in the mindset and behaviors of travelers, and environmental and energy policies that are forward-thinking and far-reaching.

Triangle Air Awareness, through its Business Coalition and K-5 air quality curriculum, The Adventures of Clair and CAM, teaches Research Triangle Region residents small but significant steps they can take to reduce air pollution. Many of these steps lead to fewer miles driven and, therefore, fewer emissions:

  • Try mass transit: has everything Triangle residents need to plan their commutes, including an Emergency Ride Home program.
  • Combine errands.
  • Pack a lunch for work, and leave your car in park for the day.
  • Share a ride with your neighbor or co-worker.
  • Turn off your engine and walk into banks, restaurants, dry cleaners and other businesses that offer drive-thru service to conduct your transactions and make your purchases.
  • Consider letting your child ride the bus to and from school

Two billion cars in 20 years. Let the Research Triangle Region be the region to beat the odds.

Triangle Air Awareness offers its Web site and a range of activities to help regional residents learn about and access information on ways to reduce air pollution. For more information, visit or contact Loyack at or (919) 715-7647