California uses more car-petrol than China

Marilyn sez, "California uses more gas than any country in the world (except US), including China, according to the California Energy Commission's State Alternative Fuels Plan. Another interesting fact: California gas usage has increased 50% since 1988." Link (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. Yeah, I’m not surprised at all. Californians are in love with their cars and the only place in CA with descent public transportation is the Bay Area. I love how everyone thinks California is so cool and progressive, but the rich conservative Republicans rule the state.

  2. well to be fair the article states that california uses more gas for travel than anyone else (even china). After all, i was under the impression most people in China dont have a car. this doesnt surprise me much. Does anyone know if CA uses more total fossil fuels than china too? That would be something.

  3. To be fair, China uses a lot more oil than California. California makes up about 14% of US’ gasoline consumption. If we assume they make up 14% of US oil consumption, that puts them at 44.5 billion gallons of oil/year. China, on the other hand, consumes 106 billion gallons of oil/year. That’s 2.4x California’s consumption.

  4. Exactly, it’s something of a skewed statistic. I think they said ‘car-fuel’ (ie petrol or gasoline) to differentiate it from Diesel or ‘truck-fuel’, although some cars obviously run on Diesel.

    A better comparison would be amount of gasoline used per capita, per car, per mile of sealed highway, etc. I’m sure China uses a Lot of petrochemical resources when producing plastics, but we’re still all buying it from them :(

    Yes, Californians drive a Lot, and yes, there needs to be more widely available, more efficient and better quality public transport. And we need to learn to live with walking a bit and dealing with some slight inconveniences while using public transport. It will take a bit longer to get places, but surely with all the ipods/media players/cell phones/books(!!!) that we have, we can survive?

  5. Just as a little thought experiment.

    If all the US Americans dropped down dead at midnight, the world would be immediately saved from environmental catastrophe.


    If all the Californians dropped down dead at mid night it’d have almost the same effect.

    I am not suggesting this should happen, just as I said a thought.

  6. I see Americans (well Bush’s oil gang) complaining that China’s oil usage is increasing, that it will soon be nearly comparable to the US. I see China keeping quiet, trying to not draw attention to itself. Of course they could say that per capita consumption is not even remotely close, but all this is besides the point.

    The rest of the world see two fat cats gobbling up every resource on the planet, while one of them is complaining, “stop picking on me, cause this other guy is doing it too”. Well, the other guy is not even half as fat as you, and the rest of us are just skin and bones.

  7. I still find it amusing when people start to argue the fact we use so much resources.

    I think everyone wants to be on the other side, where everyone gets to have a nice life, and the world is at peace, and everything is happy. But the reality right now is someone has to be on top. It just happens to be us. And for all the “nice” lifestyle we have, we will also have the burden of doing it first.

    If you think it’ll take all these 2nd world countries (lets say India) 50+ years to get where we are now you kidding yourself. We gave them a roadmap of how to do it, which makes everything so much easier.

    When the resources start (or continue) to dry up, we will find a way to make things work. That means some other country doesn’t spend a decade coming up with the same technology. They can just jump from one tech to another.

    We might live in the “greatest country” of all, but sometimes that doesn’t have it’s perks.

  8. I think part of the problem with becoming a superpower when we (America) did was that we had all this money to spend on the Automobile, and roads, because hey, we’ll always be #1 and we’ll always have gasoline and we’ll always have industrial might.

    Turns out that’s not the case – I wish we had become a superpower when trains were the thing, so instead of I-90 we’d have the SilverLine from Bangor down to Miami.

    I also really like trains.


  9. To be fair, California has the most stringent gas standards in the country, hence, the higher price of gas in California is due to all the additives in the gas to limit air pollution from cars. The state would’ve also enacted the strongest car emission standards which other states had agreed that they were willing to follow but the Federal Government, the EPA under Bush, and the Auto Industry over ruled the state. So California may be burning more fuel… but it’s burning more cleaner gas than the rest of the country.

  10. Um, I don’t see any such statistic in the PDF linked to by the Wired article.

    In fact, an Acrobat search of the PDF shows only one reference to “China” on page 24:

    “Skyrocketing demand in China and other developing countries, coupled with political and social upheaval in key oil supply nations, is further taxing the international supply/demand equation, further degrading the nation’s energy security and driving up prices at the pump.”

    Can someone confirm/deny?

  11. California is hardly as green as many people think it is. Our public transportation system is pretty much useless in nearly all cities. When I started working in my teens, I had to take public transport, and what would have been a twenty minute drive was almost two hours on combined buses and the trolley.

  12. To be fair to us Californians, we don’t just use more gasoline than other U.S. states because our public transit sucks so much. We use more than any other state because we have by far the most people.

    That said, I take transit to work most days (I’m lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay area where it’s possible to do so) and I really, really hope that the high speed rail project to connect northern and southern California gets going soon.

  13. California has the highest population of any state, at 36 million.

    Also, with a 50% increase in population since 1980 (23 mill then to 36 mill today), it’s not surprising that there’d be a corresponding increase in fuel use.

    Really, these statistics are pretty meaningless without any sort of basis of comparison. How does our *per capita* fuel usage compare to the rest of the country, and other first-world nations?

    Take a look at the list of the world’s most populous nations, and take note of how many of them are impoverished:

    Is it any wonder that the US, being by far the largest prosperous country on the list would have higher rates of vehicle ownership?

  14. I’m from the California central valley, about 90 miles from the Bay Area, and I can tell you this problem goes well beyond cities’ public transportation woes and points to some serious socioeconomic problems.
    The entire valley used to be exclusively agriculture, but now it is an enormous suburb of the Bay Area. People cannot afford to live in the Bay Area despite working there and are forced to commute 200 miles round trip daily. These same people like to keep their palatial valley homes at an air-conditioned 60 degrees in the raging hot valley–not good for their carbon footprints.
    You almost hope that soaring gas prices get these people to stay home, but then the valley becomes an unemployed, impoverished crap heap as is currently happening. Similar things are happening in the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas.
    Society needs to restructure so that people can live and work within 5 miles of their homes, but this is a return to small town America and is long gone.

  15. California’s population has increased by more than 25% in that time period, so per-capita use has gone up by less than 25%. Probably due to larger vehicles (SUV ownership exploded in the 1990s) and longer commutes.

  16. Oil is used for much more stuff than making petrol. China uses a lot to make nylon, styrofoam, PET and other plastics for toys, clothes or shoes. Which are then exported. And don’t underestimate their cars. Although the inland is poor, the coastal areas have a rapidly growing living standard and modern urban lifestyle.

  17. I’m with #13.

    I saw no reference to any such statistic. Of course I did not read through all 130 pages of the document. I simply searched the word China. Only one reference was found. If someone can point to something that explains the statistic and also explains the Post on both BoingBoing and Wired then I’d be interested in reading it.

    This claim smells fishy.

  18. The USA uses more petrol/gasoline than the next 20 highest-consuming countries combined!

    In per-capita oil consumption, the United States is #15 (surprisingly, Canada is #13).

    And in *oil* consumption, the US does not consume more than the top 20 countries. According to this, the US consumes more than the top 5 combined, but less than the top 6.

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