You don't have to be a wild-eyed tree-hugger to recognize that the latest U.N. report on climate raises serious concerns about our deteriorating environment.
It ought to be a loud call to action for the auto industry.
Reasonable people may disagree about the automobile's role in climate change, but there can be no debate about the consequences of inaction: Sooner or later, there will be regulatory hell to pay. Here's what automakers can do:
1. Expand research on advanced technology. It probably won't solve the problem by itself, but it could help ease the pain. That means diesels, hybrids, fuel cells et al.
2. You don't have to stop selling trucks that meet the hauling and towing needs of consumers, but you can improve efficiency without great sacrifices in performance. Be honest. Is it really necessary to go from 0 to 60 mph in 9 seconds in a 7,000-pound sport-utility?
3. Use ad budgets and marketing prowess to help make saving the planet 'cool' for everyone. But don't try to sell 'sacrifice.' Remember how that worked for Jimmy Carter.
4. Without demonizing your own products, promote mass transit use where appropriate and encourage walking and biking for trips to the convenience store; it can make a big difference.
5. Don't forget stationary sources of greenhouse gases, such as factories and dealerships. Take an inventory and take steps that save energy - and save you and your dealers money.
6. Make ISO 14001 certification compulsory - at a reasonable pace - for suppliers and dealers. ISO 14001 is an international environment standard for industry.
It's a chance for the industry to do the right thing and to do well by doing good.