Parking lots are a bigger environmental threat than oil. When you’re looking for one, it might seem like every parking spot on Earth has been taken, but ponder this: there’s at least 500 million empty spaces, just in the United States alone, at any given time.
Climate scientists say that little research has been done to estimate the impact that parking spaces, where automobiles spend 95 percent of their time, have on our planet. “I think it’s a surprisingly unknown quantity,” said Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor and author of the book ‘The High Cost of Free Parking’. “Parking is the single biggest land use in any city.
It’s kind of like dark matter in the universe, we know it’s there, but we don’t know what it’s doing or how much there is.” Civil engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, published the first comprehensive estimate of parking spaces in America and found that the energy and materials associated with creating hundreds of millions of parking spaces has had a significant environmental impact. Consider direct deforestation, contaminates leeching into the ground and heat retention of all the parking spots in the world, and the global environmental threat may be significantly higher than even that of oil pollutants.