Alexander Popov, Unsplash

Climate change could make us drive more

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

When the mercury soars, we're more likely to hop in a car or on a bus, which could lead to a vicious loop - sending emissions from transportation up as climate change sets in. Looking at weather data, US researchers found when temperatures go from freezing to 30C, the number of miles travelled in private vehicles goes up by 10 per cent, and the number of public transport trips by 15 per cent. They say over the coming century, warming could add over one trillion vehicle miles and six billion public transport trips in the US alone.

Journal/conference: Journal of the Royal Society Interface

DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2019.0058

Organisation/s: MIT Media Lab, USA

Funder: MIT Media Lab.

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Risk of a feedback loop between climatic warming and human mobility

Human behaviors alter - and are altered by - climate. Might the impacts of warming on human behaviors amplify anthropogenic contributions to climate change? Here we show that warmer temperatures substantially increase transportation use in the United States. We project that warming over the coming century may add over one trillion cumulative vehicle miles traveled and six billion trips on public transit in the US alone, presenting the risk of a novel feedback loop in the human-environmental system.


  • The Royal Society
    Web page
    The URL will go live when the embargo ends.

News for:


Media contact details for this story are only visible to registered journalists.