The ethics of the heart and transport choices in Japan

- Hisanori Higurashi and Darryl Macer
Institute of Biological Sciences,
University of Tsukuba,
Tsukuba Science City,
Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan
Email: Macer@biol.tsukuba.ac.jp

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 11 (2001), 34-41.


Abstract

The intensification of debate over environmental ethics in recent years have clarified some ethical arguments such as autonomy, justice, beneficence, non-maleficence, trans-generational ethics and the rights of nature. However, we can ask if these ethical principles could become an incentive for people to act considering the environment. A questionnaire sheet for use in face-to-face interviews was developed to explore the ideas of the general public in order to describe the attitudes and behaviour towards transportation using private cars. People were interviewed to ask how they think of the use of private cars in the future, and whether they have restricted their use of private cars considering the environment, using open-ended questions. According to this survey, it is suggested that while more than 90% of the general public in Japan think the environment faces serious problems, most lack concrete knowledge about why environmental problems are dangerous. Among those who object to restrictions on private car use, there are also many respondents who expect a solution from the development of science and technology, as well as the general state of mind and society that considers a convenient life to be most important.

Introduction

The automobile is almost the ultimate tool for realizing one of the desires of the human ego, freedom. Those who have a car and fuel can go anywhere they like, at anytime. It is a vehicle of personal autonomy, and has changed every society. It is an enabling technology, allowing some physically handicapped persons, old persons, mothers accompanied by children, to move freely and comfortably independent of rain or wind.

The demand for transport comes from individuals. When people wish to move themselves or carry some object, the demand for transport is separately created dependent upon the time, origin, destination, and desired route. Therefore, in order to satisfy individual transport demand, autonomous transportation means such as automobiles or bicycles are often the most suitable method. An automobile can make a door to door trip in cases when a long distance walk or bicycle cannot, and can transport baggage with people at the same time. Group transport means such as buses, trains, ships, and airplanes generally can maintain their priority only in the case they are superior in speed, mass transport, cost, social companionship and comfort.

Therefore it is quite natural that private automobiles have spread all over the world within a century, and the transportation system centered on automobiles has been developed in most industrialized countries. In fact, the link of the automobile with autonomy has become an ornament or status symbol for the people of today. Commercials advertising new cars commonly picture people reaching into an idealistic environment, rural wilderness. However, the engine used in gasoline-powered automobiles is a major source of urban air pollution, and of the carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides which causes global warming. In addition, it causes tragic traffic accidents to both those who drive and don't drive a car. There are strong ethical arguments for limiting individual freedom because of the harm to persons and to the environment (1).

As well as being a significant agent of change in human relationships with the environment, in many ways transportation choices are an interesting case for models of environmental behaviour, and bioethics. In this paper we look at the reasoning expressed by ordinary people in response to a set of questions looking at their awareness of the environmental problems of cars, their views on regulation, and personal behavior to reduce driving.

Since the intensification of arguments of environmental ethics in the 1970s, various ethical principles have been applied to environmental problems. There are at least three ways to approach the term bioethics (2). One is as descriptive bioethics, the way people view life and their moral interactions and responsibilities with living organisms in life. This paper will describe views people express about their relationship to nature, and their use of private cars. Another view is normative or prescriptive bioethics, to tell others what is good or bad, what principles are most important; or to say something/someone has rights and therefore others have duties to them. A third is as interactive ethics, the discussion and debate between persons and groups.

Given that the number of cars, usage and the distance each car travels have increased over the past decades rapidly and there is a recent trend for large displacement cars such as recreation vehicles or land cruisers, we should ask whether these lofty ethical principles will ever become an incentive for the general public to act to protect the environment. Are these arguments the same as the public uses in general, are they practical beyond concerns of the heart. Will they effect the necessary lifestyle change to lessen harm to the environment?

Ethical costs of transport

Almost every human activity comes at some cost. It is clear that there are benefits of transport freedom, as discussed above. Environmentally speaking, the reason why private transportation systems have a problem is that private transport consumes more energy than public transportation systems because a passenger car is used mainly for the transport of one or two persons even though an automobile has a heavy weight. Thus one ethical problem is whether it is justified to increase the environmental load for the reason of automobile convenience, even though alternative transport means exist which have a lower environmental load.

In order to help understand the results of the survey we will give some background on the harms from the automobile, and data from Japan. Japan is the eighth largest country in the world in terms of population, but in spite of its relatively small geographical size, it has a high reliance on surface transportation. The per capita ownership rate of automobiles is high in Japan from a global view, being 534 per 1000 persons, a little lower than 782 for U.S.A., 593 for Canada and 589 for Australia. However, Japan has a similar level to European countries such as U.K., France, and Germany, about three times more per capita compared to Korea, twenty times that of Indonesia, and one hundred times that of China. Overall, this is 4.3 times the world average ownership of 1990 (3).

Passenger cars are involved in 47% of all transportation but they consume 71% of the energy in transportation sector in Japan. According to the estimate of the Environment Agency of Japan in 1998, 35% of the carbon dioxide emissions in a family were due to private transportation (4). According to the same report, and the 1997 statistics of the Japanese Management and Coordination Agency, the expenditure for private transportation by an average family was 18,839 yen a month representing 5.7% of total monthly expenditure. Thus the car does not cost much directly in terms of money, but it is environmentally expensive. This is even more true in countries like Australia and North America where the price of fuel is less than a half or third of the European and Japanese prices.

We need to also consider the total life cycle costs of producing automobiles (5). Considering the whole production chain from ore mining to the finished product, it takes 25-30 tonnes of material to manufacture a one-tonne vehicle. According to the results of life cycle assessment one average family car produced in Japan discharged 8.9 tonnes of Carbon, this figure includes the stage of production and disposition (23%), the burning of fuel (65%), and the construction of roads (12%). Private motorized transport makes a significant contribution to the creation of other important greenhouse gases including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methane, ozone, and nitrous oxides. CFCs, for example, is produced in motor vehicles' air conditioning which, in the U.S. in 1990, accounted for 28% of total CFC output (6). These are a major cause of the destruction of stratospheric ozone, the layer of gas that blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun reaching the Earth.

The second assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that due to the anthropogenic influence upon global climate, the expected rate of climate change over the coming century would be far greater than any natural change in world climate since the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago (7). Changes in climatic conditions and weather variability would affect human health through several processes, many mediated by disturbances of ecological systems. Changes in the environment to which human biology and culture are adapted or disturbances of ecosystems that set the conditions for health would generally have adverse effects on health. Global warming and holes in the ozone layer are threats to present and future generations, and this issue has been publicized well in most countries of the world.

Apart from the global impact, automobile use contributes to the degradation of our more immediate atmosphere, so it affects the local environment that people breathe, drink or see. The substances which are frequently discussed are carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and suspended particulate matter (SPM). There are some differences between different vehicles, and one of the significant differences is the diesel emissions. SPM results from the incomplete combustion of fuel. Because of their small size, they are able to penetrate deeply into the lungs, causing bronchitis and asthma. The surfaces of SPM also carry cancer-causing agents. SPM is one of major disadvantages of automobile transport, though this caused by diesel fuelled vehicles mainly, buses and trucks, rather than smaller cars.

Although we can estimate the generation source of NOx and SPM for automobiles in total, the emissions from business vehicles, especially in diesel fuelled vehicles, is significant and the exact contribution rate of private vehicles is difficult to determine. Oil and hazardous chemicals are ejected from road vehicles at a low level constantly during normal operation, and at high level during abnormal operation including accidents. Improper disposal of used lubricating oil is a major source of contamination of surface and underground water, especially in countries where people so it themselves. Tires deposit zinc and cadmium in rubber dust. Brake linings deposit copper, nickel, chromium and manganese, and the list goes on. For the purpose of this paper however, the ethical issue is that we need scientific research to clearly assess the total impact of different forms of transport, in order to make clear advice on how many people in the bus is ethically advantageous over how many people in a car.

Transport is a major consumer of land, another ethical issue. Outside urban areas, transport infrastructure can disrupt or destroy natural habitats and adversely affect the ecological balance. Within urban areas, higher proportions of land area are devoted to transportation. Various imprecise estimates have been made as to the actual proportions. The range most often cited is 25-35 per cent of the land is devoted to streets in modern cities, compared with less than 10 percent in cities designed before the advent of motorized transport. These proportions do not include land used for auxiliary transport purposes such as parking, which can raise the proportion of land paved for transportation purposes to even higher levels. Urban sprawl is made possible by motorized transportation and creates further demand for it, thereby magnifying its adverse effects. It often consumes good agricultural land. Sprawl is mostly associated with low-density development of land that in turn is associated with high rates of automobile ownership and use. A 100-fold increase in residential density (from 100 to 10,000 persons per square kilometer) is associated with increase of only two to three times in total amount of travel and three to four times in total automobile use (8).

Driving a car has become so matter-of-fact that few people are aware of the possible direct health risks involved. The health risks, involve a direct consideration of the ethical principle of do no harm to others. Statistically, passengers are exposed to more danger of injury than the persons who driving a car. In Japan more than 28% of people killed in car accidents are walking at the time, even though their contribution rate is 5% of all cases of fatal accidents.

There are other human health hazards, besides traffic accident injury, and various air pollutants. Since 1972 the annual average distance a person in the U.K. walked has fallen by 22%. The decline is greatest among 5-15 year olds, in whom mileage has fallen by 28%. A quarter of all car journeys are under two miles (3.2 km), and the proportion of children traveling to school by car has increased from 12% in 1975 to 23% in 1994 (9). This may actually decrease the time spent in the environment and increase the distance between human beings and the environment.

Surveys have generally showed that the disturbance most frequently cited by respondents is noise in the home. This finding also emerges from an analysis of complaints relating to the environment, the majority of which concern noise. The prime offending source of noise in terms of the number of people disturbed is road traffic, followed by neighborhood and aircraft noise. The effects of noise on people are various (annoyance, behavioral changes, stress effects, hearing damages and physiological reactions) and are often interrelated. Quite apart from the permanent damage it causes to hearing, it also has a very considerable impact on how the individual functions physiologically, psychologically and socially, both because of the effort required to acclimatize to noise and because of the frustration resulting from the deterioration in the quality of life and sleep. Studies have found noise standards in countries which have them are often broken.

With all these costs we can question whether personal autonomy is worth it. There are some additional advantages of cars, like any industry. Japan is internationally recognized by the companies which make automobiles, and companies like Toyota have become the leading sellers of cars in many countries of the world. We can question whether the increase in cars is due to increase in prosperity or whether the automobile industry, a comprehensive industry, is the reason for Japan's development in total. Automobiles are a source of revenue via taxes, at the stage of purchase and also during use. There are taxes on fuel in different countries. There are also economic and employment benefits also from road maintenance of the nation and in the rural community it can be a source of general revenue.

Public perceptions of transport and the environment

An important approach in bioethics is descriptive bioethics. There have been several questions which examined environmental issues and transport in Japan before. In 1995, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) conducted a survey concerned with global environmental issues (10). In this survey, in response to the question, "at present, environmental issues of global scale such as destruction of the ozone layer, global warming, decrease of the tropical rain forest and so on occupy the attention of people domestically and overseas. How do you think about these global environmental problems?", 63% answered "it is the highest priority problem that should be tackled as a global scale problem."

However, there are more immediate local environmental problems that may be needed in order for people to realize that they face a problem in practice. In another PMO survey conducted in October, 1996 (11), 52% of respondents answered that they have experienced a public nuisance over the last few years. Among the items that could be chosen, 53 % chose "noise or air pollution caused by cars and motorcycles", and it was the most common response, as it has been in previous surveys conducted since 1988. Among the people having an experience of harm, 81% said they do not do anything in order to remove or reduce the harm. The reasons given for not doing anything were "because it was not so harmful, I endured it" (45%), "I gave it up because it was unavoidable in that location" (26%), "it was tiresome" (17%), for example. An important issue is to know whether people think the nuisance can be endured or not, because life will be improved. One can also wonder whether they think of improvement to their own life, and/or life of others, and/or lives of non-human members of the ecosystem.

Most people were pessimistic about the future, with 65% expecting to receive harm from public nuisances in the future. Among the specific responses as expectations of increased harm, "noise or air pollution caused by cars and motorcycles" was also the highest, given by 44%. Of course it includes excessive noise caused by reckless drivers, but, at any rate, this result indicates that the nuisance caused by motor vehicles is a most urgent problem at present, and people apparently do not expect it to get much better. Another was "do you have any point you are taking care of in daily life in order to conserve the environment", found 60% listed "I'm taking care of saving electricity in daily life", 47% listed "throwing as little waste away as possible", 45% said "I buy a recycled product such as recycled paper and send disused products to recycling", but the least common answer was "When I move I do not use a car but use a train or the like", being chosen by 10%.

Survey responses on transportation problems

A survey was conducted with the purpose to examine the reasons for what would be expected to be a gap between perceptions and actions in car use. A qualitative survey using open questions was used in order to explore the specific features of the reasons not to act. The questions were designed with the purpose to reveal the reasoning about the following questions. Do people think it is necessary to take some action in order to protect the environment? Do people perceive the harm caused by automobiles? Do people think it is necessary to restrict the use of private cars? And do people restrict their own use of private car in order to preserve the environment?

Between September and October 1998, a series of 302 interviews were conducted in public places in Tsukuba Science City in Japan with people 18 years or over (the age at which one can get a drivers license in Japan). Most surveys were conducted in a public park, and the response rate to obtain interviews was 87%. The main reasons to refuse the interviews were "this is difficult for me" and "I can't read questionnaire without glasses". Overall 55% were male, 41% were 30 years or under, 42% between 31 to 40 years, and 17% over 40 years old. 54% were office workers, 27% housewives, 7% students, and 6% self-employed with a variety of other occupations. The frequency of car ownership and use were higher than the general population, with only 5% not having a car in their family, and 40% having at least two cars in the family. Only 5% did not have a driver's license, and 66% said they used a car everyday. Tsukuba Science City was built in the 1970s based around the use of the car, and has a population of 200,000 persons, with a further 500,000 persons living within 20km.

There was high agreement, 93%, with the question "Do you think that we should act in order to prevent so-called global environmental problems? And please, tell me why do you think so.", as seen in Table 1. Also in 1998 we included this question in a survey of 567 high school students in Japan, and 87% answered yes to the same question, with 2% disagreeing. Details of other parts of that survey which examined anthropocentric, biocentric and ecocentric concerns of the students about environmental behaviour in general have been published elsewhere (12).

Table 1: Necessity of action to conserve the earth's environment

Necessity of action n %
Necessary 281 93
Unnecessary 2 1
Don't know 17 6
No answer 2 1
Total 302 100
Among the public respondents, there was general anxiety about the future expressed in response to the question, with the idea that we cannot find out a way to solve the environmental problems, and the most frequently cited reason why we should act was transgenerational ethics (Table 2). People cited various anthropocentric reasons. Only around 20% of people raised the point of the subject for whom we should preserve the environment, but of those 13% used the terms: "children (kodomo)", "descendant (sison)", or "next generation (jisedai)". 4% cited the term the "human race (jinrui)" or "human beings (ningen)". Only 5 persons (2%) expressed anxiety about other organisms, or nature as one system which humans should not change too much.

As a general term, 25 persons (8%) used the term "future", and 8% made an assumption used the expression "if it is as it is (kono mama deha)" (8%). The next most frequent term that we could see was "deterioration (akka)" or a "direction for the worse (warui houkou)" (6%). Only 5% of respondents cited the term "life (seikatsu)" or "live (ikiru)", and 4% presented their "anxiety (huan)", "concern (shinpai)", or conversely peace of mind "(anshin)". Another 4% used the term "survive (seizon)" or conversely "collapse (zetsumetsu)".

Other responses includes various environmental problems were cited, for example, "air pollution" (5 persons), "global warming" or "CO2" (10 persons), "abnormal weather" or "climate change" (5 persons), "ozone" (9 persons), "acid rain" (1 person), chemical substances such as "dioxin" or "environmental estrogen" (9 persons), "waste" or "recycling" (9 persons), and the decrease of "nature" or "ecosystem change" (14 persons). Besides, 10 persons used the term abstractly "environmental problems" or "environmental destruction", and 6 persons used the general term "pollution". A further 11 persons cited the issues of "resources" or "energy", and 8 persons cited the issues concerning our "health" or the influence for human body. Another 4 persons used the term "waste (muda)" or "consumer society (syouhi syakai)", this means that our present day life is "extravagant (zeitaku)", and therefore we need to change our lifestyle to one more friendly for the earth.

Table 2: Reasons given as reason to save the Earth's environment (Q1)

Group Category

N

% of necessary

% total

For someone Children, descendants, next generation

39

14

13

Human beings, humankind

13

5

4

We, us, our

8

3

3

Biocentric or ecocentric

5

2

2

Concrete phenomena Environmental problems or destruction

10

4

3

Pollution

6

2

2

Air pollution

5

2

2

Global warming

10

4

3

Abnormal weather, climate change

5

2

2

Ozone

9

3

3

Acid rain

1

0

0

Dioxin, environmental estrogens

9

3

3

Waste, recycling

9

3

3

Decrease of nature, ecosystem change

14

5

5

Problems Health, influence for human body

8

3

3

Waste, consumer society

4

1

1

Resources, energy

11

4

4

Car, exhaust gases

18

6

6

Other reasons Future

25

9

8

If it is as it is ...

24

9

8

Deterioration, direction for worse

19

7

6

Life, live

14

5

5

Anxiety, concern, ...

13

5

4

Survive, collapse, ...

12

4

4

Not stated

89

32

29

Spoilt answers

5

2

2

Total

385

139

128

Table 2: Problems created by automobiles (Q2)

Group Category

N

% of problems exist

% total

Structural problem Traffic accidents

32

12

10

Health

20

8

7

Resources, Energy

18

7

6

Efficiency

2

1

1

Exhaust gases

68

26

22

Diesel no good

2

1

1

Traffic system Traffic congestion

31

12

10

Weakened public transport

5

2

2

The weak in transportation

3

1

1

Car increases

6

2

2

Parking space

4

2

1

Illegal parking

5

2

2

Traffic problems

3

1

1

Road problems

2

1

1

Car comes to be essential

3

1

1

Public nuisance

4

2

1

Noise

18

7

6

Environment Environmental problems

18

7

6

Pollution

21

8

7

Air pollution

51

20

17

Global warming

24

9

8

NOx, SOx

10

4

3

Acid rain

2

1

1

Wastes

2

1

1

Ozone layer

6

2

2

Nature

9

3

3

The problem of use Manner

4

2

1

Others

5

2

2

No stated

49

19

16

Spoilt answer

7

3

2

Total

378

147

126

The next question, "Now in Japan, the number of passenger car is growing rapidly towered one car for each person. Then, Have you ever thought that free use of private vehicle will generate or generated some social problem? What is that problem." found 84% agreement and 14% disagreement. The high school survey found 81% agreement and 18% disagreement.

The social problems cited by the public respondents were first assigned into 31 categories, with 29% having two or more ideas, and thus being assigned into two categories. We grouped these categories into four broad groups: structural problems of cars, traffic system problems, environmental problems, and the problems of use (Table 3). A total of 19% did not cite any problems for Q2.

"Accidents" were a frequently cited (10%) structural problem of the present transportation system. For example: "I feel it is tragic that there are traffic accidents no matter what happens." Another 7% mentioned "health". These include those that impact human health because of motorization itself, such as, obesity, lack of exercise, decline of physical ability, and those which depend on pollution and its influence on the human body, from current systems which might be removed by alternative systems, such as diseases like asthma. The former, weakening the ability of human body was cited by 6 persons, and the later, the health harm caused by exhaust gases was cited by 14 persons. Similarly, another 7% of respondents cited "energy" or "resources" problems and were worried about how long resources last. The most common of all comments was "exhaust gases" cited by 22%.

"Congestion" was the most frequently cited concern of the system (10%). Since many people in this survey are actually driving they seem to feel the congestion directly, as seen in comments like "Traffic congestion (The time of commuting morning and evening)". Related to the increase of car use, most people in this area have come not to use public transportation systems. This causes a rise in bus fares, for example, and, as a result, weakens the public transportation system. Only 5 people (2%) mentioned about this negative feedback reaction, that weakens the public transport. The weakening of public transportation has adverse impacts on people unable to use private cars, and 3 people mentioned about these people, like "I think it is good if a person who really needs it can use it. I think it is a social problem that a person who really needs it cannot use it. For example, a person who is sick or cannot walk."

Although this is not the direct problem of the system itself, 2% of respondents cited the issues of "increasing numbers of cars". The issues of space is raised especially in a country in which land is limited like Japan. 4 persons (1%) cited the problem of "the lack of parking lots". Related to the lack of parking space is "illegal parking", which another 5 persons (2%) cited. Noise was cited by 18 people (6%).

Comments on environmental problems included "environmental problems" (6%), "pollution" (7%), "air pollution" (17%), "global warming" or "CO2" (8%). "NOx" or "SOx" (3%), "acid rain" (1%), "waste (2%)". Only 3% of respondents mentioned the destruction of "nature (sizen)" due to the car driving into scenic places, or the influence on the "ecosystem (seitaikei)". For example: "Exhaust gas problem. Because we come to go into the place where people have never accessed because it is more convenience and it destroys nature."

Among the problems on how to use cars, 3 people cited "manners", and 1 person wanted the revision of "law ", and another person cited the problem of business ethics. A further 3 persons cited the present tendency for "contempt for human beings (ningen keisi)" and mentioned about how the features of the present construction of cities came to give priority to cars. One person mentioned about the "extravagance (zeitaku)" of our life and another cited economic issues.

Table 4: Reasons cited for the necessity to restrict private car use (Q3 _ yes)

Group Category

N

% of should restrict

Total %

State Environment

34

25

11

Wasteful use

18

13

6

Manner/Moral/Consciousness

3

2

1

Need compulsion

3

2

1

Congestion

2

1

1

Should give priority for humans

2

1

1

Others

10

7

3

Condition Depends on the degree

9

7

3

Public transport should be first

8

6

3

Difficult/Impossible

2

1

1

Policy Company/Technology

13

10

4

Others

14

10

5

No stated

48

35

16

can't decode

1

1

0

Total

167

121

56

Table 5: Reasons cited why it is not necessary to restrict private car use (Q3 _ yes)

Group Category

N

% of need not restrict

Total %

Hope for Technologies Technology, Company

22

29

7

Condition Necessary, Difficult

13

17

4

Public transport

7

9

2

Depends on region or person

5

6

2

Others Free will of individuals

2

3

1

Others

8

10

3

No stated

29

38

10

Can't decode

2

3

1

Total

88

115

30

Table 6: Reasons cited to use alternative transport (Q4)

Group Category

N

Itemized %

Total %

Self-interest Health

13

12

4

Congestion

7

6

2

Economy

3

3

1

Parking lot

3

3

1

Self-interest (others)

4

4

1

Altruism Environment

26

23

9

Altruism (others)

14

13

5

No stated

27

24

9

Can't be sorted out, others

9

8

3

Total

106

96

35

Survey responses on transportation choices

Following the first two open questions described above on recognition of the environmental problems, was Q3 which asked whether people thought some restriction of private car use was needed. Less than half, 45%, agreed that the use of the private car should be restricted more than at present to preserve the environment, however 25% said we need not to restrict. A further 27% of respondents answered they "don't know". It is useful to discuss separately the reasons given to support the answers that we "should restrict", "need not restrict", and "don't know". In the comments supporting restrictions, summarized in Table 4, there was a tendency that most people cited the bad side of motorized society, such as it causes environmental problems, wastes resources and energy, and there are various adverse effects from it. However, since many had already mentioned about the problems of motorized society in the second question, they didn't cite many concrete examples of the reasons. There were many persons who cited a condition by which they will agree with the restriction, or a policy that they wanted government to enforce concretely.

In the reasons given for us not to restrict transport, summarized in Table 5, the most frequently cited reason was that, by means of the development of technologies, we should overcome the hardships of motorized society, or we can overcome it. This is like believe in the technological fix paradigm. One of the tendencies of the reasons under "don't know" was the conflict between the convenience of automobile use and the problems caused by it.

The most frequently cited reason was concerning specific environmental issues including destruction of nature (25% of those who said we should restrict and 11% of the total) (Table 4). There were 6% of the total comments including the terms, "wasteful (muda)" and "unnecessarily (huhituyou)". This category includes not only the meaning that the car consumes too much resources or energy, but also the way of using the car such as when we use it unnecessarily like when we use it even to visit very close places, where we came and went by foot in the recent past. For example: "There are too many people who drive a big car such as 4 WD unnecessarily.", "It is not necessary to travel to a near place. We should use a bicycle and so on much more.".

Although strictly not the reason to choose we "should restrict", 7% of the persons mentioned a condition by which they will agree to the restriction and the policies which they want governments to enforce. In the category "policy" that 9% gave, the most frequently cited action was that companies should improve the car and that the environmental load should be decreased at the stage of production.

The most frequently cited reason among those who chose "need no restriction" in Q3 (Table 5) was that the car itself should be improved by means of the development of science and technology instead of a restriction (7%). Secondly, there were ideas like it is "Necessary (hituyou) or difficult (muzukashii)" (4%). A further 2% said that to prepare the public transportation means such as buses or trains should be done first before the restriction of the private car use. There were a few other opinions, for example, 2 persons said we "should leave it to the free will of individuals", and other comments like, it is "the responsibility of supply on the manufacturers side", "bad influence to the economy", and so on, as follows: "Since I think that freedom of transport promotes the democratization of human society.", or "I think we need it for commercial vehicles, trucks, and large-sized vehicles, but it is not needed for private vehicle." The reasons for choosing "don't know" were basically a conflict between "we should" and "but it is necessary".

The final open question was to explore the action people had taken, or at least they reported they had. One third of the total, 36%, said they were about to use or had used other traffic means to avoid private car use, while 61% said they had not or would not. Self-interest was the reason given by 28% of those who said they had done something, 23% said it was for the environment and 13% did it for others, altruism (Table 6). Among the 28% citing self interest, 12% cited "health" issues, to get rid of the "lack of exercise". Seven persons (6%) cited "congestion", and three persons mentioned transport in a private car is more expensive than the other means such as public transport. Another three persons cited the lack of "parking lots". As with the other open comments, some comments included several reasons, for example: "For the first, it is good for health and feel good. From the view of environmental preservation and economics, the system of riding together is reasonable, I think. " [e.g. categories, "Health" + environment, economy]; "The use of bicycle (including the matter of economy and health)." ["Economy" + health]; "I used other traffic means because there are few parking lots. But, thinking of the preservation of the environment, we have to consider it from now on." (156) ["Parking lot" +public transport].

Other reasons that were given were 26 persons (23% who had done something, 9% of the total) cited environmental issues, resources and energy, or public nuisance. Various altruistic reasons were given by the 13%, including "for children or the next generation". Some (43 people: 16%) did not give a reason for choosing "yes", but described what they did actually. The breakdown of this is: 23 people cited a "bicycle", 10 "train", 8 "walk, 5 " buses" and 3 people described abstractly "other public transportation system", besides, two persons said that they rode together.

Table 7: Reasons cited not to use alternative transport (Q4)

Group Category

N

% of no

% total

Causes Public transport

47

26

16

Depends on region

23

13

8

Obstacle in life Work

14

8

5

Children etc.

10

5

3

Life

7

4

2

Time

6

3

2

Others Although I have thought ...

7

4

2

I have never thought ...

5

3

2

No car or license

3

2

1

Nation should lead ...

4

2

1

Others

7

4

2

Not stated

64

35

21

However... (bad side)

1

1

0

Total

133

74

44

The most frequently cited term for not doing something was the bad "public transport" (15% of the total), and it depends on the "region" (8%) (Table 7). They stated that the public transportation which is the same as the convenience of private car should be prepared before the restriction. Actually, we can really wonder whether any public transport has the same convenience for transport as the car. There were persons who want the same convenience of public transport in Tokyo Metropolitan area (60km to the South). However, maybe people who live in Tokyo choose the traffic means, according to the convenience. If there were no heavy traffic congestion in Tokyo Metropolitan area, people may not actually choose public transport.

Respondents included 14 persons (5% of the total) cited their "work", and 10 persons cited their "children" or a family member. Next, 7 persons cited the term "life", this means that, if there were no car, they cannot live their life. Next, 6 persons cited the "time, this means, if there were no car, they cannot get to work in time etc. Another 7 persons said that they have thought about it but they have never acted yet. On the contrary 4 persons said that they have never thought about this problem.

There were also four fixed response questions placed at the end of the open questions, so as not to influence the responses. Only 23% said they have changed their life style in significant ways, but 64% said they had not. 98% said they sorted out household waste. Most had experienced some problems personally from cars, with 62% saying they had experienced noise from cars or motorcycles and 31% saying they had not (compare to 70% yes and 30% no for high school students). However, only 23% said they had experienced air pollution caused by car and motorcycles and 41% said they had not (compared to 54% of high school students and 43% said they had not).

Do peoples concerns reflect academic arguments?

The survey data allows us to ask whether ordinary people have the same type of reasoning as academics. Although the sample may have included more people who like parks because most interviews were conducted there, 95% of persons had a driver's license and most live in a modern city that relies on the car for transport. The transport problem is only one of a range of issues that could be used as examples to examine behaviour. Others include recycling activity, saving water, saving energy, bringing your own bags to the supermarket, for example. For some of these activities consumption patterns could be measured, and we would encourage such studies in different countries as well.

There may be national differences, for example, the International Bioethics Survey conducted in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, The Philippines, Russia, Singapore and Thailand, in 1993 (13). That data also made comparisons to Europe. In Western Europe, Australasia, and Japan, around 90% said they tried to segregate wastes for recycling. However, in the case of the car, less Japanese say they restrain private car use, than in Germany. The difference between countries may be a result of differences in the accumulated reasoning of individuals, which may be the cause of, or the effect of, different social systems. It may be premature to think that this result comes a difference in social systems, and in depth sociological analysis of the thinking of different groups is needed. In the case of recycling activities, a social system that enables people to participate needs to exist so people can act. However, in the case of restraint in private car use, a social system such as alternative transportation was, especially in Japan, not ready, so few people felt they could exercise their concerns into practice.

From the survey conducted in Tsukuba, less than 20% of respondents raised considerations for moral agents (for whom), as the reason that we need to take action to preserve the environment. Most of them said that it is for children, descendants, next generation or human beings as a species. Although environmental ethicists argued actively about the value of nature itself or rights of natural entities to live, only less than 2% of respondents raised this issue in this question.

A significant difference in action appeared in those who mentioned about moral agents (for example, for children, human beings or beings other than humans) and the other respondents. Among those in the first question who mentioned a moral agent, 61% said we should restrict the use of cars compared to 42% in general (c 2=7.387, p<0.01), and 49% had restricted themselves compared to 34% in general (c 2=4.381, p<0.05). However, we cannot know whether to notice the necessity of consideration for moral agents results in conduct to restrict driving or from the beginning the group which was the most anxious about the environmental problems had acted more environmentally friendly and considered others consequently.

A survey of high school students conducted in 1998 in Japan found that anthropocentric reasoning was less likely to be seen in those who said they had taken conservation behaviour, like recycling or saving energy. These activities were more common in the persons who supported a biocentric or ecocentric view of the relationship between humans and nature (12). Therefore it could be useful to attempt to educate people to move towards a biocentric framework, and it may be another target for educational campaigns to reduce vehicle use, although it is not tested to our knowledge.

Most people (84%) thought problems caused by the free use of private cars exist. However, to the question "should we restrict the use of private car more than ever", the opinion of respondents were divided three ways: "should restrict (45%)", "need not restrict (25%)", and "don't know (27%)". Here, the most frequently cited reason of "need not restrict" was that it will be "solved by the development of science and technology". This is related to the concept of the technological fix, and it is clearly a barrier to action. Of course, science and technology development is an important approach because we need not to give up anything to solve environmental problems. However, an ethical choice is still necessary because technology might well not be able to solve the problems. People will delay to act because they think the problem can be solved, rather than attempting to reduce or remove the problem. This could result from the paradigm of modern society that views itself as progressing with the development of science and technology.

The most striking conflict was between the first and last open questions. The last question, "have you ever restricted the use of a private car in order to preserve the environment", saw only 36% of respondents chose "yes". However, 28% in choosing "yes" cited the reasons that their conduct to have used alternative transport was for their own interest such as for health or avoiding congestion. Excluding those self-interest reasons, 19% of all respondents chose other traffic means for altruistic reasons such as for environmental conservation or avoiding harm others. This is significantly better than the 2% who mentioned biocentric or ecocentric concerns in the first question, however, most of these 19% of the total respondents were actually giving anthropocentric reasoning in their comments.

Analysis of the open-ended questions in the survey of this research, found that although there were many descriptions that mentioned concrete environmental problems, there were not many answers for the questions, why damaging the environment is dangerous, or why we should preserve the environment. The general public has an abstract fear of environmental deterioration. However, few have concrete knowledge of why it is dangerous. It seems that most of the general public was prevented from the real action to preserve the environment, maybe because a vague fear is insufficient incentive for general public to make an action.

There are policy implications from the most frequently cited reason not to have used other traffic means, which was "public transportation is too bad" or "public transportation should be prepared before the restriction". Also many respondents from the general public said that more convenient public transportation should be prepared first, before implementation of any such restriction. However, the car is the ideal tool for individual transport; there is nothing more convenient than a private car. So it is no use seeking public transportation means more convenient than a private car. Also it is necessary for people to recognize that their own spreading of private cars makes the public transportation systems decline.

We may be put under some pressure by the people around us to engage ourselves in a particular activity, or to behave in a certain way, but ultimately it is our choice. There is a duty to let people make their own choices, and we can express this in terms of movement as epitomized in transportation systems beyond legs. This ethics is also expressed in the language of rights, by recognizing the right of individuals to make choices. Respect for the autonomy of individuals is a fundamental principle of ethics, and is found in early times in those religions that recognize freedom of belief. However, the autonomy is limited by respect for the autonomy of other individuals in the society.

The efforts to restrict the use of personal transport are apt to be seen as the erosion of personal freedom. Especially recent years, the freedom to drive one's own automobile whenever one wants is considered to be a right that cannot be compromised. However, the freedom is guaranteed only when he or she don't harm others.

The principle of intergenerational justice suggests we may have to restrict our use of private cars even though such restriction would be inconvenient. It may be necessary for the general public to know that their individual actions are harming others, especially the many future generations. Even for the current generation, we should ensure that the least fortunate level of life is acceptable for every human being. The people in our society who live close to roads face the burden of noise, and exposure to direct pollution. According to the National Institute for Environmental Studies, many people living near main roads are suffering from the public nuisance from the roads (14). There have been court cases in Kawasaki in Japan against the pollution blamed on the elevated expressways that link Tokyo with southern commuting towns, however, few people mentioned this as a comment.

Private car ownership must have seemed very luxurious not long ago; most people must have thought it natural that we could not use it and felt no inconvenience. However, it has come to be considered not only be natural, but also essential. It is difficult to judge what is essential use of a private car and what is luxury. However, if we hope for autonomous conduct of citizens, as represented by terms like "lifestyle change", it is essential that the citizenry achieve a deeper understanding of environmental problems. The extent of present understanding is insufficient to motivate citizens to action. In order to promote better bioethical maturity we need to develop appropriate environmental ethics education.

A fundamental theme we have to consider is whether people can control themselves in order to realize their ideal? Some people may only try to fulfil one of their desires because it is exclusive to another desire. Others may be happy to compromise competing ideals in various balancing strategies. There are policy questions, especially in democracies, on whether governments can ethically prevent people from acting as they like if there is a social consensus that it is better for our common future? People may not notice that their actions and ideals may not be compatible. Others may notice the hypocrisy between long-term ideals and immediate desire but they are prevented from keeping their ideal for yet other reasons.

We do not intend to say that we should restrict the ethical principle of autonomy or liberty as this is a matter for informed choice expressed by the free use of private cars because our lives would thus become richer, but rather that it is necessary for us to restrict car use, even if it is very hard. Of course, we must respect autonomy to the extent we don't harm others. The free use of private cars harms others severely, especially, the rights of the next generation or the poorest people. Therefore, the present motorized society is ethically controversial. Indirectly there is damage to this and future generations from the global climate change and acidification of lakes, and other "tragedies of the commons".

There have been a number of policies proposed, and some implemented, to help reduce the environment load caused by transport. Few of these policies were mentioned by the respondents, even though some are used in Japan. For example, road pricing policies include raising tax the level according to automobile weight, raising the price of gasoline and high way charges are used in Japan, and at least some people buy a small car for environmental reasons, though economic reasons were also given by some respondents.

Other policies such as restricting driving into specific areas such as Metropolitan and urban areas, or establishment of lanes for vehicles with more than one person, but these are not seen in Japan. Only two persons (<1%) said they had started to share car rides to save the use of cars. The idea of solidarity and traveling together with other persons has been expressed by policy makers, advertising campaigns and academics. It is meant to represent community involvement, however, even in a country supposedly communitarian, the idea to share cars is seldom seen. It may be because there is also a social ethic not to bother others, which means not to travel together. In a 1992 Californian survey that asked solo drivers how they might be encouraged to change to multiple passenger commuting, found positive measures would be more effective than negatives ones like fees. Of the solo drivers, 28% would stop if their employers paid them a cash bonus, or 33% if more public transit, or 35% said if there were more car pools at work (15).

There are several possible reasons given in government policy papers or academic writing for a gap between public perceptions and actions. People don't know what to do, or if they act they still don't know how it works. There is no place to participate, and no service or products to purchase. People may not want to do things that come to be a economic burden for them. This survey found most people gave different reasons, but the no option available or economic burden option where expressed by a few persons.

A few people raised philosophical questions, that have been discussed, like How long should we sustain personal transport choices as a type of "sustainable development" (16). We can also ask scientists to start telling us the answers to this, however, ordinary people do recognize that it is not forever sustainable unless something changes. However, lifestyle change is still not recognized as necessary without some impetus from policy makers, or tax incentives. Recent reports on the environment suggest that technical change alone will not allow a switch to sustainable living because the global economic system may not be able to be made compatible with sustainability (17). Even with an optimistic view, the time delay in global implementation of new technology would mean that the world may be very different from that of today (18).

Conclusion

The ethics of people's heart and their action are different when it comes to transportation. People in this survey, were conscious that there is an environmental crisis. Most were conscious that cars were causing problems, however, only a third of people said they had acted to reduce car use. One of the problems may be a gap between academic and non-academic arguments. Another problem may be that even if the arguments are known, people just lack the ability to apply them to practice to challenge their lifestyle and the peer pressure that demands consumption. It has found that people did share the concerns for the environment in their heart, and a range of arguments was given which can be related to the commonly used ethical principles of academics. We may need to make people aware of the moral agents that are directly affected by environmental pollution and transportation if we want to move concerns from the heart to the feet, so to speak.

References

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20. Darryl R.J.Macer, "Bioethics and lifestyles to protect the environment in the age of biotechnology", pp.42-49 in Ishizuka, K. et al., eds., Traditional Technology for Enviromental Conservation and Sustainable Development (University of Tsukuba Masters Program in Environmental Sciences, 1995).
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