This chart from the 2009 Statistical Abstract of the United States shows that 28.6 percent of U.S.energy use happens in transportation. That figure, of course, includes only the fuels we burn while operating our transportation equipment.
What about the energy it takes to manufacture and maintain both that equipment and the spaces and surfaces over which it gets operated?
That further energy burn has to be counted against transportation, too. Undoubtedly, some serious chunk of the 31.8 percent of total annual energy use that gets spent in what remains of the U.S. industrial sector goes into making and servicing cars and roads.
Hence, it is very safe to say we are now spending well over a third of our total energy use — which is itself over a fifth of total world energy use, and double the per capita amount spent in all other OECD countries except Canada — on transportation alone.
And, of course, automobiles account for the lion’s share of that.
If this arrangement isn’t unsustainable, nothing is.