What’s it going to be: poverty, or atmospheric chemistry?

Indian automaker Tata today unveiled the “People’s Car,” an inexpensive, compact designed to bring automotive travel to the masses in the developing world. The car, which is only three meters long and costs about US$2,500, is great news in the fight against global poverty. Increased vehicular traffic makes it easier to move goods and services, and thereby accelerate economic growth.

So the People’s Car is great for human welfare, right? Not according to the enviros, who fret about the increase in greenhouse gas emissions if billions of the world’s citizens were able to own a car. Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that climate change expert R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the joint Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently said the idea of the People’s Car bringing motoring to a genuinely mass market in India was giving him “nightmares”.