How Carpooling Helped Beat the Nazis

Side by side World War II propaganda posters, one saying if you ride alone you ride with Hitler and the other encouraging riders to carpool and help win the war

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

This is why I love old war posters.
World War II meant what wars often mean: shortages. Americans were stuck on food and gas rations. And because this is America, the government put positive spin on the whole thing — "Don't worry about food rations, grow cabbage! That'll show the Nazis!" and such.

Carpool Propaganda Posters

In another such effort, the 1940s government made propaganda posters to encourage people to carpool. That way, the country could give less fuel to regular people and use more in tanks and other war-winning devices. Accordingly, these posters had no wishy-washy "It's a nice thing to do!" messaging. The government took fuel seriously. If you drove alone, you were basically Hitler.

And they weren't just talking about offering a neighbor a ride here or there. One poster recommends joining a "car-sharing club," which sounds like Zipcar without the middleman eating everyone's money. Seriously, can we bring back car-sharing clubs?

Climate Change War Needed

Though World War II is over, humanity is still facing a kind of world war: the war for the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

"Our personal vehicles are a major cause of global warming," pointed out the Union of Concerned Scientists website. "Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all US emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. About five pounds comes from the extraction, production, and delivery of the fuel, while the great bulk of heat-trapping emissions—more than 19 pounds per gallon—comes right out of a car’s tailpipe."

All in all, transportation has a huge impact on the planet.

"In total, the US transportation sector—which includes cars, trucks, planes, trains, ships, and freight—produces nearly thirty percent of all US global warming emissions, more than almost any other sector," continued the concerned scientists.

Individual action helps, but to combat such a global problem, governments need to get involved. Posters like these remind me of times when a government actually got its population to make sacrifices for the greater good.

"I've often thought that to 'win' against [climate change], we need a 'war effort' like the 1940s," wrote one Treehugger commenter.

Perhaps taking carpooling could be part of the battle plan for this war too.