QUESTION TYPE: Paradox
PARADOX: Pollution per trip declined, but overall pollution went up.
ANALYSIS: There are some key hints in the stimulus: “per car trip”, “for each trip”. The evidence is talking about the pollution from individual cars. And yet, the conclusion is about overall pollution.
It’s possible that shorter delays led to more people taking trips. This would increase overall pollution even if each individual car pollutes less.
(If you’re curious to learn more about this phenomenon, look up “Jevon’s paradox”. It describes how efficiency gains often lead to more usage, rather than less.)
- This makes the situation more confusing. If there are higher tolls, we would expect fewer drivers and less pollution.
- This tells us hardly anything at all. It’s like saying “Even though crime was dramatically down, there were sometimes murders”. Obviously, there will always be exceptions to a tendency. But it’s the overall tendency we care about. So, the important point is that delays are down, on average.
- CORRECT. Each car pollutes. So, if there are more drivers then this explains why pollution is up, even if per car pollution is down.
- So? Presumably, most highway trips are longer than 18.6 miles. Why else would you be going on the highway?
- “Some” is a misleading word. This could be referring to 2% of drivers. That doesn’t matter. The stimulus is clear that the new system did decrease delays on average. It doesn’t matter whether literally everyone uses it.
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