| || Los Angeles, in Southern California, is the second-largest city in the United States in population and area. Los Angeles is a shipping, industrial, communication, and financial center for the western United States and much of the Pacific Basin, and the motion-picture capital of the nation, if not the world. The Los Angeles metropolitan area encompasses 34,000 square miles (88,000 km2) and is connected by a freeway system, which is increasingly unable to accommodate the growing traffic. The tremendous number of vehicles, coupled with the geographic position of the city, creates unhealthily high levels of smog. A light-rail system and bus transporation do little to alleviate the highway congestion. One-quarter of the energy produced globally is absorbed by the transport sector. Transportation accounts for half of world petroleum consumption, which has expanded sevenfold in fifty years. This sector is responsible for nearly a fourth of carbon dioxide emissions and is thus among the chief sources of greenhouse gas emissions, which lead in turn to global warming. It is possible, however, that the petroleum era may be coming to a close, succeeded by the age of hydrogen, a clean fuel extracted from water, which can be used in engines equipped with a fuel-driven battery.
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