The only reason the hybrid car exists is to allow auto manufacturers to continue selling grossly wasteful and polluting vehicles to consumers. Because California law requires an overall emissions target and minimum quantity of zero emissions vehicles, a manufacturer has to sell hybrid or electric powered vehicles in order to continue selling large commercial trucks to consumers as toys, and other sins.
Purchasing a hybrid vehicle pays off the owner's conscience in the best American way: with a unique product. The buyer feels a sense of moral superiority, the seller makes some money, and the essential problem continues. It's no wonder the name of the most popular one sounds like "pious."
Buying a hybrid car means buying a new car. Don't buy a new car. It's true that as your hybrid car runs it will put less direct pollutant material in the air and water. It's also true that it will use less gasoline. However, you have just bought a very large machine which was manufactured new. Add up the steel and aluminum, the machining and casting of parts, the chemicals used and dumped, the nonrenewable resources consumed or used to build the car, all the energy used to build a car and carry its materials around, the energy used to move the car around by ship and truck to the dealer, all of it. Making a car is a very top heavy resource-hungry industrial process.
And your car doesn't go away. Unless you have it artfully crushed into a cube as a coffee table, or personally supervise its recycling, your car is sold to another person and stays on the road. And that person's car is sold down the line too, until we arrive at unusable or junked cars, which then go to a graveyard to be broken down. Everything about the car is toxic too, just in case you're curious.
So now you've brought a new car into the world (they'll make more!) and given a nice big fat gut punch to Mother Nature in doing so. Failure.
Keep your old car instead. If it's not so run down that the mileage is shot, and it's passing the emissions tests, it's a better deal for "the planet" and for you also. It is not as demonstrative of your love for the GREEN GAIA to continue with your serviceable older car, but trust me, she appreciates it.
nstead, do things that don't burn fuel, or burn less. If you're physically able, ride a bike more to short drives. Use public transit. Even in Southern Californian Heck, where I live, I can (and now I do) take the train into Los Angeles when I am able.
It will be a great day for this country when Americans can look at a serious problem and do something other than pick up a lifestyle magazine and look for some product guides. Buying things is a terrible solution to so many things.