By Tom McCarthy

ISBN-10: 0300158483

ISBN-13: 9780300158489

The twentieth-century American event with the car has a lot to inform us in regards to the dating among customer capitalism and the surroundings, Tom McCarthy contends. In Auto Mania he provides the 1st environmental historical past of the auto that indicates how shopper hope (and producer judgements) created affects around the product lifecycle—from uncooked fabric extraction to production to purchaser use to disposal.

 

From the provocative public antics of younger millionaires who owned the 1st autos early within the 20th century to the SUV craze of the Nineteen Nineties, Auto Mania explores advancements that touched the surroundings. alongside the way in which McCarthy examines how Henry Ford’s fetish for waste relief tempered the environmental affects of version T mass construction; how Elvis Presley’s commonly shared postwar wish for Cadillacs made concerns worse; how the Nineteen Seventies strength predicament harm small autos; and why child boomers neglected concerns approximately international warming.

 

McCarthy indicates that difficulties have been famous early. the trouble was once addressing them, an issue much less of doing medical study and instructing the general public than enforcing strategies via America’s marketplace financial system and democratic executive. buyer and manufacturer pursuits have hardly aligned in necessary methods, and automakers and shoppers have made robust rivals of legislation. the outcome has been a combined checklist of environmental reform with troubling clients for the future.

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Additional resources for Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment

Example text

Thanks to Vander- The Arrogance of Wealth bil t a nd the speeding sportsmen, American automobile buyers by 1904 had de­ cisively chosen gasoline-powered automobiles over electric and steam-powered alternatives. Concerns about gasoline dependence reflected this fact and the growing conservation consciousness among America's technical elite, who ex­ pressed their worries in language virtually indistinguishable from that used to express the same concerns over the next century. 3 Clough had no illusions that it would be easy to convince consumers of the merits of conservation.

Still, they called for regulation, not because scientists or public health authorities had de­ termined conclusively that automobile exhaust harmed people or plant life, but simply because it offended the human sense of smelF0 Many people beyond the editorial offices of Horseless Age shared a willingness to resort to regulation to address smoky exhaust. A number of American cities passed or flirted with passing ordinances directed at the problem. New Yorkers took these efforts furthest. After several years of sporadic protest that smoky auto­ mobiles were ruining the experience of nature in Central Park, reformers circu­ lated petitions in 1908 that successfully pressured the New York City Board of Parks into passing an ordinance that permitted the authorities to expel offending vehicles from the city's parks after 1 August 1908.

This problem could be solved with higher compression-ratio engines, since alcohol could withstand compression of two hundred pounds per square inch, whereas engine "knock;' a pounding, clanking noise, accompanied by overheating, a loss of power, and damage to the engine, occurred in gasoline engines when compression reached about eighty pounds per square inch. Columbia University professor Charles E. Lucke con­ cluded that with high-compression engines, alcohol fuel could sell for double the price of gasoline and still be superior to gasoline-powered vehicles on a cost­ per-mile basis.

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Auto Mania: Cars, Consumers, and the Environment by Tom McCarthy


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