Automobiles August 31, 2003

In his recent book, Seeds of Wealth: Four Plants that Made Men Rich , Henry Hobhouse defends the automobile as an environmental boon. Reviewing the book in the August 15 issue of the TLS , Paul Levy summarizes Hobhouse’s argument:

In 1900, apart from a few steam and internal combustion-driven experimental omnibuses and cabs, there were 7,000 horse-drawn cabs and 3,000 buses daily, totalling “nearly 40,000 horses at work in London, each emitting 20 litres of solid effluent a day, or more than a quarter of a million tons a year . . . . At least 25 percent of this, or 70,000 tons, was dropped in the street and had to be picked up, largely by hand.” Not to mention the “smelly, high-ammonia urine” and the ozone-layer-damaging methane gas contained in the flatus of 40,000 large herbivores.

I, for one, will take smog any day.

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