Motorized Obsessions

Motorized Obsessions

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From dirt bikes and jet skis to weed wackers and snowblowers, machines powered by small gas engines have become a permanenta€”and louda€”fixture in American culture. But fifty years of high-speed fun and pristine lawns have not come without cost. In the first comprehensive history of the small-bore engine and the technology it powers, Paul R. Josephson explores the political, environmental, and public health issues surrounding one of America's most dangerous pastimes. Each chapter tells the story of an ecosystem within the United States and the devices that wreak havoc on ita€”personal watercraft (PWCs) on inland lakes and rivers; all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in deserts and forests; lawn mowers and leaf blowers in suburbia. In addition to environmental impacts, Josephson discusses the development and promotion of these technologies, the legal and regulatory efforts made to improve their safety and environmental soundness, and the role of owners' clubs in encouraging responsible operation. Synthesizing information from medical journals, recent environmental research, nongovernmental organizations, and manufacturers, Josephson's compelling history leads to one irrefutable conclusion: these machines cannot be operated without loss of life and loss of habitat.Consider the sixty-three-page Tips and Practice Guide for the ATV Rider published by Honda and the ATV Safety Institute. ... But the language of the safety instruction that follows is strangely languid, as in this description of how to avoid being crushed on a steep hill: ... the most experienced operator can do.95 Ownersa#39; manuals, fine print, and voluntary processes cannot do the job of protecting ATV users.

Title:Motorized Obsessions
Author:Paul R. Josephson
Publisher:JHU Press - 2007-08-22


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