Automobiles and the Environment


Automobiles have brought us freedom to travel from our homes to work, to shops, schools and other places. The automobile has also helped develop leisure activities and services such as hotels, motels and amusement parks. But it has also brought harm to the environment with the emission of exhaust and the use of land for parking lots. People who do not own cars must rely on buses or other forms of public transportation to get where they want to go. This is not convenient and it takes up a lot of time.

The scientific and technical building blocks for the automobile date back several hundred years to the late 1600s when Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. The modern motorcar was developed by Gottlieb Daimler, Siegfried Marcus and Karl Benz in Germany and France toward the end of the 1800s. These early automobiles used steam, electric power and gasoline (or diesel or kerosene). Electric cars had the advantage of being quiet but they were slow and had limited range. Gasoline powered cars soon won the race.

The large-scale manufacturing methods that Henry Ford introduced revolutionized automobile production. This allowed Ford to lower the price of his Model T so that it could be affordable for middle class families. The car has become so central to American life that it is almost impossible to imagine how we might function without one. Even today, it is important to consider the safety and efficiency of the automobile as we plan for our future.

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