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Inventing Pollution Coal, Smoke, and Culture in Britain since 1800 by Peter Thorsheim
  

Inventing Pollution Coal, Smoke, and Culture in Britain since 1800

Part of the Series in Ecology and History Series

Synopsis

Inventing Pollution Coal, Smoke, and Culture in Britain since 1800 by Peter Thorsheim

Britain's supremacy in the nineteenth century depended in large part on its vast deposits of coal. This coal not only powered steam engines in factories, ships, and railway locomotives but also warmed homes and cooked food. As coal consumption skyrocketed, the air in Britain's cities and towns became filled with ever-greater and denser clouds of smoke. In this far-reaching study, Peter Thorsheim explains that, for much of the nineteenth century, few people in Britain even considered coal smoke to be pollution. To them, pollution meant miasma: invisible gases generated by decomposing plant and animal matter. Far from viewing coal smoke as pollution, most people considered smoke to be a valuable disinfectant, for its carbon and sulfur were thought capable of rendering miasma harmless.Inventing Pollution examines the radically new understanding of pollution that emerged in the late nineteenth century, one that centered not on organic decay but on coal combustion. This change, as Peter Thorsheim argues, gave birth to the smoke-abatement movement and to new ways of thinking about the relationships among humanity, technology, and the environment.

Reviews

I have no doubt that Inventing Pollution will remain the best text in its field for many years. - Mark Cioc, author of The Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815-2000 Drawing on an impressive range of source materials, including some excellent photographs, cartoons and advertisements, this concise and clearly-written study explores public understandings of air pollution in Britain over the past two centuries. - Journal of Social History A well crafted and engaging book...Thorsheim demonstrates a level of knowledge about the relevant policies, technologies, and industries that is first rate... Anybody interested in the story of how an industrial society learned to manage its interactions with the physical environment would benefit from reading Inventing Pollution. - Business History Review


About the Author

Peter Thorsheim is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th February 2006

Author

Peter Thorsheim

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Publisher

Ohio University Press

Format

Paperback
320 pages

Categories

Social & cultural history
Industrialisation & industrial history
Pollution & threats to the environment

ISBN

9780821416815

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