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Citizen Engineer: A Handbook for Socially Responsible Engineering by John Boutelle, Greg Papadopoulos, David Douglas

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4. Beyond the Black Cloud: Looking at Lifecycles

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When you’re behind a bus that’s belching black clouds of exhaust, you can’t help but think about the consequences of environmentally insensitive design. It’s easy to be disgusted by what the bus is doing to air quality. It’s also easy to miss the fact that the billowing fumes represent only a tiny fraction of the environmental impact of the bus. It’s harder still to remember that the bus may also have major environmental benefits, despite its obvious eco shortcomings.

Let’s start with the total impact. Think about the individual parts that comprise the bus. Thousands of them, globally sourced from ...

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