50 years ago in “l’Obs”: the “green” Auto Show, “pornographic engineering” for Ralph Nader


In the archives of the “Obs”

Which world, which French people, which society told “Le Nouvel Observateur” (which became “L’Obs” in 2014) half a century ago? Every weekend, we offer you an article, interview, report, portrait or letter from readers drawn from our archives.

The car, a blessing for the environment, a fortiori compared to Paris in the 17th centurye century polluted by coach droppings. This is the discourse held at the Auto Show in 1972, which “Le Nouvel Obs” showed Ralph Nader. The author that year of the “Nader Report” (since several times an independent candidate in the American presidential election) on the deceptions of the food industry knew the subject very well: in 1965, he published “These cars which kill”, an accusatory book on the responsibility of car manufacturers in road safety. This bestseller will lead to the obligation of seat belts. At the time, automobile accidents killed 18,000 people a year in France, five times more than now.

In Paris, Ralph Nader denounces, faced with the angelic discourse of the Auto Show (the term “greenwashing” did not yet exist), pollution from cars [qui] produces cancer and emphysema » and the poisoning of the human organism by the lead contained in high-octane fuels, the “super” of the time. He more broadly draws up an indictment:

“The automobile is a perfectly inefficient means of transport. He

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