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Environmental effect of the guillotine


“In then-wooded Medieval Europe, people were executed for centuries by the auto-de-fe, i.e., burnt alive on the stake. This spectacular procedure was carried on till the increasing depletion of the forests was recognized…. Taking into account the large number of people executed using the guillotine during the French Revolution, the continued use of auto-de-fe would probably have depleted the remaining forests of Western Europe. The guillotine proved to be an environmentally friendly innovation in France.”

(That’s from “The Ancient and Modern Ecology of Execution,” in AIR 15:4.)

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