From an environmental perspective, the answer is clear: Snowblowers consume fossil fuels that contribute to global warming, while shovels are powered by carbon-neutral human labor.
From a health perspective, the answer is a little more complicated. The strenuous physical effort involved in shoveling can cause heart attacks. For this reason, some people choose the easier task of walking behind a snowblower.
However, the exhaust from snowblowers can also contribute to heart attacks. While the person operating the snowblower gets the heaviest dose of fumes, other people nearby also breathe in the unhealthy exhaust, so their risk of heart attack goes up too.
Similarly, both the person operating the snowblower and other people in the neighborhood are negatively affected by the snowblower’s noise.
What is the most appropriate technology for clearing snow? One part of the answer is to consider how much snow really needs to be cleared. This question will be the topic of the next post.