A lot has been said about the Volkswagen emissions scandal over the past several days. It has the media abuzz and the online community agog, but have you really given a moment’s thought to what there really is to stress about?
The short version is that VW, in cahoots with Robert Bosch, the suppliers of the electronics in question, designed a software mechanism into the system that would alter the given nitrogen oxide output, when the vehicle underwent emissions testing.
The upside of this is that the consumer received a vehicle with performance subject to lesser throttling than what would have been needed for the product to pass the arguably currently realistic regulations – finances and technology availability considered – set by the many regulations in place across the globe. The downside, naturally, is that all concerned, were lied to; and that your diesel-powered VW *may* now lose some value. Considering the fact that their diesel products are proven and loved, this is unlikely, beyond, perhaps, a succint period of community-fronted goodwill.
You may elect to have your car ‘repaired’, in line with the upcoming recall, but how many people do you know who would voluntarily offer up their car for a performance downgrade and an increase in fuel consumption? Not many, I expect.
You may claim to be a child of Mother Nature, intent on hugging every tree that you pass, but unless you purchased a BlueMotion VW, you’re only fooling yourself and BSing us. You bought a diesel for one, or more, of the reasons that most do; the torque, longevity & far superior fuel consumption.
Considering that the scandal broke in the USA, let’s take a look at some facts, to put things into perspective…
The L. A. Times report that approximately 482,000 cars are involved in the scandal, across the expanse of the United States. In contrast, cancer.org state that somewhere in the region of 42 million Americans smoke. That’s about a fifth of the American population.
Nitrogen oxides, the gas at the centre of this debacle, are produced in great quantities by both petrol & diesel engines. If you happen to live near to a gas powerplant, or an area prone to heavy lightning strikes, you’re rich in the supply of NOx too. Lucky you.
Nitrogen dioxide is an irritant gas, which at high concentrations causes inflammation of the airways.
Sounds troubling, but consider this, in contrast…
There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.
Many of these chemicals are also found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.
Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene – used to manufacture paint
Mmmm, that sounds healthy for you.
The odds that you smoke, know someone who does and spend at least some time within proximity to someone who does, are pretty good.
Unless you’re the recipient of a Prozac prescription, you’re unlikely to suck on an exhaust pipe, but most would spend time in a smoke-filled entertainment venue, social setting or probing the tonsils of their ashy-mouthed significant other.
…makes you think, eh?
The evidence against the case for harsh criticism of vehicular emissions diminishes even further when we take a look at the bigger picture, so to speak; the other major components of internal combustion output…
If you’re, as Nature intended, an omnivore, you’re even more harmful to the environment. Your ruminant food is farting; and it’s killing us, slowly but surely. The average car will emit 2.7 tons of methane per year. In stark contrast, the average cow flatulates 4 tons.
The internal combustion engine is a rather efficient producer of carbon monoxide; a byproduct of numerous thermal processes, the major culprit of which takes place in the troposphere.
The natural sources of carbon monoxide predominate (90% of total emissions); the remaining 10% are made up of motor-vehicle emissions (55%), industry (11%) and other emitters (HORN, 1989).
Carbon monoxide is rapidly oxidised, to form carbon dioxide, which is used for photosynthesis.
You could follow the blind Greenies, blindly; selling your diesel VW, in lieu of replacing it with something else, that has passed the tests, whether legally or not, or, you could carry on as-is, oblivious to the political ramblings and selectively bulleted news.
With ever more stringent regulations facing manufacturers, it’s highly unlikely that the Volkswagen group, as a whole, are the only culprits of such engineering. Only time shall tell. Given the past leniency seen with American manufacturers dodging known issues, the severity of the fine issued to VW will be telling.
What is certainly true, is that maintaining your old clunker, despite its fuel consumption, is undoubtedly more environmentally-friendly than any vehicle on the dealers’ floors at present. The cost of getting a new car to market, in terms of the environment, versus any fuel saving your new vehicle, petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid, hydrogen or otherwise, may offer, will only amortise over many more years – likely decades later – than current vehicles are designed to last for.
Hype, opinion or fact, perspective is what brings reasonable understanding to the facts.