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NOx-ious shit all around.

Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, September 25th, 2015 - 109 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, corruption, Environment, Ethics, health, quality of life, science, Social issues, spin, Tobacco, transport, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , , , , ,

German car manufacturer Volkswagen have gamed pollution tests. Turns out their ‘clean green’ diesels are anything but. The Guardian reckons that the nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from the diesel cars produced by just this one company could equate to the cumulative emissions of NOx from all of the UK power stations, industry, road vehicles and agriculture combined.

A big deal? Well, yeah. In studies for just one city, London, NOx pollution has been linked to some 9 500 premature deaths over the course of a year. That matters. By way of comparison smoking was reckoned to have caused around 8 500 premature deaths in London in 2010.

VW aren’t some rogue company or a ‘bad apple’ spoiling the barrel. It would appear that all manufacturers have been gaming performance tests. In other studies, car models from every single major car manufacturer were found to emit far greater levels of NOx in real world conditions (average x7) than they did under test conditions and to fail EU regulations.

Globally, there are 46 manufacturers of diesel road vehicles. So add their impact on top of whatever damage is being caused by VW. Putting aside heavy construction and off-road vehicles, we’re looking at the diesel proportion of some 1.2 billion road vehicles across the world.

This particular group of pollutants aren’t a climate change or global warming issue. If anything, some nitrogen oxides may have a slight cooling effect, but they are a major and hitherto hidden serious public health issue.

So given that NOx are a major contributor to air pollution and that air pollution kills more of us than malaria and HIV/Aids combined; and given that in certain conurbations NOx kills more of us than smoking tobacco ever did – then where are the public health service announcements demonising our habit for driving, and calling for us as a society to rid ourselves of this huge scourge on our health and well-being?

After writing this post, I came across one depressing answer to that question. There is a testing regime for CO2 emissions from vehicles – the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). It was to be redrafted. The reason for the redraft is that the WLTP is riddled with loop-holes manufacturers use, allowing them to publish test scenario emissions that can be up to 20% below real world emission scenarios. The governments of Germany, France and the UK lobbied for the loopholes to be preserved.

109 comments on “NOx-ious shit all around. ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Market failure. Again. The way criminals keep rising to the top almost looks deliberate.

    • save NZ 1.1

      +100 OAB and Bill

      I would like to see lobbyists banned from influencing politicians. That it is a crime.

      The world has gone completely crazy because politicians need money to win, and they need lobbyists to provide it.

      The people seem irrelevant especially with the MSM increasingly influencing elections and being globally run by the same people.

      People should have the right to a reasonable level of information from MSM. At the moment they just print whatever anyone pays them the most to print or has the influence or their own political slant.

      • greywarshark 1.1.1

        Another way to cut lobbyists off at the knees, or the need for them. Set an allowance for political parties for advertising promotion and adhere to it. It would save so much money and make the playing field leveller.

        And we want things leveller – bringing top salaries down to only x40 the minimum wage etc! At present those with the most, get the most, in advertising, PR, everything.

        • NZJester 1.1.1.1

          What we need to cut some lobbyists off at the knees is a limit on the maximum amount of anonymous donations a political party can receive,
          When it comes to lobbyists the National party found a way to game that system and keep the bulk of the political donations they receive anonymous. The National party has the biggest bulk of anonymous political donations of all the political parties in New Zealand. The policy makers they are chatting to would know who is donating all the money but use the trick of those filling out the official forms not knowing so that they can legally claim the donations are Anonymous. Their cabinet clubs are nothing more than a way to hide large lobbyists payments for policy changes.
          We can not tell for instance if the government might have received any lobby money from Serco. Serco could have sent people to cabinet clubs and put it through their books as business dinners. We can not tell just how much money Sky City might be giving to the government as they could have sent people to cabinet clubs and put it through their books as business dinners also.
          There is to much anonymous lobbyist money in the National parties war chest right now.

    • Sabine 1.2

      You sure its a failure?
      Is this not how the market is supposed to work. Only the fittest survive, and if they have to steal, lie, plunder, make up shit to do so they will.

      Or is it a failure of the people buying this shit, knowing full well that we need to stop using cars, that the single transport aka the car is outdated and needs to be replaced with truly clean transport methods.

      Nah, people buy this stuff to feel good about themselves while still polluting like crazy, but at least they pollute ‘green’.

      Its a bit like drinking soy milk instead of dairy, cause animals…..despite the fact that the process to create soy milk is horrifying, and we knock down forrests to grow that shit. But it makes one feel good….see I do my think to safe the orangutan.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1

        Well, according to the right wing parrot chorous, no “good” company “would” act this way, It doesn’t make sense to kill your customers, they’d probably add.

        What they fail to grasp is government’s role in plucking out the weeds, and the pernicious influence of money in politics.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1.1

          What they fail to grasp is government’s role in plucking out the weeds, and the pernicious influence of money in politics.

          They don’t fail to grasp it at all. IMO, they either ignore it or try to hide it.

      • Bill 1.2.2

        I don’t think of it as a failure. This is the market at work.

        If there is any failure, it’s on the part of governments that are, at least theoretically, meant to buffer society from some of the more deleterious fall-outs of market activity.

        That major European governments have been happy to put private profit before public health by lobbying to keep testing regimes lax is fucking unconscionable but, as ‘just saying’ comments, not surprising.

        Insofar as New Zealand has no significant car industry, and is therefore free from any pressure from auto industry lobbyists, I look forward to the imminent government announcement banning diesel engines from our inner cities.

        Public health concerns have led to bans on coal and wood burners across the country’s urban areas – so hey.

        • Ron 1.2.2.1

          What I thought was odd is a VW spokesperson saying it did not affect NZ as NZ does not have any regulations on vehicle emissions. Is that correct? and if it is why the hell don’t we have similar controls to other western countries

          • Bill 1.2.2.1.1

            Hang on. A Volkswagen spokesperson reckons that NOx emissions will have no effect on NZ because NZ has no regulations covering NOx emissions? That’s okay then. Now if only the rest of the world would abandon their regulatory frameworks, there’d be no health repercussions anywhere! But then why stop at NOx? What about Agent Orange….or radiation…or, well…anything really?

          • Paul Campbell 1.2.2.1.2

            This of course why NZ needs California style emissions testing – and that 800 number so one can DOB in that smoky bus, or guy who needs new rings

            When we moved back to NZ from California we bought a Prius, not because of fuel efficiency but because of the clean emissions, I find I keep having to explain that to people who think I should know how much I use and want to argue upstream energy costs

            • Thom Pietersen 1.2.2.1.2.1

              Dude, the holistic environmental impact of a Prius is disgusting. I say this as an engineer – you guys have really been sucked in. An overweight PoS hauling around 2 motors.

              I beat you 10 times over running a 1982 Land Rover versus the residual energy input from manufacture and rare earth mining etc. for a new vehicle every 5 to 7 years.

              Healthwise yes – your car is nice to NZ’ers, not so to Africans etc.

              Btw, I bike to work, so happy to follow your car, but. And it’s a big one:

              All old cars don’t comply, therefore build new efficient ones (green, green) – sell this to the public, and in the background, here’s another way to maintain growth.

              Nuff said,

              • Jones

                +100 When you add the environmental impact from manufacture and resource extraction… I suspect a lot of technology touted as “green” is more autumnal in colour.

              • Frank Grimes

                “Dude, the holistic environmental impact of a Prius is disgusting. I say this as an engineer – you guys have really been sucked in.”

                No, you’re the one who’s been sucked in by propaganda. The environment impact of a Prius is lower than that of normal cars on a lifecycle basis.

                http://www.environment.ucla.edu/media/files/BatteryElectricVehicleLCA2012-rh-ptd.pdf

                “I beat you 10 times over running a 1982 Land Rover versus the residual energy input from manufacture and rare earth mining etc. for a new vehicle every 5 to 7 years.”

                As per the lifecycle analysis above, the overwhelming majority of any car’s environmental impact, hybrid or not, is inflicted in operations, not manufacturing. That means running your 1982 Land Rover is far, far worse for the environment than building iteratively more efficient cars every 7 years.

                Remember, the average car burns its own weight in fuel every year of its life. That’s its own weight in resources that need to be extracted, refined, shipped around the world, and burned. By comparison, the environmental impact of manufacturing the car itself is insignificant.

                Get your facts straight before you go pointing out nonexistent holes in the logic of others.

                • Thom Pietersen

                  Fuck off Frank – you’re a typical wanker on these things.

                  That paper is full of ‘assumptions’ – who commissioned it? California Air Resources Board. Noting CARB – is about air quality not holistic environmental welfare, likewise why we have the European Diesel crisis – this is policy driven, not science – this was part of my point. The paper is not properly referenced – so to me it means shit

                  “A 2004 analysis by Toyota found that as much as 28 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated during the lifecycle of a typical gasoline-powered car can occur during its manufacture and its transportation to the dealer”

                  I admit this is just alternative internet wank, but it’s my choice to provide unreferenced bollocks like you.

                  “Remember, the average car burns its own weight in fuel every year of its life. That’s its own weight in resources that need to be extracted, refined, shipped around the world, and burned. By comparison, the environmental impact of manufacturing the car itself is insignificant.”

                  What a load of utter shit – do you understand energy density? You fucking cock!

                  Nothings that simple – did you know that shipping with old high sulphur heayv oils actually may have contributed to atmospheric cooling due to cloud creation from exhaust particulates- not saying on balance that’s right combined with CO2 – but it’s the truth

                  But the point is, to self smug jerks like you, is you are basically full of shit, I bike to work every day, the lump of old shit I own picks up the shopping in the weekends and takes us on holiday. Much cleaner than a 7 year car, you fuckwit.

                  So get your ‘facts’ straight arsewipe.

                  • Frank Grimes

                    “That paper is full of ‘assumptions’ ”

                    Don’t like that paper? Then go look at the Argonne National Laboratory’s paper (http://www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/378.PDF). Their directional conclusion is the same. And if you don’t like THAT, well, how about you cite something that backs your point, instead of lobbing substance-free insults?

                    “The paper is not properly referenced – so to me it means shit”

                    Are you illiterate? Their works cited list is Pages 25 to 27. Just because you are incapable of finding their references list, doesn’t mean it’s not properly referenced.

                    “What a load of utter shit – do you understand energy density? You fucking cock!”

                    Are you even actually an engineer? If you were, you would understand basic math.

                    The 2016 Corolla has a curb weight of 2,800 pounds, and a combined fuel efficiency rating of 32 MPG. At 15,000 miles per year, it burns 468.75 gallons of fuel per year. Given that a gallon of gasoline weighs 6.3 pounds, it consumes 2,953 pounds of gasoline per year. Therefore, the average passenger car does, in fact, burn its own weight in fuel every year.

                    You think shipping a Prius’ individual components around is comparable to moving around the sheer mass of gasoline needed to run a car over its life? If you really are an engineer, then I pray you have never worked on anything I have ever touched in my life.

                    “But the point is, to self smug jerks like you, is you are basically full of shit”

                    You’re the one resorting to insults and personal attacks when your case has been completely devastated by facts. Give it up – the harder you struggle against the facts, the more you will look like a fool.

        • weston 1.2.2.2

          may as well ban inner cities then bill and have done with it !

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.3

        despite the fact that the process to create soy milk is horrifying, and we knock down forrests to grow that shit.

        1. One wonders what is so terrifying about this process.
        2. We’ve knocked down large swaths of our forest to grow cows and other farming. From about 80% coverage before humans got here to around 30% now.

        Now, I happen to agree that we should stop cutting down forest and should be replanting large amounts of them. To do that though we have to find other ways to produce food for the population first. I’m in favour of vertical farming with cities becoming close to an entire closed ecosystem and requiring very little input from the natural environment which would thus allow us to let the land return to a natural state.

  2. just saying 2

    Thanks Bill.
    Interesting. I wish it was surprising.

  3. dukeofurl 3

    name one person who dies because of vehicle air pollution.
    I understand its a sort of minor contributing factor for those who are all ready having a shorter life expectancy because of other illness.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Name one? Out of 9.5k? To what purpose?

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        Because there arent any , is the purpose of the comment. Life expectancy has been increasing , especially for those who get to 60, even as cars numbers ( and diesels have been increasing faster)
        To pick out a number of deaths is definitely misleading as the research says shortened life based on a computer model for those born in 2010 and have a lifetime.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1

          Carcinogenicity of diesel-engine and gasoline-engine exhausts and some nitroarenes. Lancet Oncology 2012.

          Computer models, animal testing, real world studies involving miners. etc etc…

          • dukeofurl 3.1.1.1.1

            There is no doubt lives are shortened by breathing small particles. Coal miners are a definite occupational group, but city dwellers ?
            Coal miners would definitely have pneumoconiosis listed as primary cause of death, would anybody who lives in a city have the car emissions version on their death certificate ?
            pathologists can definitely see the difference between a city dwellers lung and a person with a lifetime in the country, but caused their death ?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1.1.1.1

              As noted by The Lancet, the study of mine workers was especially influential:

              This study provides some of the strongest evidence of an association between exposure to diesel-engine exhaust and lung cancer since there were few potential confounding exposures in these underground mines, and high diesel exposures were well documented in current surveys.

    • dukeofurl 3.2

      The specifics seem to be based on these sort calcs

      Table E2 Average loss of life-expectancy for those born in 2010, exposed to 2010 concentrations for a lifetime
      Anthropogenic PM2.5 ( very small exhaust particles)

      Male average loss of life expectancy Around 9.5 months (294 days)
      Female average loss of life expectancy Around 9 months (270 days)

      NO2 (less certain) (30% overlap with PM2.5)
      Male :Up to around 17 months (515days)
      Female:Up to around 15.5 months (468days)

      http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/HIAinLondon_KingsReport_14072015_final_0.pdf Page 10

      So we have a sort of ‘projection’ for those born in 2010 and subject to a lifetime of vehicle exhaust at 2010 levels, there is an ‘estimate’ that their life will be shortened by ‘around’ 500 days.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1

        Other studies discuss the increased rate of lung cancer and your point is?

        • dukeofurl 3.2.1.1

          So thats your reply ?. A question that cant be answered. Just get to YOUR point man. I get you dont ‘like it’ but specific details please, not a side shuffle about nothing.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.1.1

            I’m making the same point as McFlock at 3.3.

            • dukeofurl 3.2.1.1.1.1

              My answer is unlike pneumonia which we breathe in , no one dies from Nox from vehicle emissions, A prediction for the next 60s years about shortened lives (1% over a lifespan) is not a clinical cause of death.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                I too am somewhat mystified about the distinction between shortening someone’s life and killing them. I expect I’m just unsophisticated.

              • McFlock

                No.
                The clinical cause of death would be SUDI, or some manner of respiratory tract infection (even pneumonia) exacerbated by the environmental air pollution.

                A bit like how there are external cause codes for “transport: vehicle occupant” or “falls” and “alcohol” but not one for “stupidity”, which some would argue is the undocumented root cause.

      • greywarshark 3.2.2

        When looking at deaths from pollution as compared to a base of normality the figures can get confusing.

        Christchurch in its efforts to reduce polluting smoke hanging over them from the inversion effect they have, put pollutants from cars much lower than those from fires. The same applied in Nelson. The death rate was higher in winter when PM10s I think, were higher. Fires produced more PM10s than vehicles. The increase in death rates was measured by those who were estimated to die six months earlier than they would have in normal conditions, if I remember rightly.

        I think people older than 75 should have been excluded because I think they skewed the findings, and indeed they were the most affected. But cold itself can be a triggering factor in winter, and aged people do die, it’s a known fact. And they are vulnerable as the body loses strength and health.

        So a lot of figures about effects on humans are based on assumptions, moveable criteria, projections. We need to remember that when looking at crisp numbers – based on what type of research measures?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.2.1

          Many types of research measures, as cited above.

        • dukeofurl 3.2.2.2

          The English are famously affected by the cold, London having more deaths directly related to cold weather than Moscow. They just dont keep warm when outside and otherwise reasonably healthy people practically drop dead waiting for the train or walking back from the pub.

          The numbers given by Bill are ‘projections’ for those born in 2010 and if conditions stay the same through their lifetime. And we are talking some months of what on average these days are fairly long lives ( which in reality may be longer in 60 years from now), thats if obesity doesnt get them first.

          What is certain that you will die, and if you live longer than its more likely to be multiple causes and from just being ‘old’

    • McFlock 3.3

      You’re confusing population health with individual health.

      You might as well ask us to name one person who died because of smoking – impossible to do. Even the most associated risk (but not the biggest risk) of smoking – lung cancer – is not 100% able to guarantee that “Jim’s cancer was caused by smoking”.

      But people die early. Without reading the report, let’s say that you are right that your cited paper says an average of 500 days, overall. But some of those will have died one day before they would have died from other causes, while a few poor kiddies would be dead before school age when they would otherwise have lived long and productive lives. And no, we will never know who is who – but do we need to know their names to give a shit?

      • dukeofurl 3.3.1

        I would rule out killing a few kiddies before school age, after all coalminers who are the extreme example, and it can be clinically checked out dont drop dead after 6 months down the mine. It seems to be a slow degenerative thing

          • dukeofurl 3.3.1.1.1

            The medical effect is related .

            The Kings college study that Wikipedia is about doesnt say this at all:
            “5,900 deaths were the result of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced by diesel engines”
            I had the detail saying it was a projection for 60 years ahead based on an estimate of up to 6 months shorter life expectancy.

            The Sids and NOx was just a data dredge (Sids Linked to Nitrogen Dioxide Pollution) and didnt have any clinical data. It could be tobacco smoke or many other ’causes of Sids’. The correlation is usually marginal.
            There is no smoking gun like tobacco smoking and lung cancer, where the link was massive and clinically collaborated.

            • McFlock 3.3.1.1.1.1

              lol
              “just a data dredge”.

              And hiroshima was hit by “just” one bomb.
              What do you mean it didn’t have any clinical data? What data did it “dredge” – botanical data? And when you say “the correlation is usually marginal”, what level of statistically-significant correlation do you no longer regard as worthy of your attention? There are a few papers there that “dredge” different data.

              Your distinction between lung cancer/tobacco and death/NO2air pollution is sweet, but stupid. Both are statistically significant, and indeed smoking in public is probably less harmful to others than running a VW engine, even after the corrected emmission tests.

              • dukeofurl

                Its got nothing to do what I consider worthy, you know its marginal data, when it hasnt been found everywhere else people look. Likely someone in NZ had looked hard for this as well. Zero zilch.

                Its along the lines of research that may ‘discover’ eating moderate amounts of beetroot increases macular degeneration or some such.

                The reality is that NOx and SIDs would be a big bombshell if there was more than a marginal association in some guys computer software.
                Researchers everywhere would be all over this and expanding even the limited epidemiological data, plus clinical research for this specific factor would increase many many times.

                There is no concrete physiological mechanism been discovered.

                A large amount of non-protein nitrogen, in the form of urea and ammonium, is present in human breastmilk, so do you even look at forms of nitrogen that come from cars.
                the big picture is often contradictory, code for very marginal levels of correlation.

                • McFlock

                  Oh bollocks, it’s been replicated several times in the last 20 years. And when you say “marginal association”, do you mean that there is no association beyond statistical noise (false, that’s the point of this study, the californian study, and a canadian study I found with five seconds of googling), or do you mean that not enough deaths are associated for you to care?

                  Why are you bringing up urea? Why not just point out that 80% of air is nitrogen and then hope like fuck that all nitrogen compounds all behave in exactly the same way regardless of other chemicals they might also include?
                  Two guys walked into a bar. One said “I’d like a glass of H2O” and had a refreshing glass of water. The other said “I’d like an H2O, too” and died a painful death.

                  There is no concrete physiological mechanism been discovered.
                  And the tobacco industry insisted that there was no proven link between smoking and lung cancer.

                  The reality is that NOx and SIDs would be a big bombshell if there was more than a marginal association in some guys computer software.

                  Yeah, we might see studies around the world associating environmental air pollution (including NO2) with different causes of mortality (including SIDS). And then we’d see concern about emissions of NO2, including in cars. And the concern might be significant enough for vehice manufacturers to start gaming the emissions tests. /sarc

            • McFlock 3.3.1.1.1.2

              btw, this seems to be the Kings College study.

              Where was the bit that led you to say “I had the detail saying it was a projection for 60 years ahead based on an estimate of up to 6 months shorter life expectancy”?

        • Tricledrown 3.3.1.2

          Dukeoferl bit like your Spin ,slowly degenerating into Methane from the BS .
          Hope you get paid for your lies.
          At least everyone at VW is shameful its managers could undermine its reputation in such a contemptible manner.
          Your making a pigshead of yourself taking all the emissions from the right wing spin merchants.
          Were you in the same club in Oxford.

          • dukeofurl 3.3.1.2.1

            Tell me how to people get killed by NOx ? Is it like pneumonia which you breathe in too and suddenly you are dead ?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.4

      Air pollution killing hundreds in Auckland – report
      Vehicle emissions kill 400 a year

      It’s actually quite shocking to think that so many people die prematurely as a result of vehicle emissions: more than the average annual road-toll actually. Yet while we spend an enormous sum on road policing and engineering improvements to make our roads safer, it seems that little if any effort goes into reducing vehicle emissions.

      • Bill 3.4.1

        Thanks for providing links of local relevance there DTB.

      • dukeofurl 3.4.2

        vehicle emissions dont kill people at all. Its an estimated shortening of their life, maybe a few months, however life expectancy is increasing , so its not a critical factor.

        No one dies because they lived in a city.

        Pneumonia kills people and yet it too is in the air we breathe.!

        • McFlock 3.4.2.1

          Life expectancy is increasing because we’re addressing the issues that shorten it.

          I’m really not sure what your point is. The distinction between “shortening someone’s life” and “killing them” seems to be a bit obscure for me.

          • dukeofurl 3.4.2.1.1

            What is the clinical cause of death is specifically related to NOx emissions ?
            There isnt one ?

            Smoking for long periods leads to lung cancer which does kill you and its a specific cause of death. The numbers are there.

            What is the clinical method whereby NOx will directly kill you ?
            The research merely says it shortens life expectancy. Which is a statistic.
            Statisically a few months shorter life ( say 1% of your life) is a big difference.

            Is that not too obscure for you.
            In other words they never said 9500 were killed by NOx ( neither did Bill , he said they were “linked” to a shorter life expectancy, which is true)

            • One Anonymous Bloke 3.4.2.1.1.1

              Carcinogenicity of diesel-engine and gasoline-engine exhausts and some nitroarenes.

              You’ll need a (free) subscription to The Lancet to see the full text…

              These epidemiological studies support a causal association between exposure to diesel-engine exhaust and lung cancer.

              • dukeofurl

                What does ‘casual association’ mean.

                is that the same as ‘will kill you ‘?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Look again. It doesn’t say casual.

                  • dukeofurl

                    Good catch: causal

                    Plus there is that other weasel word ‘support’, usually in medical terms that means unproven.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Oh dear. Science 101: Mathematics deals in proof, medicine, not so much. cf: Einstein, As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

            • McFlock 3.4.2.1.1.2

              Ok, let’s really cut this down:
              Lung cancer is the cause of death.
              Additional contributory causes of death can also be included in the paperwork.
              Smoking for long periods is incredibly strongly associated with lung cancer according to “data dredges”.
              There are also plausible biological mechanisms demonstrated in labs using cell and animal models that demonstrate smoking can cause cancer, including lung cancer.
              However, putting “smoking” on a death certificate even as a contributory cause, even for a heavy smoker with no other obvious risk factors, would still be a gamble.

              The research simply says that smoking shortens life expectancy by 25-odd years. The only way to say with certainty that smoking killed someone is if they choked to death on a cigarette butt they drew back too sharply on – and even then the company would call it “improper use” to avoid culpability.

              Basically, you’re running the same lines about environmental NO2 pollution that tobacco companies ran about tobacco, and that asbestos companies ran about asbestos, and so on.

              There are a number of respiratory conditions that can be caused and aggravated by environmental air pollution, including particulates, NO2, CO, SO-whatever and so on. Name a LRTI/URTI and you’ll generally find that air pollution aggravates the problem. Which is why the “data dredges” found a clear association between air pollution and deaths.

              • dukeofurl

                Trouble is Im not saying any of that !
                Im agreeing with Bill, that car emissions are linked with shortened life expectancy.
                I dont know what lines tobacco companies ran, but cigarettes led directly to my mothers death.

                Th data dredge was about SIDs and NOx concentrations, the connection is very very weak and not backed by post mortems or clinical data ( like you can do with a lung cancer death)
                The data dedgers just play with abstract data and run it through a desk top stats program to see if it makes the grade to be published , and then on to the next thing. Junk science usually done with some sort of food scare.

                • McFlock

                  A post mortem can determine the cause of death as being lung cancer, or pneumonia.

                  It cannot tell you whether that cancer was caused by smoking, nor can it tell you whether the pneumonia was made worse by environmental air pollution.

                  What “data dredging” CAN do is demonstrate that lung cancer is 90% attributable to smoking, or that X number of people die as air pollution by NO2 increases by Y parts per million, both within a certain level of confidence.

                  Both clinical data and epidemiological data work together with experimental data to provide a full picture of what’s going on.

                  Post mortems by themselves do not always answer all the questions of what caused the cause of death.
                  .

  4. RedLogix 4

    The VW ‘crisis’ revolves around an engine which has been replaced by a better version in 2016.

    If you look at the latest generation of Euro-6 engine, especially those produced by Peugeot and Renault, that use a urea additive (called AdBlue) the NOx results are excellent and do meet the standard in real-life testing. These engines have three stages of pollutant reduction, the first oxidises any remaining unburnt fuel and carbon monoxide, the second uses the urea injection into something called a SCR reactor to reduce the NOx by about 90%, and the final stage captures the particulates.

    In fact in many city driving scenarios these diesel engines emit cleaner air than they are ingesting.

    VW were caught a generation behind the technology and conspired with an ambiguous and politicised testing regime to game the system until they caught up. Which in fact they have now done on their 2016 models.

    What no-one is saying is that the Euro-5 and Euro-6 diesel car engines are still pretty small beer in terms of total NOx compared to the amount belched by the fleet of trucks, buses and light utilities in our cities.

    The lack of transparency is going to hurt VW badly for a few years, but as much as the Americans would like it, Europe’s largest car-maker isn’t going to go away. And the American hysteria is especially rich considering the lamentable fuel efficiency of their vehicle fleet.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Given that all the manufacturers have been fudging results (see link in the OP) how can VW be said to have “caught up”?

    • Bill 4.2

      Couple of things. As per a link in the post – it ain’t just VW. All major car manufacturers have diesels that exhibit huge discrepancy between test and real world results.

      The urea injection increases CO2 emissions if they are injected at anything other than ‘optimum’ running conditions. That appears to be why VW had it’s software programmed to switch the urea injection on only when the car was running to test conditions. (btw and somewhat facetiously – where is the urea top-up nozzle and where the hell do diesel owners buy their urea from and how often does it need topped up?)

      The NOx produced by the 11 million diesel VW s = the total of all NOx emissions from UK power stations, road transport and agriculture combined. That’s in the post too – and it just ain’t ‘small cheese’. (edit to add – about 50% of new cars in Europe – could be just the UK, I don’t have time to check – are diesel)

      You have a link that would claim to conclusively demonstrate or explain the new regime that means VW are now producing diesel engines that are performing in line with their advertising?

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        Try reading the actual report linked to:

        http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/Dont_Breathe_Here_report_FINAL.pdf

        The topic is more complex than the simplified hysteria in the media.

        I tried to find more information on the vehicles actually tested, but in the time I have available I’ll make do with this:

        http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/carmakers-failure-infographic.pdf

        Note carefully that it mentions the makers who failed, but by implication both Peugeot (who pioneered passenger car diesel technology) and Renault are not, therefore would appear to meet the standard. And both of these companies sell around 50% of their cars with diesels.

        My argument is simple; the technology to meet the current Euro-6 standards exists and is proven in real-life testing. And given the 20-30% lower CO2 emissions of diesel engines – the anti-diesel hysteria in the media is overblown and probably has an agenda.

        • Bill 4.2.1.1

          I’ll try to find a comprehensive list of makers.

          In the meantime, what hysteria? Most of what I’ve read is focusing on the likely financial repercussions for VW shareholders ffs. Oh – and trying to suggest that “it’s just VW – bad apples, nothing to see here folks. Carry on shopping”

          The final para in your comment flies directly in the face of the executive summary of the report you re-linked to. In short – the testing regime is a farce that allows for enhanced results to be palmed off as real world results. As for the on-road (real world) testing

          Euro 6 regulations requiring cars to be tested under “normal driving conditions” were adopted in 2007 but the real – world driving emissions (RDE) tests in which portable emissions monitoring systems (PEMS) measure the actual pollution emitted from the exhaust have still not commenced.

          • dukeofurl 4.2.1.1.1

            Are Serco doing the testing for the government ?

            i was half joking but there is a “Sercovam” which does !!

            We were supposed to have some sort of testing for WOF but not sure national continued it ?
            “After two years of lobbying government, Auckland Regional Council today congratulated the Government on its decision to introduce nationwide mandatory vehicle emissions testing as part of the Warrant of Fitness from 2006.”

        • Bill 4.2.1.2

          I imagine this is what you’re looking for http://www.theicct.org/sites/default/files/publications/ICCT_NOx-control-tech_09032015.pdf

          Neither Renault, Fiat nor Toyota have released a ‘Euro 6’ model. (That doesn’t account for Peugeot though)

          Anyway. That report is dated Sept 2015. All vehicles fail EU NOx emission standards. (I think the ‘best’ performance was Mazda)

          • RedLogix 4.2.1.2.1

            Yes I read that report but while it was interesting and relevant, it didn’t drill into the manufacturer specific information I was looking for. But it’s a good link for clarifying the various technologies being explored in this area.

            I know it’s a manufacturers website, but here’s a good description of how Peugeot have tackled the issue:

            http://www.peugeot.co.uk/bluehdi/

            Also not every manufacturer has been running scared of real-life testing:

            http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/psa-peugeot-citroen-leads-calls-tougher-emissions-test-procedures

            And Renault do seem to have an engine ready:

            http://www.caradvice.com.au/271536/renault-reveals-new-1-6-litre-twin-turbo-diesel-engine/

            The industry has known for a long time that meeting Euro-6 for diesels was a tough technical and commercial challenge. There is plenty of material on the net detailing the discrepancy between lab and real-life road testing going back some time, so it’s not like the fundamental issue here is a surprise.

            What is surprising is that VW have gamed the system in such a clumsy and ultimately damaging fashion. Did they really think no-one would eventually notice the subterfuge? Or is there more to this story than we have yet to find out?

            • dukeofurl 4.2.1.2.1.1

              The EU has ‘slacker’ requirements than US, be very careful of some manufacturers saying how good they are at this sort of thing.
              Renault of course dont sell in US.

              What is intriguing that China has an unofficial ban on diesel engined passenger vehicles, ( only a few 000 sold) even by a large manufacturer like VW, and their own producers dont go near them.

            • Bill 4.2.1.2.1.2

              All those links, whilst interesting on a technical or engineering front, don’t address the central issue of testing within a regime that’s routinely gamed. I mean, all those performance claims…meh.

              The link on Peugeot calling “for the adoption of tougher, more realistic emissions tests in Europe from 2017, in the wake of the VW emissions scandal.” is kinda rich – and not a little suspect – given that the French government was in cahoots with the UK and German governments in calling for loop-holes in testing to be preserved. (I believe the German government wanted manufacturers to be given a 4% leeway on performance on top of all the other dodgy shit)

              Anyway, I suspect Peugeot are only desperately trying to cover their own arses and are as desperate as the German Vice Chancellor and other politicians and car manufacturers to keep the spotlight solely on VW. I find it difficult to believe that the aforementioned governments weren’t lobbied into their positions by their respective car manufacturers.

              Bottom line. This whole bag of shit is akin to the tobacco industry accepting one particular tobacco company was selling a dodgy product while ‘lily white’ handing their own products out to us beneath silky words coming from mouths full of butter… if you get my angle.

              • RedLogix

                Well the icct.org document Bill linked to above that details the testing does state that the SCR (Selective Catalytic Reactor) tech that Peugeot are using is the best performer over the widest range of conditions. (See p14 – 18)

                Plus the other document linked above that lists all the manufacturers who failed real-life testing – notably omits Peugeot and Renault.

                So while I can’t find anything specific to actual independent tests on the French engines just at the moment; given these two snippets – I’d conclude they probably have a tech that works. And if the French are genuinely compliant with Euro 6 – then of course they have every motive to keep clear of the shit.

                Ultimately this entire debacle will accelerate the implementation of realistic testing standards in Europe – and that will be a good thing. As I said above, clearly the issue has been the subject of far too much divisive lobbying – and it’s not all that surprising it’s turned to industrial grade custard.

                • Bill

                  Plus the other document linked above that lists all the manufacturers who failed real-life testing – notably omits Peugeot and Renault.

                  Peugeot and Renault weren’t tested in that particular study. They took the cars from the companies that made up most market share (70%+) and said that Renault hadn’t released any ‘new’ (or whatever) engine at the time.

                  “In 2014, German automakers dominated the Euro 6 diesel passenger car market in the EU. BMW was the manufacturer with the largest market share; about 220,000 ‘euro 6’ BMW diesel cars were sold, capturing 22% of the market. They were followed by Mercedes-Benz (21%), Audi (15%), and Volkswagen (13%). The first non-German manufacturer in terms of market share was Japanese manufacturer Mazda, which captured 7% of the market”

  5. left for deadshark 5

    (ASH) and their cohorts may well turn their attention to this plague, that is spewing masses amounts of toxins into our cities minute by minute and stop badgering the few remanding tobacco users out of our communities.
    Christchurch’s city council has a perfect opportunity too remove fossil fueled vehicles from the CBD for good.

    setting an example to other authorities.

    • McFlock 5.1

      ASH are monomaniacal zealots who don’t give a shit about anything other than smoking. Otherwise they would have lobbied for the imposition of air quality standards in pubs and workplaces, not just anti-smoking.

      • dukeofurl 5.1.1

        Whos anti smoking ?

        Its making other people breathe their highly carcinogenic smoke at work is the problem.

        • McFlock 5.1.1.1

          And yet glycol smoke effects, diesel fumes, solvent fumes, dust levels, and even air recirculation/venitlation are largely ignored beyond levels of immediate harm.

          Your worry about tobacco smoke blinds you to everything else that could have been addressed at the same time.

  6. One Two 6

    The list of industry which hard and soft kills, is unfathomable to most people

    The challenge would be to find an industry which is not on the killers list

    Fudging and lying about the quality of the product while overselling the positive and underselling the negative effects – That is the market at work

    • McFlock 6.1

      yep, 100%

    • Thom Pietersen 6.2

      Us by living in this population boom are soft killing, via everything you and I purchase to live.

      That’s how we got here with this issue, but the company that sells you bananas does the same thing.

      Idealised stupid targets by governments to placate the worrying classes created this mess, because. Its based on bad science.

      Get on your bike, make the car companies irrelevant.

  7. Wayne 7

    As a VW Passat Diesel car owner, I have been rather surprised by this scandal.

    VW goes to huge lengths in their marketing to show how good they are on environmental issues. I, along with millions of others, generally believed them. After all my car goes 1300km between refills so that is a very good level of fuel efficiency, and the quality of the car overall is a testament to their engineering excellence.

    So VW now has a huge rebuilding task to regain trust among its customers, but it is not totally destroyed.

    Unlike the writer of this article (and the commenters) I do not think VW is a venal company interested only in profit above all else. Their overall reputation, their style of management and labour relations, and their commitment to the quality of their products over many decades does not bear this out.

    • tc 7.1

      Money talks so a period of new vehicle discounting with a new gen engine and a ‘Vee are so so sorry about dat look here’s a panda etc’ campaign and jobs done.

      I can imagine the marketing folk salivating at the challenge already

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2

      Which remarks in the OP speak to Bill’s belief about VW’s venality? Is that your pig you’re fucking Dr. Mapp?

    • Lucy 7.3

      Was this not the firm that made cars with slave labour during WW2 for which they never paid a price. They do not have and have never had a commitment to quality or ethics as far as I can see! The amount of time that was put into the software to get around the testing means that there was an affect on the balance sheet so the CEO must have known – yet he walks away with 157 million!
      Your car may go 1300 km between refills but you need to think how many people you are bringing to premature death because you are not prepared to have a safe mode of transport, just one that cost you less and society more!
      Venal would be the nicest word I would use for this company in the last 60 years they have proved to be untrustworthy and corrupt!!!

    • Tricledrown 7.4

      National pigheaded emission testerone testers.
      VW wouldn’t be so big a car maker if it was honest.
      Or if it hadn’t recieved the benefit of huge corporate welfare of the cash for clangers.
      The Dog and Lemon exposed the fallacy that European cars are reliable.
      Now not only are they less reliable than their propaganda tries to push but they pollute more and cost more to buy maintain insure and run.
      Suckers are born every minute.
      Snobbery ends up with VW committing robbery.

      • Thom Pietersen 7.4.1

        Need to be careful with dog and lemon – it’s not about been stranded in the outback – more I can’t link my iPhone blah blah. Why do you think Toyota tractors perform well – they come with nothing as part of the taxi, rental fleet market. Do you think Toyota sells hybrids to be green? No it’s to align their global emission targets and to offset the profit making large capacity V8 land cruiser diesels.

        Europe generally produces more low capacity forced induction cars – these are much greener but complexity effects service intervals.

        Suckers are born every minute.

        Snobbery ends up with dumb comments.

    • Thom Pietersen 7.5

      And their Nazi origins.

      Remember Germans can be lying bastards like Americans and British etc. etc.

    • Bill 7.6

      Wayne, did you buy that vehicle off the back of some notion that it was going to be ‘lighter’ on the environment?

      • Wayne 7.6.1

        Bill,

        Assuming this is a serious, as opposed to ironic point you are making. The efficiency of the vehicle does matter. The diesel Passat was advertised as extremely fuel efficient and with low emissions. And I was intending to replace it with a new model when I purchase my next car. And at least on fuel consumption it is extremely efficient (typically 5l/100km). Now not so sure about emissions.

        And VW are hardly at the luxury end of the market, being more comparable to Hondas.

    • “I do not think… interested only in profit above all else.”

      yet they did do it for profit or money so your thought may need to be reassessed

      • Wayne 7.7.1

        Marty mars,

        Yes, of course I realize they are in business to make a profit, as indeed are all companies in the marketplace. But VW have had a reputation of producing a well engineered product, and not ripping off consumers.

        The key point I was making is that most people distinguish between firms that act ethically and those that don’t attempt to do so. And at least since post WW2, I would have put VW into the ethical camp.

        Germany’s current economic success is largely built on the commitment of German firms to engineering and technical excellence so that they are typically global leaders in their sectors. Which is why the current scandal is so damaging.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.7.1.1

          Germany’s current economic success is largely built on the commitment of German firms to engineering and technical excellence and other policies that Tories don’t like to talk about.

          A shorter working week, for example. Close ties between labour unions and government. Free education. Strong employment protection. I could go on.

  8. tc 8

    This has echoes of the vehicle recall scenario edward norton’s character in ‘fight club’ discusses.

    If the cost of a recall is greater than settling the likely costs from various legal actions and settlements then keep silent and work your way through the claims as they arise.

    VW knew exactly the true emissions and have already set aside 6.5Bill euros, they’ll ride this out like all the big players do and take the trade off that they’e now virtually #1 along with Toyota on sales and consider the means justifies the ends.

    What a wonderful world !

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      +1

      What VW did should have had them being shut down and their assets nationalised without compensation.

      • weka 8.1.1

        and all other car companies presumably as according to the post they’re all gaming the emissions testing.

        • Tricledrown 8.1.1.1

          Not all other car companies ,other car companies.

          • weka 8.1.1.1.1

            Here’s what the post says, I haven’t followed the links,

            VW aren’t some rogue company or a ‘bad apple’ spoiling the barrel. It would appear that all manufacturers have been gaming performance tests. In other studies, car models from every single major car manufacturer were found to emit far greater levels of NOx in real world conditions (average x7) than they did under test conditions and to fail EU regulations.

          • Bill 8.1.1.1.2

            Yup. Fair point. I should maybe have stuck with ‘all major’ instead of ‘all’, although… if all major companies are gaming shit, I think it’s not unreasonable to extrapolate and write, as I did – ‘It would appear that all’…

      • Tricledrown 8.1.2

        DTB it would be better if they were forced to pay compo and forced to spend money on making non pollutant cars.
        VW is one of the few large car companies that is not investing in electric or hydrogen technology.
        If everyone who owns one of these cars was given their money back plus the wasted fuel that was used by the consumer through the false tests .

        • Thom Pietersen 8.1.2.1

          All manufacturers are probably doing it – and VW is “investing” in hydrogen as much as the others. The problem is infrastructure and the Petrodollar IMHO. You need 500 to 1000 kms per ‘tank’ – and instant usage, i.e. 5 minute charge up. Moan all you like or change your expectations.

          Don’t get me wrong, they’re still Nazi born lying bastards.

          They will be using no more fuel than their competitors (within a few % up or down), and just ’cause you own one you won’t get any money back for believing the German Engineering Superiority bollocks.

          Naive buyer beware – tough!

  9. Gangnam Style 9

    This is marketing laid bare, the weird & surreal launch of a new car a few days ago, its like a Curb Your Enthusium episode http://jalopnik.com/inside-the-most-awkward-volkswagen-party-in-the-world-1732301353

  10. Smilin 10

    Nationalcorp got shares in VW ? sure looks like the same MO
    THEY BOTH GOT CAUGHT DIRTY POLITICS

  11. NZJester 11

    If VW figured out a way to game the emission testing system with a bit of code in their cars do we need to get all the big car companies cars checked to make sure they have not done something similar?
    Instead of fixed position testing in a testing station are we going to need to have mobile testing units that can be strapped to a car while it goes for a real drive and them pull the data off a storage drive for analysis after to see what the real emissions might possibly be?

    • Thom Pietersen 11.1

      Too many variables – engine intake pressure, humidity, air resistance, etc. that why they have to be ‘bench tests’ so you can compare like for like between manufacturers – relates to the real world? Not one bit.

      Who advises on the test criteria, who lobbies? It would be better if these tests gave a blind stack rating for comparable vehicle segments and left the Litres per 100 Kms to car magazine reviews. Maybe.

      • Bill 11.1.1

        My thinking is that suggestion would be fine if what they were testing for – NOx and CO2 (both gamed) – wasn’t kinda crucial to human well being, no?

        • Thom Pietersen 11.1.1.1

          They are (and are required by legislation) – but not in real world conditions.

          Welcome to lawyer world. They got around it with a ‘commissioning mode’ for the bench test – but this still covered NOX and CO2 emissions, albeit delivering a more favorable result.

  12. Tautoko Mangō Mata 12

    See Daily Review Comment 7 for suppressed US auto safety study info.

  13. Mike the Savage One 13

    I never trusted all these boasting claims by various car manufacturers about how low their emissions were supposed to be, and how “green” their cars were meant to be. The recent revelations have proved my suspicion right, and they are almost ALL doing the same. I dare say there is massive cheating in other areas as well, same about the supposed low risk of using mobile phones and so.

    BS is the order of the day when it comes to business, no doubt about that.

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