Dieselgate Hypocrisy


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Photo Source: tdiclub.com

Unless you have been living under a rock the past week, you definitely have heard of the Volkswagen “Dieselgate” emissions scandal. Everyone is up in arms over the fact that Volkswagen admitted to “cheating” on emissions test. There are two main reasons why people are livid with the German automaker: 1) The fact that VW knew about the emissions problem and lied to the government and the public about their TDI clean diesel technology, and 2) The fact that 11 million cars are polluting the planet a lot more than previously thought. Now being angry because you were lied to is understandable, but being angry that these cars are polluting the air is hypocritical. Let me explain.


Photo Source: thetorquereport.com

Apparently, Volkswagens and Audis with TDI engines had software programmed into them that recognized when emissions test were being performed and subsequently altered the emissions to comply with the test. In the real world however, these cars could produce up to 40x the legal amount of NOx greenhouse gasses.

Obviously this is a problem. Obviously this is bad for the environment. And obviously VW must be held responsible. But the people and self-proclaimed “environmentalists” who are upset about this, yet LOVE electric cars such as Teslas and Nissan Leafs, are hypocritical in that they do not look at the entire picture.


Photo Credit: @jk.automotive

In order to calculate how much a single automobile pollutes the environment, you must not only look at greenhouse gas emissions during the life of the vehicle on the road, but the entire lifetime of the car. This includes extracting the raw materials from the earth, to scrapping and recycling the car when the consumer is done with it.

For example, in order to create the batteries for electric vehicles, lithium must be mined from the earth, which is incredibly tedious and creates a lot emissions from the machinery used to extract it. You must also look at how the electricity is being produced. It would be all fine and dandy if the electricity used to power these EVs were created from renewable resources, such as air or solar, but many of the time they are made using “dirty” methods, think coal and nuclear. It also takes a lot of energy to recycle these batteries, if they can even be recycled at all. Typically, it takes more energy and emissions to create and recycle than conventional “dirty” gasoline and diesel equivalents. All these emissions causing activities used to create “clean” cars are behind the scenes, which means that the average consumer doesn’t even think about it. The consumer just absorbs all the marketing tactics used by the company to sell you on the fact that they are “clean”.

Yes VW lied to everyone about how “clean” their diesel technology is. Yes they deserve to be punished for cheating on a test that is supposedly there in the interest of public safety. But maybe this whole “dieselgate” scandal brings to light the environmental consideration to all vehicles, from production to the life on the road, all the way to recycling the car.


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