Monday, October 05, 2015

"Would you encourage people to avoid driving your cars when possible until the illegal emission problem is fixed?"

The headline above is the question I would love to see asked of VW executives. Unless the fix is quickly enacted in some widespread form (e.g., people are given a cash rebate to bring in their cars quickly) then the health damage VW is causing will continue.

So far, they're saying something problematic:

In a response Saturday night to an earlier request for comment, Volkswagen said the EPA has noted that the affected vehicles do not present a safety hazard and are legal to drive. "General allegations regarding links between NOX emissions from these affected vehicles and specific health effects are unverified. We have received no confirmed reports that the emissions from such vehicles caused any actual health problem," the company said in a statement.

Keep saying that after being given a chance to limit their impact by discouraging people from driving their cars, and VW digs itself further into the liability hole. A legitimate answer would be something like "our affected diesels are currently legal to drive, but anything people chose to do to limit pollution such as driving other brand vehicles or finding alternatives to driving would likely reduce the emissions while we work on a solution."

Such a statement would be painful, but VW knows who it has to blame. Until they say it, they haven't come clean and haven't taken all the steps they could take, right now, to reduce the problem they've created.


izenmeme said...

@- ""General allegations regarding links between NOX emissions from these affected vehicles and specific health effects are unverified. "

In this VW are technically correct, but it is being economical with the truth.

Direct links between NOx levels and specific health problems are unverified.
However the indirect, but specific pathways from increased NOx to increased ozone and PM2.5 which have measurable general effects on respiratory and cardiac health are verified. (the WHO has a lot on this)

Any increased morbidity or mortality from the emissions cheating cars will be equivalent to the extra NOx generated by the cheating car compared to if they were NOT cheating.
It is possible this difference is small enough to have no significant effect on statistical estimates of morbidity.

Whether this uncertainty is sufficient to absolve VW from liability for the extra air pollution is, I suspect, a matter of defending the car industry as much as protecting public health.

Everett F Sargent said...

Would I encourage people to avoid driving their cars when possible?


The life you save may be your own.