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VW: Just the tip of the pollution iceberg. Who's to blame? Hippies

Carbon crusade is literally poisoning us all in order to save us

You think booze is bad for you? It's not as bad for you as HIPPIES

Turbodiesels are great, but run at best efficiency they do produce a awful lot of NOx. There are ways around this which can work: for instance the spraying of small amounts of special urine-like liquid into the exhaust stream, combined with a catalytic stage, can remove a lot of NOx.

Provided you keep your diesel car's "AdBlue" tank topped up with its rather unpleasant contents, your emissions may well remain at legal levels. Mercedes, for example, considered that such topping-up would take place during routine servicing when introducing its diesel lines to the USA a few years back.

But not all diesel vehicles have AdBlue or similar urine-a-like systems. Many of those that do will not undergo regular, complete servicing in line with the manufacturer's manual, or not for much of their lives anyway. Not many second-hand car owners find it makes financial sense to spend a large proportion of the vehicle's probable sale price on a full dealer service every year.

AdBlue or not, the mere fact that a car has passed regulatory tests prior to going on sale tells you very little about its NOx emissions down the road.

The mere fact that a condensing boiler is legal for sale tells you very little about how much NOx it is going to chuff into the sky before the acid it needlessly generates in its guts wrecks it and it has to be replaced.

It's not misleading to describe the alliance between hippies, the government and the relevant industries (the motor and building trades, in the case of cars and boilers) as a conspiracy of optimism. The hippies got their carbon cuts, and the industries got to sell us much more expensive equipment on which they could make bigger profits. All that was required was that everyone concerned should pretend that the NOx problems had been solved.

The pretence was delivered – and so, on the whole, were the fuel efficiencies. People care about that, it is directly related to whether their machine is working properly: whether their bathwater is hot, whether their car accelerates decently, how much it costs them to keep fuelled.

And, yes indeed, there have been some very gentle CO2 emissions decreases on a per-capita basis among those people affected by rules made in Whitehall, Sacramento and Brussels. They may result at least as much from recent economic travails as from carbon-busting regulations, but they have happened. Not enough to arrest the continuous climb in worldwide atmospheric carbon, or even slow it down much, but right now today that's not an issue: global warming has actually been on hold since maybe 1998 and CO2 levels remain far, far below the levels at which they could actually poison you.

Sadly you can't say the same thing about NOx. As an example London now has the highest NOx levels in Europe, similar to those of Beijing. Some of this is due to the fact that many more Londoners now drive diesels than was formerly the case: another hippy favourite, public transport in the form of buses, is actually a worse problem in the central part of the city.

The new condensing boilers are another major player. Vehicles and boilers together account for the great bulk of London's NOx. The city also has a serious problem with vehicle soot.

In the UK as a nation, air pollution – resulting in large part from the carbon-dioxide crusade – is now once again the same sort of problem it was in the 1950s, when filthy pea-souper "fogs" killed people by the thousand. As the Clean Air campaigners of today point out, air pollution is now on the same level as smoking if you measure by premature deaths. It's more serious than alcohol, much more serious than obesity, and many times more serious than road traffic accidents.

Meanwhile mainstream science, carrying out similar calculations with respect to the Fukushima "disaster", gives a figure of zero attributable deaths, as compared to the tens of thousands in the UK alone every year from the hippies' particulates and NOx.

Even the wildest anti-nuclear advocates struggle to generate a figure in the tens of deaths from Fukushima. This makes the Greenpeace position look frankly cretinous.

None of this excuses Volkswagen for what it did: as far as that goes, however, we might note that most other major manufacturers have produced turbodiesel cars which seem to offer similarly miraculous fuel and NOx numbers to VW's. Maybe it was only Volkswagen which needed to cheat to achieve them, for some reason.

What all this does tell us right now is that the Volkswagen scandal is only the iceberg-tip of the massive pollution problem which has been deliberately willed into being as a result of the impossible crusade to stamp out carbon emissions.

We are not only crippling our economies (in Europe), not only pushing our energy bills sky high, not only suffering easily preventable droughts: oh no. We're also deliberately, and at some expense, poisoning ourselves slowly to death.

Thanks a lot, hippies. ®

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