Volvo Calls For The Truth About Tailpipe Emissions

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
volvo calls for the truth about tailpipe emissions

When I was a young copywriter, I wrote about a catalytic converter that was just newly introduced to Volkswagen. I proudly wrote that it “removes all harmful substances.” The copy came back. I was told to say that it “largely reduces the amount of “ a list of strangely named substances. I said I would never subject the poor Volkswagen customers to such nonsense. I then was called to Wolfsburg and had a meeting with a gruff engineer. He said: “Look, that thing lowers the amount of some bad stuff. But it lets stuff through, it may even create stuff that is much worse. It’s just that nobody is looking for it!”

I was reminded of that episode when I read that “Volvo has called for greater openness about all harmful emissions from cars,” as the BBC has it.

Consumers are told how much carbon dioxide CO2 a car emits. Volvo’s UK’s managing director Peter Rask told BBC News that buyers should get the whole story: “We think it is time to give consumers information about all emissions,” he said. “We would like to see a new environmental label that would highlight this in a simple way.”

In a simple way? If I recall correctly, it would be a rather large label. Or it will have a lot of small print with many strange sounding substances.

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  • AaronH AaronH on Jul 16, 2010

    Complete HC oxidation: N + O2 + HC -> H2O + CO2 + N Water is the major "greenhouse gas" since CO2 is only 0.035% of the entire atmosphere. How is starving plants of CO2 considered "Green"...Is that a public school thing?

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    • Lumbergh21 Lumbergh21 on Jul 16, 2010

      Maybe in an ideal world that is the totallity of the reaction; however, in the real world where that reaction is taking place at high temperature and pressure, the nitrogen reacts with some of the oxygen, producing NOX (NO2 and NO3), and not all of those hydrocarbons are burned as there is very little time allowed for the reaction to occur in an internal combustion engine. Other impurities in the air and fuel produce other byproducts. Quite frankly, it's these other products that kill plant and animal life, not CO2.

  • Colin42 Colin42 on Jul 16, 2010

    The price of entry is compliance with the relevant emissions standard of the region which normally deal with NOx, CO, HC, PM etc. What's the point of telling the public how much PM is produced? Yes gasoline produces PM as well - and should do this via a mass or particle count, so many choices, so much confusion, so little benefit CO2 on the other hand is directly linked to fuel consumption and in much of Europe vehicle tax so it's a key factor in the operating cost of the car. On a side note a couple of years ago I had lots of fun confusing a salesman who was trying to tell me that the ULEV I was looking at didn't produce emissions - He couldn't understand that CO2 & Water & Heat etc are all emissions!

  • AaronH AaronH on Jul 16, 2010

    "I guess that you missed the part where CO2 production is up while the planet is being deforested" Then CO2 production is a good thing then. Is that the kind of "clue" you get at your publik skool?

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    • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jul 16, 2010
      Are you implying that the current loads of CO2 are higher than the planet can handle? To be clear, I said biosphere, not planet, but yes. That the amount of CO2 is going up is evidence of that. At some point, yes, it will rebalance, but we don't know when or how that might happen. Do you believe the current amounts of CO2 are going to lead to a global warming catastrophe? Define "catastrophe". Do I think we'll be boiled alive? No. Do I think we might see changes in climate that could, in turn, drive social and economic changes we don't like? Yes, and we're seeing some if it now. Dumping Mercury into the ocean doesn’t increase the Earth’s temperature, but CO2 emitted by every animal on Earth supposedly does No, no, no. The CO2 in question isn't that which is already part of the biosphere (breathing, rot, cow flatulence), it's the stuff that's been sequestered under the surface of the earth (or dissolved in the oceans) for millions of years that's being released en masse. There is that huge patch of garbage in the Pacific; and agricultural run-off from the Mississippi River causing the “dead zones” in the Gulf Of Mexico which I think you are referring to No, what I'm talking about is ocean acidification due to an increase in atmospheric CO2. It has the potential to cause real problems for microscopic sea life, which in turn ripples right up the food chain. Most people don't even think about ocean acidification as an effect of CO2 increase, and what it might mean for food stocks. That we don't know what AGCC might cause is held up by skeptics as proof that the theory is flawed when what it really ought to do is cause some concern by way of unpredictability: we don't know what could happen, and while in geological terms it'll all pan out evnetually, in human terms it might be unpleasant. So why not try to avoid it happening so that we can keep things more or less as they are today? If this sounds "wishy-washy", that's the nature of science. The tune of the scientific establishment hasn't really changed on this; the media, unfortunately, didn't really "get" the nuances of the science and ran in entirely the wrong direction.

  • Shaker Shaker on Jul 17, 2010

    There will be no "iron-clad" proof of AGW before it's too late to reverse the initial effects. The fact that conservatives have successfully framed the argument into another "redistribution of wealth" paradigm will have many flocking to the "science" of the opposition. Even a partial sacrifice of the comforts afforded to us by (artificially) low-priced energy is "Anti-American", especially if that sacrifice would benefit poor people in the (seemingly far-off) future, in far-flung places. Many who deny AGW are merely afraid of any downgrade to their present lifestyle, and choose the easy answers, many of which (thanks to Exxon, et. al.) are in plentiful supply. A donation to the collection basket at church on Sunday should ease any lingering doubt of one's charitable intents.