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

Volkswagen, one of the world's biggest car groups, is in serious trouble this week as it turned out that millions of its diesel engines have been emitting vast, prohibited amounts of polluting nitrogen oxides (NOx). The fact is, however, that the Volkswagen story is only a small part of the NOx story – in which the human race …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

    I think you will find that proper hippies are living in Oregon and busily emitting hemp based particulates, and that very few drive diesels, because proper VW Beetles have petrol engines.

    You can quite happily critique our environmental regulations, and spot unintended consequences - but many of those are down to well funded lobbyists in smart suits making sure that their pet corner of the economy gets protected. Iv'e worked in 'unregulated' cities where, free of annoying hippies, you can burn whatever you want. They aren't nice places.

    1. Grikath

      Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

      It's more that the Hippies™ are just as bad in this respect as the retards that do whatever they want and let the neighbours cop the consequences.

      The most important thing the VW (and more soon to follow) debacle has made clear, is that the limitations placed on exhaust values are .."quite unrealistic".. when it comes to the physics of the technology involved.

      The sad thing is, that both NOx production in efficient high-temperature fuel cycles and the mitigation of it through urea catalysis is well-understood and has been responsible for the vast reduction of exhaust Nastyness in industry in general for decades now. This just emphasises the utter cluelessness of the Regulators , the Hippy™ lobby and the Hemp Shirts when it comes to matters like this.

      In the end, the rules-that-be are such that you can only manage them with cheating, as VW ( and no doubt a couple of others..) did. Make impossible rules, expect people to get ...Creative..

      And yes, the Hippies™ are at least partly to blame for that, since it is them mostly that wade in to issues like this with nary a clue, and with a big fat set of preconceived notions that strictly follow Party Line. It's not just them, the system itself has gone Bonkers as well, but they have been one of the common denominators, along with regulator ineptitude, when things like this inevitably crash for decades now, and a major roadblock to any real technical solution for our energy needs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

        Of course it's not. The regulators don't just put out a level that is *impossible* to meet. Regulations may get tougher and manufacturers may have to become more innovative to try to reach them, however if no manufacturer can reach it then the regulations is flawed and will quickly get revised.

        Manufacturers will aim for the lowest in class etc to try to attract the green dollar and in doing so they can end up showing a skewed and unrealistic figure that the regulators then make into a requirement.

        Similar to MPG. this bears no resemblance to the real world for most people but under certain laboratory conditions it might be achievable (it might also be part of the testing defeat software though!). However if the regulators used these high end mpg figures and stated that these must be achieved by every car with that type of engine for the average user then the result would probably not be possible.

        Don't blame the regulators for the Volkswagen Group breaking the law and cheating. You can blame them for a number of other things, but not that.

        1. Fluffy Bunny
          Headmaster

          Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

          "The regulators don't just put out a level that is *impossible* to meet."

          Actually they do. Europe has long had much lower levels for various radiation, chemical exposures, etc. I don't think the objective science supports that. And look at the stupidities of the US EPA regulations lately.

          "Don't blame the regulators for the Volkswagen Group breaking the law and cheating. You can blame them for a number of other things, but not that."

          Actually, I'm not entirely sure that VW are cheating. The regulations are quite clear: set up the vehicle under test exactly this way. Run the test. What happens after that isn't covered. In other words, VW complied with the requirements of the test. Nothing in the regulations says the machine always has to work that way.

      2. BillG Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

        @Grikath wrote:

        And yes, the Hippies™ are at least partly to blame for that, since it is them mostly that wade in to issues like this with nary a clue, and with a big fat set of preconceived notions that strictly follow Party Line.

        Just like they waded into the Hippie movement without a clue. Pick up any decent book on the era. You'll see that as the hippies that wanted to join the movement waded into San Francisco, they were deeply insulted to find that rent was not free and money did not grow on trees there, either. While some of them found jobs, many went into the business of street begging and many many more turned to crime. SF was an extremely dangerous place with robberies taking place everywhere. Beggers felt entitled to your spare change and felt they were justified in harassing you for it.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

          Beggers felt entitled to your spare change and felt they were justified in harassing you for it.

          Well, that explains a lot about the politicians from the Bay Area, doesn't it?

        2. Hugh Barnard

          Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

          Well, at least most of them could spell beggars.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

      Another case where climatologists (that well-know branch of *science*) have successfully lobbied to poison the planet - replacing the relatively harmless CO2 with dangerous NOx

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right, so...

    ... we need nuclear power plants in our cars?

    1. lee harvey osmond

      Re: Right, so...

      Mmmm yes. Let's invent a superb new battery technology that's sufficiently cheap and practical for road vehicle applications, and build a nuclear reactor farm the size of Brussels to add a few terawatts of electricity generation capacity?

      Personally, I'd put the nuclear reactor farm the size of Brussels in Brussels -- but that will never work, there's not enough cooling water.

      Unless of course you meant "we'll end up with the hippies bleating about direct-shine emissions from our under-the-bonnet deuterium oxide microfusors".

    2. Rimpel

      ... we need nuclear power plants in our cars?

      Like a Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor + a Flux capacitor?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Ole Juul

    Thanks a lot, hippies.

    You're welcome. By the way, I've never seen any of us hippies driving a diesel. Must be a local thing where you're living.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

      Lewis is not saying that hippies drive diesels. What he's saying is that Greenpeace (who have jokingly described themselves as hippies) policy and lobbying have created situation where C02 is seen as a serious problem that needs to be solved, without taking the relevant care to make sure that suppressing the CO2 does not create worse problems.

      Mind you, we have to be a bit careful in case the hair-shirt brigade, who want us to have personal energy footprints not seen since the middle-ages, come to the fore.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

        I got what Lewis is saying and it's fine, but his writing is not clever or funny. It's convoluted and speaks more of his own internal issues than about the world he's struggling to describe.

        1. SundogUK

          Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

          Then don't read his articles, you pillock.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

            I don't read them. I comment them. Duh.

    2. Andy 97

      Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

      Many of the activists here [in Oxfordshire] drive particularly horrible diesel vehicles.

      There's a 1994 (former Post Office) van with a bunch of unsubstantiated crap written all over the side of it.

      I watched one of the candidates of the Green Party (at the last election) start it. The exhaust threw some ugly stuff out of the back.

      On a central Oxford back street, one of their number has seen fit to drive a 70's Mercedes that looks like a Napier locomotive engine doing a cold start [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv_cGG56QA4] when it's cruising around the Cowley Road area.

      I suspect they'll say it runs on strained tears of Nicaraguan shoe factory workers, but I bet if I checked it would come from the local Tesco.

      1. Otto is a bear.

        Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

        Ahhhhh - Deltic

        1. Chris Miller
          Coat

          Point of information

          The video is an EE Type 3, not a Type 5 - this is a Napier engine:)

          I'll get my anorak ...

          1. Andy 97

            Re: Point of information

            Thanks for the correction.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

        They set fire to some oily rags under the engine and fuel tank to get the derv running?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So basically No2 No2?

    I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

      Me neither. I do understand the fear of nuclear waste with it thousands of years half life and "just bury it in the ground so it poisons our children" storage systems. That's not irrational though.

      1. dogged

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        Recycling is quickly making it irrational though.

      2. MondoMan

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        It's only a tiny portion of the waste that has long thousand-year half lives, so just burying it in the ground actually is a pretty reasonable solution -- it won't poison our children or even the earthworms (the latter because earthworms don't travel through salt or into metal storage containers).

        1. W T Riker

          Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

          Fly it up to the moon and build a large nuclear storage facility, the put a moonbase near it (call it Alpha). Now is all you need is a husband and wife team to run it.....

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        "just bury it in the ground so it poisons our children"

        Of course, it wouldn't be necessary to put it back in the ground (where we dug it up from in the first place) if it could be properly recycled in fast-breeder reactors, but the hippies don't like them either. Instead we all have to live by hippyrules, no matter how much damage they do, because they don't do the sort of damage the ill-informed, non-scientific hippies care about.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

          The fear of fast-breeder reactors is justified because breeder reactors, by design, can produce weapons-grade fuel (either that or stuff that can be easily converted to such), so the moment you mention a breeder reactor the hair-shirts will scream, "BOMB! HIROSHIMA! START!" and the discussion will pretty abruptly stop because they've thrown international politics into the mix, creating a powder keg. They even have an answer to Thorium reactors: "It makes U233 which CAN be weaponized!"

      4. itzman

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        I dont even understand that since the earth is fundamentally constructed of nuclear waste anyway.

      5. hplasm Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        "just bury it in the ground so it poisons our children"

        Why are your children underground?

        1. Artaxerxes

          Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

          Because I'm a London millionaire digging down in to a subterranean lair to avoid planning permission and increase the value of my multi-million pound home.

          Durr.

        2. Boork!

          Re: Why are your children underground?

          Because he and his spawn live under a bridge, and feed off billy-goat trios named Gruff?

      6. Fluffy Bunny

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        "just bury it in the ground so it poisons our children" storage systems. That's not irrational though

        If you just run it through a fast breeder reactor, it solves most of your problems:

        1) you can now use 100% of the uranium, instead of the 1% that is U235

        2) there is no need to store 99% of the uranium because it is no longer highly radioactive waste, but burnt through to the end of it's cycle and therefore not very radioactive.

        Not at all irrational.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

          Uranium is a pain in the rear to dig up refine, and energy-expensive to enrich to fissionable levels, etc.

          Thorium is readily available as a byproduct of rare earth mining. So much so that the USA department of energy buried thousands of tonnes of it in Nevada because they couldn't get rid of it.

          Fast breeders tend to want to use molten sodium as coolant - several hundred tons of that stuff leaking out won't make for a nice afternoon as far as anyone nearby is concerned.

      7. oldie

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        The problem with disposing of nuke waste underground is that some idiot in the future may bring it back to the surface with indiscriminate fracking, then where would we be

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

          The problem with disposing of nuke waste underground is that some idiot in the future may bring it back to the surface with indiscriminate fracking,

          Given the timescales we're discussing here it'd be more likely to be some future archaeologist who mistook our signs of "Danger, deadly stuff buried here" for signs of "This place is important to us".

      8. Martin Budden
        Go

        Re: re: I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

        just bury it in the ground

        Yes, just bury it. Fine. But where?

        I live in Australia, which produces a significant proportion of the uranium used for nuclear power around the world. So it only seems fair that we store a significant proportion of the world's nastiest nuclear waste. When we dig uranium out of the ground we end up with a bloody huge hole. A hole which used to be filled with radioactive stuff. So why not put radioactive stuff back in the bottom of it after all the uranium has been taken out? Ladies and gentleman, I give you the recently-completely-emptied Ranger Uranium Mine.

    2. Naselus

      "I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though."

      Largely cold war-era paranoia. You spend 50 years telling everyone that nuclear energy will destroy them all in violent conflagration, and they suddenly start objecting very strongly to anything related to the tech. Which is frankly ridiculous given that deaths from nuclear power accidents in the whole of history are probably less than deaths from alarm clock malfunctions.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Arrgghhhh..!!!

        ... deaths from nuclear power accidents in the whole of history are probably less than deaths from alarm clock malfunctions....

        We're all going to be killed by alarm clocks! Quick, ban them.....

    3. sisk Silver badge

      I still don't understand the irrational fear of nuclear power though.

      I understand it perfectly. It's the result of the horrifically inefficient power plants that they insisted on building in the 60s because instead of using technology appropriate to the application (ie breeding reactors or thorium reactors for industrial/commercial power generation) they simply scaled up the reactors designed for nuclear subs, which, obviously, have entirely different priorities. The end result is that we have nuclear reactors which create massive amounts of nuclear waste and most people don't realize that it's possible to build reactors which produce only very small amounts of waste that can mostly be reused.

      Oh, and Chernobyl didn't help, but on that front even it's not so bad there as most people think. There were folks moving back into the exclusion zone less than a year afterward and they haven't died of cancer yet.

      Honestly I think that unless fusion power generation really is less than 20 years away now and really is as clean as we're all being told it is nuclear will eventually be our primary power source as reality asserts itself. Even if it is really 20 years away really since fusion is just another form of nuclear power, even if it's not what most people think of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The only way to do totally radioactive wast free fusion is to use isotopically pure hydrogen. Any deuterium or tritium and you have an irradiated power plant to decommission at the end of life. And there will be an EOL due to neutron embrittlement. That will definitely be at the top, or near top, of my list of "baaaddd things" along with containment field failures.

        I never see it brought up but it's right there and anyone who knows the nuclear field really, really gets a primer on the hazards of neutron embrittlement.

        1. Steve Crook

          "the hazards of neutron embrittlement."

          Would that explain the pain in my right hip?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            "the hazards of neutron embrittlement."

            Which should be noted are much the same as the hazards of hydrogen embrittlement, for the same reasons. (Neutrons embed, decay to protons, acquire an electron, bond with carbon in the metal and form methane, which then puts pressure on the surrounding grains)

            The difference being that a non-pressurised LFTR system at 900-1200C isn't nearly as badly affected as a pressurised system filled with acidic water that runs at 500C is (if the embrittlement doesn't do the damage, the boraxed water will - and radioactively contaminated escaping steam is nasty)

            Anyway, with 60 years of experience, there are a number of embrittlement-resistant metals available.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          NOX emissions

          There are a few documents floating around about NOX emissions in london. I actually sat down and read them.

          The TL;DR version is:

          1: Cars used to account for about 2/3 of the NOX levels in inner london (inside the north/south circulars). They now account for about 1/2 - it should be lower if emissions statements were accurate and that's had people headscratching for a while.

          1a: Lean-burn petrol engines emitted just as much nox (sometimes more) as diesels did (this is why they got banned in the USA by way of legislation mandating that petrol engines must always burn fuel stoiciometrically)

          2: MOST of the rest of the NOX emissions are accounted for by gas and oil heating systems

          3: Most of _that_ is oil burning systems and gas burning systems over 15 years old. All boilers built in the last 12 years have NOX limits they must comply with (so it's older unregulated installations making most of the mess. Some are documented as up to 30 years old)

          4: Condensing boilers emit fuck-all NOX - they run cooler in the first place. (Lewis, you really are full of it)

          5: NOX levels outside the north/south circular were never enough to be a health problem.

          NOX levels outside the inner london ring road are not a health problem except along arterial routes.

          NOX levels inside that road are problematic and used to be hazardous - they're still hazardous along some arterial routes where cars can move at high speed (hot engine, more NOX)

          NOX levels outside the M25 are effectively nonexistent, even right next to the motorway.

          IOW: NOX emission controls are a blunt instrument addressing a particular set of circumstances - urban areas (not suburban) with restricted air movement due to the buildings + high vehicle density and areas subject to inversion layer trapping (LA county, CA Central Valley, Paris)

          There's a good argument that better control of NOX-emitting vehicles in such areas (eg: london's clean air zones) or having NOX sensors on vehicles which switch to low-emission mode when levels start to climb would be a better overall solution than one which unnecessarily penalises fuel consumption most of the time.

          NOX doesn't rain out as acid rain, there's not enough of it to send it acid. It forms in lightning strikes, etc anyway. Soil bacteria fix what does rain out into nitrates.

          Sulfur(now the official spelling) was another matter - acid rain from that was mainly coal-sourced, but sulfur had to be removed from petrol/diesel as it poisons catalytic converters.

          That happened relatively recently with USA diesel - which really was filthy at over 100ppm sulfur. Japanese diesel was even worse at 200ppm.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "The end result is that we have nuclear reactors which create massive amounts of nuclear waste "

        The total high level nuclear waste output from an old-fashioned reactor operated for 60 years can be stored onsite in an olympic-size swimming pool until it's no longer radioactive enough to matter - which is about 300 years give or take 50, _NOT_ the "tens of thousands" the doomsayers rant about.

        If LFTR technology gets working and distributed before then, it can use almost all of the "waste" as fuel - along with the 40% of uranium which was previously thrown away after "enrichment" (most of which went into bullets or making H-Bomb casings).

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Stop blaming just the hippies

    With the current excise rates on fuel, I would like to have my car, boiler, etc as fuel efficient as possible, thank you. So it is not just the hippies, it is the government thirst for funds and aim to get them skimming off the dipping petrol sales which is at play here.

    As far as the condensing boilers, Lewis, you are talking total rubbish.

    Their increase in efficiency is not caused by having a more efficient burn cycle. Gas in boilers has been burning at "max achieveable temperature" for a very long time. So my 20 years old GlowWarm emits the same amount of NOx at the burn point and per liter gas fuel burned as a condensing boiler. The reason condensing boilers dissolve their guts from their own acid production is the improvement in the heat "extraction" efficiency. The exhaust of my GlowWarm is in the hundred degrees range. The exhaust temperature of a condensing boiler is significantly less (under the boiling point of water) so it can (as per high school thermodynamics) be more efficient (bigger delta T). As a result (as per high school chemistry) the CO2, NOx and SO2 in the exhaust (which are the same in ppm for liter exhaust gas produced/liter gas burned as from normal boiler) react with the condensate water producing a highly acidic solution. That dissolves the guts.

    So actually, if you do the proper math, the condensing boilers are an area where the "hippies" have achieved a significant improvement to air quality - they emit less NOx and SO2 because they burn less gas (at the same pollutant production rate at burn) and they also capture most of it into acidic effluent on-the-spot with much less of it going into the air.

    1. dogged

      Re: Stop blaming just the hippies

      The current excise rates on fuel were pushed through as a "green" measure so the logical train still works.

    2. Infury8r

      Re: Stop blaming just the hippies

      "So actually, if you do the proper math, the condensing boilers are an area where the "hippies" have achieved a significant improvement to air quality ....."

      Provided one factors-in the energy used / pollutants emitted, during the manufacture & replacement of equipment which has only half the life of old 'inefficient' boilers.

      The boiler industry deliberately obfuscates the (gullible) public by quoting efficiencies >100%, without explaining the difference between 'net' & 'gross' efficiency.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stop blaming just the hippies

        "...by quoting efficiencies >100%"?

        Really, when did we discover energy-creating tech?

      2. Joel 1

        @infury8r

        "Provided one factors-in the energy used / pollutants emitted, during the manufacture & replacement of equipment which has only half the life of old 'inefficient' boilers."

        I had my condensing boiler installed in 1999 as an extra in my newbuild house. The neighbours went with whatever was standard. I'm just looking at replacing mine now (16.5 yrs later) because of a logic board issue (not because the guts were rotted out). The neighbours (identical house) have been averaging 33.5MWh of gas annually over the past 3 years. We've been averaging 21.5MWh of gas. It does make a difference!

    3. <shakes head>

      Re: Stop blaming just the hippies

      not really they only are efficient if run for a long burn, if they run start up every few mins for 5 or ten mins then they never get to their efficiency rating

  6. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Well DUH!

    Pretty much what I said when the CO2 botherers forced the "dash to diesel" at the time.

    But then I'd had the advantage of driving around Belgium where diesels are de rigeur and the place lives under a pall of yellow clag year-round. Oddly enough, the EU is based in Brussels (most of the time) so presumably they all knew this and went ahead with the stupidity anyway.

    So we have to look for another reason along with the "CO2 iz evvryfing" mindlessness. Now when it comes to reducing emissions, at the time there was a choice of a balanced view or heavily biased toward CO2. The former hands the playing field to the hybrids and the latter favours diesels. The Japanese manufacturers held all the cards in hybrids and the German manufacturers in diesels. Guess who dictates EU auto policy?

    I see elsewhere today that BMW, Volvo, Renault and Hyundai are in the firing line. The second of those is really interesting, as Volvo are part of Ford and use their engine technology. Fords oil-burners are PSA (Peugeot / Citroen) units. Looks like the whole house of cards may come down at once....

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Well DUH!

      From what I've read, the modern lean-burn petrol engines (especially those being created for Euro 6 emission levels) also burn hot, and produce more oxides of nitrogen, so it's not just diesels, it's pretty much all modern cars that are at fault.

      Diesels are just in the firing line at the moment, because they promised less emissions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well DUH!

        You forget that petrol cars nowadays have catalytic converters.

        1. AndyS

          Re: Well DUH!

          The cats in petrol cars don't deal with NOx though - otherwise they would also need urea. They are "reduction" catalysts which reduce CO and unburnt fuel to CO2 and H2O.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not all NOx always, but some

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalytic_converter

          2. 8Ace

            Petrol Cat Converters do reduce NOx

            Unlike Diesel, modern petrol engines have 3 way catalytic converters which do reduce NOx (2NOx → xO2 + N2).

            3 Way addresses Hydrocarbons, CO and NOx

            When operated in a closed cloop they operate with the ECU to maintain the petrol engine in the ideal range for the cat to operate most efficiently. Diesel engines currently can't achieve this.

            Details from Volkswagen ironically:

            http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/technology/glossary/three-way-catalytic-converter

          3. Dazed and Confused

            Re: Well DUH!

            But cats don't like to get too hot, OK so it's been a few years since I looked at the figures but to get cats to last longer than a tank of fuel the engine needs to run a touch richer than the peak for power production. I can't remember the changes it foisted on us, but the stoichiometric ratio was buggered around with. Not running quite so hot results in less NOx.

          4. MNB

            Re: Well DUH!

            Yes, and the oxidant used to deal with the unburnt fuel in petrol engines exhaust stream is... drum roll please ... NOx. Diesels can't use the same catalyst tech as they are sub stoichiometric in the fuel air ratio used, and thus only produce Nox and soot, not unburned HC. The rhodium based cat needs the H in the HC's, so doesn't deal with the soot as it is nearly pure C.

        2. itzman

          Re: Well DUH! - petrol cars nowadays have catalytic converters.

          Well yes they do, but the catalytic converters fitted to cars are not designed to pull nitrogen oxides out. They are deigned to pull out CO and hydrocarbons

          1. Jagged

            Re: Well DUH! - petrol cars nowadays have catalytic converters.

            "Well yes they do, but the catalytic converters fitted to cars are not designed to pull nitrogen oxides out. They are deigned to pull out CO and hydrocarbons"

            - agreed.

            Cat Converters are another bleedin con. Only efficient on large cars (that are typically produced by German manufacturers) doing long journeys, when most of us (and the environment) would be better of with lean burn lead petrol engines

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well DUH!

          "You forget that petrol cars nowadays have catalytic converters."

          As do diesels (mine has one).

          In addition to NOx, modern direct-injection petrol engines produce a large amount of ultra-fine particulates - 10x the amount generated by diesels, and 1,000x the amount generated by indirect-injection petrols. These aren't particularly pleasant, but this can be fixed by adding a particulate filter, but not many seem to have one ...

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Well DUH!

      Japanese manufacturers held all the cards in hybrids

      I do hope these new real-world-driving emissions tests that everyone is rushing to do will also include hybrids, we'll see if they merit their vast tax subsidies.

      Even if government organizations won't test such vehicles, I sincerely hope every motoring magazine in Europe is getting together with their local specialists and universities to run their own test campaigns. We're in for some interesting reading, but sadly I doubt we'll see many politicians' heads rolling as a result.

    3. goldfishwfc

      Re: Well DUH!

      Actually Volvo is now Chinese - it was part of Ford, but they sold it

    4. John Presland

      Re: Well DUH!

      Volvo was sold by Ford several years ago and now belongs to a Chinese company.

    5. davemcwish

      Re: Well DUH!

      "The second of those is really interesting, as Volvo are part of Ford and use their engine technology."

      Nope, Ford sold Volvo Cards to Geeley in 2010

    6. jgarry
      FAIL

      Re: Well DUH!

      Ford sold Volvo to the Chinese 5 years ago.

  7. codejunky Silver badge

    Thats different

    So the film begins and the wasteland comes on screen. The doom and apocalypse brought on the world and ended it leaving the few to scavenge and scrounge to survive in a world of chaos. And the text comes up on screen to explain how mankind ended it all and finished us off. It was not some greedy corporation, not the rise of the machines, not some nuclear war nor accident. The barren wasteland you see is caused by the hippies.

    This would make for a different start to the movie. It was only unbelievable because nobody thought a hippy could be that close to power or influence.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Thats different

      So the film begins and the wasteland comes on screen. The doom and apocalypse brought on the world and ended it leaving the few to scavenge and scrounge to survive in a world of chaos. ... The barren wasteland you see is caused by the hippies.

      Hey, I saw that on TV, I think it was called "Woodstock".

  8. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "vast" is BS

    It's 10 to 40x of what is an ever-shrinking standard.

    Keeping in mind that it's effectively an unbounded 'log scale', even the 40x is better described as 'modest'. If it were 10,000x then you could call it 'vast'.

    Out in the harbour is a large Bunker-fueled ship that will emit more NOx with one blip of the engine than the entire fleet of VWs ever will.

    Calling this ratio "vast" is BS, and I'm calling you out on it Mr Page.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: "vast" is BS

      Thumb down is an admission of innumeracy.

      Above post is true.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "vast" is BS

        How do you think all of those Smart cars and Priuses get to the US and Europe? On a ship that burns bunker fuel.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: "vast" is BS

          It's a fact that the 15 largest ships emit more pollution than all the cars on Earth combined. Maybe the VW scam requires that the 15 be updated to 16.

          Bunker fuel is filthy filthy filthy. I'll bet that the sulfur removed from 'clean diesel' gets dumped into Bunker fuel and burned in the harbour instead of the highway.

          The point remains true that NOx pollution from ships or heavy equipment demands a Log Scale to accommodate the vast range of emissions cover many orders of magnitude. The VW fleet, being modern cars, will be at the thin end of the scale. Older heavy equipment will dominate total emissions.

          x40 is *nothing*. Too many people are innumerate. They can't even think straight.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: [..] ship that will emit more NOx [..] than the entire fleet of VWs ever will

      I have no idea how big the "entire fleet" of VWs is, but I'm pretty sure that one "blip" of any ship's engine is not even going to equal tens of millions of car exhausts for any measure of time you care to set.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: [..] ship that will emit more NOx [..] than the entire fleet of VWs ever will

        I dont know this for sure, but given the size of ship engines and the type of fuel they burn I suspect they do not burn at the very, very high temperatures, required to create vast amounts of NOx. Yes that makes them inefficient, meaning they emit lots of CO2 (also soot and whatnot), but probably not so much NOx. Would be great to check this against some sources, actually.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: [..] ship that will emit more NOx [..] than the entire fleet of VWs ever will

        Lesson on orders of magnitude.

        Typical car is turned off 95+% of the time.

        Typical big ship is running MOST of the time.

        An order of magnitude right there in duty cycle alone.

        Here are two more. VW's problem fleet (even 11M) is just 1% of the world's car fleet.

        They're modern cars. Compared to uncontrolled heavy equipment, they're nothing.

        What percentage of world NOx emissions are from this fleet? 1%? 0.01%? Certainly negligible.

        Public transport buses emit far more.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grr...

    Water drinking,

    Sandal wearing,

    Beard sporting,

    Charity mugging,

    Tree hugging,

    2CV driving,

    Veagan eating HIPPIES

    GRR...

    Would post with joke alert icon but cant do that anonymously...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would post with joke alert icon but cant do that anonymously...

      Yeah, and you can lose your job for posting shit humour, best to keep your name hidden.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Grr...

      > Veagan eating HIPPIES

      I never realised that hippies were allowed to eat vegans.

      Suppose they have to eat something.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Grr...

        This hippy eats vegans: cows, sheep, goats... What do you eat?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Grr...

      "Would post with joke alert icon but cant do that anonymously..."

      Like that?

  10. Dr_N Silver badge

    Serious question concerning the "Dash for DERV" ...

    Who didn't see this coming?

  11. DainB Bronze badge
    Pint

    All we need is a car that produces C2H5OH.

    Noone would ever complain.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge
      Pint

      >"All we need is a car that produces C2H5OH.

      Noone would ever complain."

      Don't daft of course they will complain, it will be un-oaked, not sufficiently mature, the wrong shade of honey...

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Pint

      Carboy

      Some of us use carboys to make booze:

      http://www.homebrewsky.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/What-is-Carboy-300x225.jpg

  12. Richard Wharram

    Really wish I'd known all this before I got two diesel VAG cars

    So my cars are only fuel-efficient and low-CO2 because they spew out asthma. I didn't know this :(

    Whilst I disagree with the depiction of CO2 as not being a problem I completely agree that more should have been done on nuclear. Politicians just didn't want to upset those whose opinions were set against it. Greens, Ex-CND, new-agers, natural-born-fretters etc...

    Petrol or electric for my next car once I've absorbed the inevitable depreciation of my current ones :/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Political nukes

      Yup, again, Nuclear Power, so simple, so cheap, so profitable. Nuclear power subsidy sucking could empty a lake full of money in a minute.

      Still, good to know that the government is so frit by a few hundred thousand green voters, that's not a number they would normally deign to notice. One might wonder if it isn't really convenient to have a green scape goat or two around? 'Oh sorry, we would have given you power to cheap to meter, but the greens wouldn't let us, and it's nothing to do with the fact that they are just really really expensive ways of generating electricity, and we have enough Plutonium for our bombs already ta very much'

      1. Richard Wharram

        Re: Political nukes

        And yet China can build Nuclear Power Stations on time and to budget. France is still reaping the rewards of their programme both in terms of cost-effective stable supply and low per-person CO2 emissions.

        It wasn't just hard greens who were uncomfortable with nuclear power. Since the fifties there's been a general increase in the population of sciencey-things-are-scary. Noone has had the political will to change that since the 80s.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Political nukes

          Yup China, that noted bastion of free market economy,transparency and stringent safety standards. Strange that to do it over here they need us to underwrite them and promise that we will pay some 'think of a number and multiply by a panda' price for the leccy it produces.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Political nukes

            You mean roughly double what we pay for coal electric, roughly 1/3 what we pay for solar PV and considerably less than what we pay for wind electric.

            Nuclear isn't cheap, but it's cheaper than the alternatives to burning coal.

            The UK already relies heavily on French nuclear plants - and we need more

        3. silent_count

          Re: Political nukes

          "Since the fifties there's been a general increase in the population of sciencey-things-are-scary. Noone has had the political will to change that since the 80s."

          I think the problem began when the children of the 70's hippies were grown up by the early 90's. You know, when suddenly nobody was allowed to smack children any more and nobody was allowed to tell the darlings they're wrong about anything lest you hurt their precious feelings. So they've grown up with the delusion that, regardless of the facts, their opinion is just as valid as anyone else's.

          So now we've got homoeopaths and anti-vaxers arguing with doctors, and more recent hippy-throwbacks arguing with people who know the science of nuclear power.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Political nukes

        > ... and we have enough Plutonium for our bombs already ...

        Well actually there's another issue where the hippies are to blame !

        There is a well developed, well understood, already viable reactor type that can use that as fuel - the only problem is that some groups of hippies are so against anything that involves plutonium as to make your average anti-nuke activist seem rather relaxed !

        And therein lies a lot of the problem with nuclear at the moment. The hippies are so against "stuff" that they make a big problem out of a little one.

        You see, there is a basic fact about nuclear stuff. If it's really highly radioactive, it has a short half life; and if it's got a long half life then it's generally rather low in radioactivity. AIUI, the plan for decommissioning the old Magnox stations was basically to shut them down, keep the cooling running until the secondary reactions died down (perhaps a year or so), and then they'd be cool enough to just remove all the ancillary systems. Wrap the core in a block of concrete (about the size of a house), and leave it for a hundred years. You'd post security - probably just to avoid graffiti as that's about all the damage anyone could do to it. After that, the highly active stuff has decayed, and your left with the not very active stuff left - cut a hole in the side, don some protective gear, walk in and pick up the bits sort of activity levels.

        But no, that's not good enough, it's got to be done NOW - so it costs a fortune handling and disposing of the highly active waste that wouldn't be highly active if we left it for a while.

        And of course, for the above mentioned reason (nuclear is bad, fast breeders are worse), we can't put all this fuel (for that's what the bulk of it is) into a reactor and use it - we have to call it waste and spend a fortune getting rid of it.

        So yes, nuclear power could be somewhat cheaper - and part of that is down to the hippies making it more expensive than it needs to be. I don't dispute that in the past, there were some "not very forward thinking" decisions made, and that some of these have left us with an expensive cleanup bill - but that's not the same as todays technology & designs where "taking it apart in 50 years" is part of the design process.

        And for low level waste, you have to remember that in the politically over-tight restrictions of the nuclear industry, I believe some bananas would be classes as nuclear waste !

        Believe it or not, in the early days of oil production, there was a dangerous fraction which would cause oil lamps to explode if it wasn't removed and disposed of. They used to pour it in pits and set fire to it to get rid of it. These days we call it petrol and run cars with it !

        PS - if you really want to pee off some sorts of hippy, point out that some of the steel used to make wind turbines comes from recycled nuclear power stations. Yes, windmills made from nuclear waste !

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Political nukes

          Simon, an excellent summation but the green hippy movement will never accept it.

          From the Greenham Common days with the harpies screeching their thing to today they can't even consider anything nuclear even if it would solve all their fears about CO2. I think their biggest problem with it is that it would provide abundant cheap energy, even in developing countries, which appears to be against their religion.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Buy'n'Large made cars

    Nuff Said

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: If Buy'n'Large made cars

      "owning over a million subsidiaries and government departments...."

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VW's fines and costs...

    The billions should be redirected to best, most effective, use.

    Maybe retrofit Bunker-fueled ships to burn cleaner diesel.

    Seems a waste to worry about a relatively minor exceedance, when the same money could be used more effectively.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: VW's fines and costs...

      You don't know how expensive that would be.

    2. Andy 97

      Re: VW's fines and costs...

      Once in international waters they can do what they like and they'll burn the cheapest fuel they can.

      Most engineers switch to bunker fuel because it costs a fraction of refined and shipping is all about the reduction of cost per kilometer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VW's fines and costs...

        ermmm no they can't do what they want once on the high seas they are still bound by international regulations, and the shipping industry has done quite a bit to make ships cleaner.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VW's fines and costs...

      Lot of oil burning ships use urea/catalytic NOX reduction systems

      Of course the answer is nuclear ships

      Prefuelled factory sealed reactors and off you go

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: VW's fines and costs...

        "Prefuelled factory sealed reactors and off you go"

        Will be following with much interest when the first one gets hijacked by pirates near some remote coast of Africa...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: VW's fines and costs...

          "Will be following with much interest when the first one gets hijacked by pirates near some remote coast of Africa..."

          Lookup "microreactors" and you'll see they won't have enough fuel to make stealing it worthwhile.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: VW's fines and costs...

        >"Of course the answer is nuclear ships

        Prefuelled factory sealed reactors and off you go"

        The UK government obviously didn't get this message, before it commissioned two new diesel powered aircraft carriers...

        1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

          Re: VW's fines and costs...

          The UK government obviously didn't get this message, before it commissioned two new diesel powered aircraft carriers...

          But the UK government gets very little anyway.... that's why they don't have the wherewithal to power conventional catapults (amongst other things) - and all the consequences for aircraft choice and costs. I'm just curious, were the civil servants simply stupid or are they expecting payoffs at a later stage. I know what the answer is for politicians.

          1. JimC Silver badge

            Re were the civil servants simply stupid or...

            I know that quite a few of the design engineers were expecting them to be cancelled sooner or later, so perhaps they assumed there was in point in beating up about stupid decisions if they were going to come to nothing anyway. It can be a major struggle to inject sense into a bureaucracy, and it can also be very career limiting.

    4. Dave Hilling

      Re: VW's fines and costs...

      Natural gas container ships.

      http://thinkaboutit.org/charting-a-cleaner-course-with-natural-gas

      http://thinkaboutit.org/the-world-s-largest-moving-object

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VW's fines and costs...

      nearly all modern ships burn diesel. Bunkers is pretty much just a term used for fuel in the shipping industry, its not bunker fuel (i.e unrefined shite).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VW's fines and costs...

        That is correct, "bunkering" is just a word that hung around. I have actually been on a bunkering ship, curiously enough. Quite interesting.

        The BIG stationary 2-stroke diesels (think 100,000 bhp) can burn anything (almost). So on all those islands and remote places that have diesel engine generators they have tanks of what is effectively tar that they heat up (to make it flow) and pump into the engines - hey presto power, with the heat scavenging and reuse systems there is slightly over 50% conversion efficiency in the power generated.

        Now, how clean the stacks are, depends entirely on the customer (read grid operator) and their willingness to pay to have clean air. Having spent a decade in the industry in an earlier life, I can tell you they are not much interested, because it costs real money and you still have to get rid of what you scrub out.

  15. Groaning Ninny

    Hmmm...

    Do you also write for the Mail?

    1. dogged

      Re: Hmmm...

      At no point were gays, gypsies or immigrants mentioned so I'm going with a "no".

      1. Graham Marsden

        @dogged - Re: Hmmm...

        No, he probably doesn't, but he uses them as a reference.

        From the bottom of the page he links to: "This is Money is part of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday & Metro media group"

        Of course The Mail never has its own agenda...

    2. ZSn

      Re: Hmmm...

      Neither was the price of the house that the hippies lived in mentioned so I'll go with a no too.

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Welcome to Back-to-Front Land!

    I knew I could trust El Reg to come up with the goods.

  17. Zog The Undeniable

    VW cheated because they wanted an Euro VI compliant engine that DIDN'T require urea aftertreatment of the exhaust but would still pass NOx tests. The other manufacturers decided (rightly) that this wasn't possible to achieve while maintaining acceptable on-road performance and economy. On the test cycle the VW engine presumably uses a lot of exhaust gas recirculation and/or injection tweaks to ensure NOx doesn't breach the limits. On the road this would give a very sluggish engine with loads of flat spots and rubbish economy.

    1. toughluck

      Exactly that

      The CAFEE of U of W Virginia did test a diesel BMW X5 next to two Volkswagens on the road -- the BMW was within or below the emissions limits, the Volkswagens exceeded them 5-40 times. This actually exonerates the tests themselves and confirms their real-life application.

      If Volkswagen felt there was no possibility to meet the regulations and decided to cheat, I presume they went the whole hog and aimed for unprecedented fuel efficiency while staying below the emissions limits (while undergoing testing) and that is actually their biggest crime here -- they could have cheated just a little and perhaps exceed emissions 2-3 times, but they would probably be unable to achieve the same fuel efficiency figures.

      I read that while Volkswagen Group marques use the same engines, they also write their own ECU software. Škoda has asked Volkswagen internally how it was possible that they were getting better fuel efficiency for similar cars while staying within the emissions limits and Volkswagen declined to answer. That led to comparable cars (Golf and Octavia or Passat and Superb) having different CO2 tax bands in the UK. Is that possible?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, until recently VW stuck to a lean NOx trap, which is less reliable than SCR.

      And it was pretty ironic that nuclear-is-great-only-the-scientifically-illiterate-are-scared-of-it Lewis Page should fall into the urea-sounds-like-urine-ewwwwww trap by calling it unpleasant. Urea is considered safe (although there are limited health risks), and as such is used in a _lot_ of products, including cosmetics. Care should be taken when handling a urea solution, but a spill is nothing to run away from.

      Fortunately, with batteries falling in price and iteratively improving, electrification can provide a better path to efficiency.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Straw Dogs

    Soo... your that intimidated by the powers that be, that the only way you can get some dire facts out about the true nature of air pollution is to pin it all on defenseless hippies.

    It would have been a great article if you had cut out the parts about blaming the hippies. Very sad unnecessary use of a straw man.

  19. Keith Oborn

    How to make your own valid arguments ignored

    I have followed El Reg for many years, and in general find the combination of accurate journalism and humour very attractive.

    However, this writer shoots himself in the foot every time.

    Most of the factual description is correct (particularly the bit about Fukushima).

    We see the usual shaded "opinion" about global warming.

    Get this straight - CO2 causes warming of the radiation target wherever it is the thermal radiation path. A planetary scale system reacts very slowly and noisily over human timescales. The observation that warming has been approximately zero for a decade or so is IRRELEVANT. Any determinable trends will take centuries, at least, to be 100% confirmable.

    However, my main gripe:

    2/3 of the way down the first page we see the usual tag "It is a centrepiece of hippy thinking--".

    Three cheers to the comment about the Daily Mail!

    I don't agree with all Greenpeace's methods and detailed ideas - same goes for other pressure groups. However, overall they are correct. I am 61 years old, have never been describable as a "hippy" (did have long hair at university!), and I object strongly to your turning that innocent word into an insult, and then applying that insult to people like me.

    The result of this is that you make your entire argument look like the ranting of an angry child. That may be a benefit, as at least it makes people likely to ignore you.

    Summary: grow up or shut up.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. ZSn

      Re: How to make your own valid arguments ignored

      Ignoring the name calling for a moment - it is noticeable that whenever Greenpeace go anywhere near scientific facts they either grossly exaggerate out outright lie. When that oil platform was being sunk in the Atlantic they grossly exaggerated the amount of oil in it. They seem willfully blind on the difference between fission and fusion reactors to name just two examples.

      It's sad to see an organisation that has a good story to tell - protection of the environment - being led by self-indulgent mendacious idiots.

      1. itzman

        Re: How to make your own valid arguments ignored

        Greenpeace is led by very cynical men and funded by even more cynical interests.

        Don't confuse te real hippies - like Patrick Moore who founded it - with the career environmentalists who are taking the corporate coin to lobby for overpriced monopoly supply of energy.

        The Left infiltrated eco politics years ago, and were bought out post 1990 by serious corporate interest.

        Eco politics is as corrupt as any other form.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a Vauxhall Diesel Astra Estate 1.7 from 2001 it's NOx is rated at 0.459g/km, I know this because I had to get the EU certificate of conformity to put it in the correct road tax class meaning the DVLA didn't get a copy when the car was manufactured. This actually puts me under the Euro-3 standard for Diesel NOx cars introduced the year it was made (0.5g/km). Should I believe my car is actually producing this amount of NOx? Of course not. Also according to DirectGov my car has NOx emissions of 0.442. Where do they get these figures from?

    This does lead to another interesting point, if they were rigging the tests then they also must have been rigging their initial certificates.

  21. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    A slight amendment...

    ...in which the human race is busily poisoning itself in a pretty much pointless quest to cut back on emissions of carbon dioxide...

    "...in which the human race is busily poisoning itself in a completely pointless quest to cut back on emissions of carbon dioxide.."

    There. Fixed that for you....

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lewis' cognitive dissonance

    So... NO2 produced by cars is poisoning the atmosphere and endangering us, but CO2 produced by cars has no discernible effect on anything?

    Thanks for clearing that up, Lewis.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Lewis' cognitive dissonance

      I think someone can't read properly.

      CO2 is not poisonous, at least not in any quantity likely to be found outside - and in fact is absolutely essential to our lives (if it were to drop significantly in quantity then plant growth would reduce and we'd starve). It has an effect on the climate, though the nature and scale of that effect is ... lets stay polite and just say it's subject to some disagreement.

      NOx emissions are different. As pointed out they are toxic, and they directly cause all sort of problems - directly observable problems.

      So yes, he is correct in pointing out that NOx is a huge problem, a known and proven problem, and it's being made worse in the drive for reduced CO2 emissions to avoid a problem whose scale and effect is at the very least "under debate".

    2. itzman

      Re: Lewis' cognitive dissonance

      Broadly speaking,. yes.

      NOx is rare in the atmosphere because its highly reactive, and having it in the air is something we are not adapted to.

      CO2 exists in small quantities because its not very reactive. Oxygen is reactive, but its always being produced.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lewis' cognitive dissonance

      In effect yes. Your sarcasm is pathetic.

      Actually, people are dying every single day due to ailments directly caused by particulates and NOx (these are a completely uncontentious statements - do some research) . Absolutely no one is dying from CO2 poisoning due to increased human emissions (another completely uncontentious statement).

  23. greengo

    This is a good situation, diesel cars smell, are noisy and cost more to run for those who don't do multiple thousands of miles a year. Petrol or Electric, that should be the only two choices.

    1. ISP

      "cost more to run for those who don't do multiple thousands of miles a year"

      I keep seeing this banded about but I don't think it is the case. Especially now with the cost of diesel so low.

      What are your extra costs? Both intermediate and full services for my car are the same price for both diesel and petrol models. Given that a diesel service is really change oil and fuel filter and petrol is change oil and plugs this should not surprise. Most diesels may need a cam belt change at $MILAGE but so do many petrol cars. And no matter what people thing timing chains are far from fault free either, and if they stretch, jump teeth or snap you'll know all about it.

      You could argue that petrols cost less to buy, but this is only strictly true new. Used will be based on supply, the trade is full of 2-3 year old A4 diesels for example, whereas non-sports petrols are like rocking horse shit.

      I don't drive huge miles but I do have a diesel. I don't commute in it, I live in a rural area so the majority of my driving is longer distances so I've never had any DPF issues. Snow and poorly cleared roads and side streets are also a frequent enough occurrence for me to prefer the torque of a diesel over petrol any day.

      As for electric, I live in a flat. I doubt the neighbours would appreciate a flex coming out the window and across the courtyard to whichever non-allocated space I'd had to take.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        > What are your extra costs?

        DMF

        I don't know how many still use them, but a lot of owners found out the hard way that when the Dual Mass Flywheel fails, it puts the cost of a clutch replacement up somewhat.

        DPF

        This is the one that gets low milage drivers. The way modern diesel get low particulate emissions is to filter them out - with a filter. Needless to say this clogs up, and the solution is a "good blast" so that the engine management can tweak the operating conditions to heat the DPF up until the carbon burns off. If you don't do regular longish runs, then the opportunity to "regenerate" the DPF doesn't happen, they clog up, and have to be replaced at great expense.

        And if you mis-fuel a modern diesel, well ... You can either cross your fingers and hope that nothing has need badly damaged, or pay several grand in replacement high pressure parts. If you are "unclever" enough to let on to the manufacturer or dealer that you've done it (such as by calling the manufacturers custoemr service line for assistance, doh) - your warranty is void unless you do have all the expensive high pressure bits replaced.

        1. ISP

          DMF's are a red herring here too as more and more modern petrols have them too, particularly the ultra modern small capacity turbos with 3 or even 2 cylinders. A lot of problems with these are down to sloppy driving habits. Always engage the clutch before starting car (mine actually will not start unless you have the clutch fully engaged when you turn on the ignition), don't labour the engine by using too high a gear for the road speed and never use 2nd to pull away.

          DPFs are indeed an issue if you don't understand how they operate and whether they fit the nature of your mileage. Petrol catalytic converters are also very expensive and there a variety of ways those can be clogged or damaged including misfueling. But it is still the nature of the mileage not the amount that matters here.

          Fancy dual clutch automated gearboxes and highly complex electronics are much more a cause of expensive repairs than simple fuel choice.

          1. oldie

            OOOh goodie, after 50 years of driving at last a lesson on how to change gear

        2. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Misfuel?

          I keep hearing about this, but I don't know anyone who even knows anyone who's actually done it.

          The diesel nozzle is wider than the petrol one, so it's pretty obvious.

          Seems like an unwarranted fear.

          My current diesel's manual even says it has an "anti-misfuelling" device that claims to makes it physically impossible to do. No idea if that's actually true, but it is certainly plausible.

          1. ISP

            Re: Misfuel?

            Been driving diesels for 12 years, worst I've ever done is pick up the wrong nozzle got nowhere near actually putting it in the car. The most annoying bit was trying to cancel the vend on the pay-at-pump device and get it to start over again while steam came out of the taxi at the pump behind me driver's ears...

          2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: Misfuel?

            I'm not sure he meant filling a diesel car with petrol. Any substandard diesel would do nicely.

            1. ISP

              Re: Misfuel?

              "Any substandard diesel would do nicely."

              Bollocks

              All diesel sold in this country must meet an official EU standard. There are only three refineries in the UK that now supply the bulk of the country. Anything else is just snake oil. Before anyone starts waving hands and chanting biodiesel there are official standards for that too and it is normally blended at the refinery.

              1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                Re: Misfuel?

                "Bollocks. All diesel sold in this country must meet an official EU standard."

                Yes, it must, and usually does. Except for some rare mishaps - counterfeit diesel from a shady supplier, contamination in the station tank, local prats having a bit of fun with pumps.

                Point is, car diesels are easy to kill with a lousy fuel. Tractors and other rugged diesels can take more abuse.

                But hey, if bad fuel is forbidden, then it's all good, not a single thing to worry about. Only a theoretical discussion then.

                1. Alistair Silver badge
                  Windows

                  Re: Misfuel?

                  I have a bag of sugar for you sir.

                  1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad
                    Pint

                    Re: Misfuel?

                    "I have a bag of sugar for you sir."

                    Thank You, kind Sir, that'll go well with my 3rd morning coffee.

                    Here's little something in return:

                    www.snopes.com/autos/grace/sugar.asp

                2. ISP

                  Re: Misfuel?

                  "Point is, car diesels are easy to kill with a lousy fuel. Tractors and other rugged diesels can take more abuse."

                  If the vendor sells you something that is out of the official standard you'll have a claim against them for any damage caused. Unlike putting the wrong fuel in yourself. And if you want to see an engine wrecked fast try petrol contaminated with water in any petrol engine...

                  Contaminated fuel is contaminated fuel, what they were trying to claim was Supermarket fuel is inferior to which I maintain. BOLLOCKS!

                  Oh and oldie, 50 years of driving experience does not equal good habits. My dad has been driving for longer than that and has developed a really bad habit of snatching 2nd at far too low revs. Fortunately they only do about 2000 miles a year now so so far the clutch has survived.

                  I've seen all the other things I mentioned done. In addition I've also seen people use a clutch like an on/off switch, all of these things put together probably explain the demise of their DMF and clutch at ~78k miles in their MK4 Golf. Mine was still going strong when I sold it at 90k, and unlike their Match mine was the 130bhp version which were much harder on the clutch.

                  The manual of my current car also warns explicitly about most of the above and in addition: driving with your hand on the gear stick causing wear on the synchromesh and gears and riding the clutch, ie driving with your foot still on it enough that it is not fully engaged. Which is why I despise any car with insufficient room next to the clutch for my foot, and I'm only a size 10. Volvo, Ford, Alfa, I'm looking at you!

    2. itzman
      FAIL

      Re: diesel cars smell, are noisy and cost more to run

      Er no. Actually they don't they aren't and they don't.

      Not modern ones.

      1. oldie

        Re: diesel cars smell, are noisy and cost more to run

        The initial purchase cost and servicing are higher, but no smell and very little noise

    3. oldie

      There will have to be a vast range increase before I would even consider looking at pure electric, another negative is that I could not recharge at night, cant get near the house

  24. Otto is a bear.

    Just like to say

    My VW Golf Diesel does up to 90 MPG on a 1.9L engine, and more normally I get 60 on my 40 mile run through Chiltern hills. It's exhaust emissions do not smell or emit large clouds of black smoke (DPF), but it is noisy, and it's only expensive to run because of the $%"^"%% DSG gearbox which keeps going wrong. Don't forget that Diesel is now cheaper that petrol in many places.

    It's also a 2008 model so hopefully no fiddled software. It's also the most boring car I have ever driven.

    My next car will be a hybrid, because it's more environmentally friendly, oh wait those batteries are manufacture how......

  25. Ian Emery Silver badge

    READ THIS

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/25/vw-isn-t-even-the-worst-polluter-tests-are-made-to-be-fooled.html

    If the author had done so, a number of his questions would have been answered - VW arent the only people doing it, they are just the ones who admitted guilt when confronted.

    Skoda and Seat owners have know something odd was going on for years - supposedly identical engines were getting different emission rating to those in a VW badged car.

  26. aBloke FromEarth

    "on hold"

    "global warming has actually been on hold since maybe 1998"

    Do we have to sit you down and talk to you about how maths works?

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/09/18/once-again-the-fauxpause-is-killed-by-actual-research/

    1. Bodhi

      Re: "on hold"

      http://judithcurry.com/2015/06/04/has-noaa-busted-the-pause-in-global-warming/

      The answer appears to be no. Like the misplaced condescension though! Good look!

      1. aBloke FromEarth

        Re: "on hold"

        Have you got a better source than Judith Curry? She has a well publicised track record of refuting reports which she transpires never to have read in the first place.

  27. The Quiet One

    Diesel is dead

    You'll have to excuse me while i keep my 2.4L Petrol Honda, V8 Land Rover and V6 Mondeo. Always knew Diesel was a bad thing, horrible filthy stuff. I am glad the truth is finally coming out.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Diesel is dead

      Diesel engines can run on much cleaner stuff than the filthy byproduct of gasoline production.

      1. oldie

        Re: Diesel is dead

        I actually filter my old veggie chip oil and turn it into miles every month or so, no problems when added to a full tank

  28. fangster

    So you're saying I should piss in my boiler?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Coat

      "So you're saying I should piss in my boiler?"

      Of course!. I don't want you to piss in MY boiler!

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      >So you're saying I should piss in my boiler?

      No in it's exhaust pipe/flue. But for best results it needs to be an ultra fine mist and sustained for however long the boiler is running... Coming to think of it, probably the best way would be to bubble the exhaust gases through a urea bath, just need to ensure there is no risk of cold liquids being sucked back into the hot boiler...

  29. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Adblue - are they taking the pi$$ ?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was a documentary on this on TV in the UK a few months ago; when they interviewed the then minister he said that nett CO2 emissions were the only factor considered (or even mentioned) when they were deciding to promote diesel over petrol.

    Of course politicians in these cases are largely dependent on their civil service for the information on which they base such decisions - as noted in Yes Minister an MP who knows about a subject is rarely appointed to the relevant ministry (or even select committee).

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Paul Shirley

    Slashdot now more credible than the Reg

    Pretty sad isn't it, while Slashdot is reporting another flow battery breakthrough, Lewis is busy deflecting blame from crooks in a fossil fuel industry. The S/N for tech news seems higher on a troll infested semi-anarchy than a purported tech news site (being satirical never used to stop the reg doing the tech bit as well).

    [BTW Still trying to find out if the description 'throbber' is a term of endearment in the navy...]

  33. Dexter
    Mushroom

    Nuclear

    Don't think for one minute that it was just hippies/Greenpeace/vegan sandal wearers who stopped us building more nuclear reactors.

    Big Oil had much to gain by scuppering nuclear power.

    Big Oil has lots of money and well paid lobbyists.

    They even seem to have convinced an El Reg columnist that burning lots of fossil fuels is fine.

    That's how good they are.

    Follow the money, folks.

    1. Bodhi

      Re: Nuclear

      Isn't the Green Industry worth about $1.5 trillion a year these days? Might explain why they are so determined to fudge the numbers to prove a point.

  34. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Adblue con ...

    The AdBlue (urea) additive is known to work (that's one way how VW cheated the tests), unfortunately, according to Bosch who produce the injector systems, it's not economic for a domestic 'user' to have a diesel fitted with one as the technique destroys the (required) cat and particulate filter over about 40k miles ... cost of replacement estimated at £1-1.5k

  35. Jim-234

    There is a simple solution to the whole problem.

    The issue is that Nobody will do it.

    Build the most modern nuclear power plants possible, as well as other smaller support plants designed for reusing / reducing waste materials down to next to nothing and have a few good storage spaces for things that must be buried in geologically suitable spots.

    Power things that are fixed or run on tracks with the electricity.

    For things that move, use the electricity to generate hydrogen from splitting water (NOT from reforming natural gas). Then have the moving things burn hydrogen either directly or via a fuel cell.

    Then you don't have to worry about offending the carbon god, or polluting the rest of the earth with other combustion byproducts or toxic battery materials. Nor will you have to worry about killing masses of wildlife off with wind turbines or solar collectors or trying to burn crops instead of eating them.

    But I guess if we did that, mankind could progress, and that would you know mess up the plans of those who think there should only be a few people running around living in caves and grunting prayers to the moon or something.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem is that the moment you try, the hair-shirts will scream out, "BOMBS!" since the best way to use nuclear fuel necessarily produces weapons-grade fuel along the way, and a desperate state agent will do ANYTHING to join the Nuclear Club: some of whom see MAD as a winning scenario.

      "But I guess if we did that, mankind could progress, and that would you know mess up the plans of those who think there should only be a few people running around living in caves and grunting prayers to the moon or something."

      Some of the hair-shirts really DO want that: a reduction of the human population by some 90% and a return to the days when people lived off the land, lived in darkness and only until around 40 or so, never went further afield than seven miles, and so on.

      1. DanielN

        "... the best way to use nuclear fuel necessarily produces weapons-grade fuel along the way ..."

        The best plutonium isotopes are produced for only a short time (a few months) when new fuel starts burning. After that much less favorable isotopes accumulate, including highly radioactive ones that produce a considerable amount of heat that would be troublesome in a bomb design. Making practical plutonium requires that the fuel be frequently removed and reprocessed, not left to burn for years.

        Isotope separation won't make it easier. If you are going to that much trouble, it's far easier to use safe, non-suspicious uranium.

        While civil power fuel could be used to make a bomb, it would be a flushing-money-down-the-toilet stunt, not a serious play at making a strategic arsenal.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The point is that, given we're talking state-level adversaries where as noted getting into the Nuclear Club can be worth just about any price (including keeping it under the cover of a civilian program), any way you can find to use fission fuel more efficiently necessarily relies on concentrating it, and concentrating it is also the way you obtain weapons-grade material. It's part and parcel which is why you can never completely separate the reactor from the bomb unless you're willing to put up with a lot of long-lived waste.

          Besides proliferation, breeder reactors tended to have other problems: particularly those reliant on sodium as the thermal medium (if you'll recall, sodium is very temperamental in the presence of water: even the water vapor that can naturally occur in the air), as now you have to be mindful of leaks.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IIRC the damage was done in the victoian era via coal burning houses, factories, ships and trains.

    The concentration of molecular polutants was already there in vast quantities but not monitored.

    Now we are all being taxed for past mistakes (or not) in one way shape or form.

    Tree huggers need to go plant more trees, whilst the rest of us Keep calm and carry on!

  37. sisk Silver badge

    nobody seriously thinks that the human race can power itself using renewables

    Not true. Some people think we can. Nobody who has actually seen the numbers mind you, but since when is policy driven by people who've actually bothered to learn something?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @sisk

      Raping the planet of its resources is unsustainable today, yet world population is due to rise 50% by the end of the century.

      Never mind generating enough renewable energy, nobody seriously thinks that the human race can survive. It's a just a massive game people play to delude themselves...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @sisk

        "Raping the planet of its resources is unsustainable today, yet world population is due to rise 50% by the end of the century."

        The global population is expected to peak at considerably less that 10B according to the latest estimates. After which it will decline. The number of children 0-15 has already stabilised at 1.9-2B and is not expected to increase again.

        The whole Malthusian obsession is for the most based on a lack of understanding of demographics and very old estimates. The world can easily feed and house ca. 10B people for a very long time.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: @sisk

          >The global population is expected to peak at considerably less that 10B according to the latest estimates.

          You may of missed the admission made a few months back that the assumptions made in the projections that caused the global population to plateau at circa 10bn, were incorrect...

          As for feeding and housing this level of population, well whilst the maths may suggest this may be achievable, real world on-the-ground politics is likely to say different...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @sisk

            "assumptions made in the projections that caused the global population to plateau at circa 10bn, were incorrect..."

            Citation needed.

            Since we are talking about demogrphic estimations, based on a set of known and unknown factors expected to influence the future, it is unlikely that they were "incorrect", as such an assertion is unprovable, the future having not yet arrived.

            I smell the foul stench of politically motivated manipulation of data coming ...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That makes no sense

    The cars weren't cheating to just to cut down on CO2 during normal driving, the motivation was to enable higher MPG and more power to be produced when not under test, at the cost of higher NOx emissions. CO2 may have swayed some people and it also determines the amount of tax, but presumably that figure is arrived at under some other test, which given their track record, they'd probably also cheat.

    The same situation could have occurred if no one had drawn a link between CO2 and global warming, but we still didn't want high levels of NOx. People would still want more powerful and fuel-efficient cars and if both of those attributes cause high levels of NOx, then there would still be the motivation to cheat the test by limiting the power of the engine.

  39. rdlaw7

    An old man

    Way back when emission systems started there was the EGR VALVE. Exhaust Gas Recirculation.. It's sole purpose was to recirculate the exhaust to eliminate or lower NOx. It was strictly mechanical.. Just a vacuum controlled diaphragm that would open based on engine load. Then came the catalytic converter and the air pump. Still no computers involved. Maby its time to bring back the EGR Valve and add that to the mix.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An old man

      I think that went out with the CO2 push since EGRs tended to trade in NOx emissions for CO2 emissions because they tended to make the engine run cooler.

  40. tm3508

    Smells like...

    There's a familiar smell about this article (I'm a regular Reg reader, and I've smelled it before in articles from Lewis). The only way I can imagine to describe it is like standing behind a cow, gripping it's flanks firmly with both hands, laying it's tail over your head, and leaning in for a good whiff. I jest, but you get the idea.

    Lewis - you make some valid points, such as that opposition to nuclear power or other large renewable projects by hippies, lefties, and other pantomime characters, is at best irrational, and at worst, outright damaging. But your argument is polluted (*ahem*) with factual inaccuracies, and your conclusion/premise (that hippies are indirectly poisoning us with NOx by moaning about CO2) is just way off.

    For a start, please refer to the European emissions standards for passenger vehicles (EC93, EC96, EC2000 etc). They cover CO2, NOX and other pollutants. Guess what, the limits all decrease over time. Yes, you're right, reduction of CO2 and reduction of NOx can be competing objectives if you just look at combustion temperature. Hence the incentive for VW to cheat the system. That doesn't mean that a reduction in both cannot (and is not being) achieved by proper engineering (VW cheating the system aside). Yes, there is an issue that a greater percentage of the cars on the road are now diesels vs petrols, and diesel cars product relatively more NOx, but this is not equated with an overall increase in NOx pollution. Read the DEFRA report on ambient measurements of NOx emissions in the UK from 2011. The overall trend in recent years has been downward, stable, or weakly downward. Not increasing.

    I'm no fan of hippies either, but I'm less of a fan of pseudo-science bull**** (from the Reg of all places) used to deny scientic concensus, especially when it comes from a position of authority or prominence, and of influence over significant readership base.

  41. Identity
    Boffin

    Not only a perfect example of overstated bias, but

    at times, verging on false. Take:

    "This means that energy from burning hydrocarbons, whether fossil or biofuel, must be used and produced much more efficiently: nobody seriously thinks that the human race can power itself using renewables. (In any case, in practice the hippies are against non-hydrocarbon renewables too.)"

    (emphasis mine)

    Recently, Germany achieved generating almost 80% of it's energy from renewables.

    <http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/08/01/nearly-80-percent-of-germanys-power-came-from-renewables-last-saturday/>

    As for nuclear, while I have in the past been against it, due to the waste problem, with the advent of molten salt reactors, I think we may have found a reasonable alternative to today's reactors. For those who think the waste is not a problem, I would point them toward the Hanford Reservation.

    <http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/hanford-nuclear-site-clean-mess-gets-worse-f2D11612868>

    <http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/will-hanford-ever-be-cleaned-up/>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not only a perfect example of overstated bias, but

      http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/08/01/nearly-80-percent-of-germanys-power-came-from-renewables-last-saturday/

      For ONE DAY in the middle of the freakin' SUMMER. IOW, under close to ideal conditions for the job, but to be a proper baseload source, it has to be able to perform even under worst-case scenarios, which would mean in this case in the winter solstice (lowest available sunlight) during a blizzard (too windy for turbines and the snow further blocks sunlight). At least nuclear ain't weather-dependent, and BTW, where did Germany get the remaining 20% of energy that day?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Not only a perfect example of overstated bias, but

        Germany imports much of its baseload from Poland, where they burn coal.

        They have successfully exported their soot, sulphur, CO2, radioactivity, etc to next country downwind.

        You can't help but admire the sheer balls of it - most people couldn't be that evil.

      2. Pedigree-Pete

        Where did Germany get their other 20% on that 1 day...

        My moneys on France.

        http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

        Pete

  42. Kevin 6

    Gah I wish they would stop listening to hippies

    Its been proven hippies have no idea what they are against many times as science is out of their grasp

    For evidence hippies signing a petition to ban water using the vocabulary, and tone hippies love to use to scare people.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi3erdgVVTw

    1. oldie

      Re: Gah I wish they would stop listening to hippies

      I have Hippies on the same level as many students, out of sheer boredom lets have a protest

  43. Frenchie Lad

    Hippies

    If you look at some of those in positions of power you can understand better the collusion between hippies and governments - Germany's an example and as for the EU ...

  44. Joe Gurman

    Not so fast, and not all hippies, neither

    There are serious environmental groups in the US, at least, that however regretfully, have also concluded that nuclear is the best form of electric power generation in the short term --- as long as research and development of better renewables is also pursued.

    And I don't know where you got the idea that "also these days in the USA" diesel is a major part of the transportation industry. In the personal transport area, diesels have never done well here; in the public transport, most major cities (perhaps thanks to our glut of fracked natural gas) are using condensed natural gas-powered buses instead of diesels (e.g. Washington DC). The CNG buses emit less than half the NOx of their diesel equivalents. And the California emission standards, which have been adopted by several other states, make non-urea-scrubbed diesels unlikely at best.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is all about R&D

    The elephant in the room that Page completely ignores is that the problem is not hippies. It is accountants, bankers and marketers.

    I spent several years back in the early 80s working for an engine R&D organisation. The bottom line is that most vehicle companies want to do as little R&D as they can possibly get away with because:

    Marketer: The public won't pay more for cars and all they want to see is more horsepower and a shorter 0-60 time.

    Banker: I don't lend you money to come up with airy fairy ideas, improvements must pay for themselves in the first year.

    Accountant: Why do we need engineers, we already know how to make cars, don't we? We need more cost accountants to keep an eye on where the money is going.

    The result is that designs well past their best before get tweaked and tweaked in an effort to stay current and nobody wants to develop anything new, except the pesky Japanese. All engineering is a set of tradeoffs but if you want something new in powertrains, starting out from "and it must be based on a thirty year old engine design" isn't an optimisation.

    Electronics have been used to fix some of the more resistant technical issues by varying injection rate, volume and timing. But if you look at companies that are actually incorporating new stuff into volume production, you are basically looking at Fiat's variable valve lift designs like the Twinair, and Honda and Toyota's variable inlet and exhaust timing. In powertrains, there is hybrid (all the essential work being Japanese) and CVT (again largely Japanese.) CVT allows the engine to run under more optimal conditions than a manual without the high losses of a slushbox. The GM Volt is basically a battery/electric system with an add on generator and the generator engine is nothing special. It is all good work but it is tinkering around the edges. (It is amazing that the Wankel got the attention it did, it was so obviously a set of engineering nightmares being forced into a hot little box.)

    The only people really doing radically new work are the ones working on fuel cells (like Toyota) and pure battery electric (like Tesla). But in terms of the world market, investment in both technologies is peanuts.

    We could develop technologies that would wipe out just about all vertebrate life on the plant in 20 minutes, we could put people on the Moon and get them back, but we have never had the collective guts to say "sod the oil industry, sod General Motors and the like, sod Jeremy Clarkson and his obsession with the spark ignition oscillating piston internal combustion engine, what is the best we can do to facilitate transport?"

    The US (and Europe) would have benefited from shooting all the lobbyists, whether Koch or Green, and locking a load of scientists and engineers in a Manhattan project for road vehicles, run by the military and with entrance barred to all politicians. The object would be to devise the power train which achieved the highest possible efficiency and the lowest possible toxic emissions. Then take whatever technology emerges and license it free to every vehicle manufacturer. It would probably take 20 years but had we started in the 1970s we wouldn't be in the present mess.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: It is all about R&D

      So how do we get there from here?

      It's no good saying "in 20 years we'll have a great system", because I for one expect to live through those years and want a decent standard of living throughout.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is all about R&D

        "So how do we get there from here?"

        Given that my idea of international cooperation and spending the sort of money on fixing IC engine problems that we spend on fusion research or fighter aircraft is a hippy fantasy, perhaps we just enforce the fscking regulations to the hilt and reward manufacturers for exceeding specifications. No car or truck maker is too big to be allowed to fail, even Volkswagen. We might see manufacturers forced to produce other companies designs under licence, we might see the average vehicle cost go up considerably, but the immediate problem will get fixed because too much depends on it.

  46. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    VW's fault, not hippies

    This is in no way "hippies" fault. Regarding CO2 reductions and so on, there are two points where you are wrong here. 1) These vehicles EASILY exceeded US fuel economy requirements; in no way was fuel economy requirements (or CO2 emissions) a factor for this behavior here in the US. 2) The VWs actually got artificially LOW mileage ratings at least here in the US, since virtually the only time the emissions controls actually worked was during the EPA tests. People want fuel efficient vehicles, this does not make them hippies.

    Second, diesel auto (and truck) makers in the US *EXCEPT* VW have had no problem using urea injection to reduce NOx adequately. This system has no impact on power or fuel economy (other than I guess whatever difference a few pounds of vehicle weight makes), since it's exhaust aftertreatment. Urea's not some exotic material, and (per google) I can go buy jugs of it at the auto parts store right now.

    I have been curious a few times if further emissions cuts are worth it, if they significantly compromise fuel economy. I mean, emissions were cut 50% between 1950s and 1970, just by requiring the crankcase fumes not be dumped onto the street, and using automatic chokes (for those who've never used a carbureted car, the automatic choke is where you pump the gas pedal once before you start the car, and the choke gives the cold engine the extra fuel it needs until it warms up.) Between then and 1990 emissions were cut 90% compared to 1970 levels (which were a 50% cut from pre-1970). Current standards are a 99% cut of 1970 levels.

    If car cos have no problem meeting a 95% cut, but have big problems meeting a 99% cut (without killing gas mileage and driveability) then perhaps these cuts should be rethought. That said, it seems like for the most part car cos have NOT had problems meeting emissions (except VW).

    1. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Re: VW's fault, not hippies

      Please read the link I posted earlier, and the link embedded in the quote, and you will see that MOST car makers arent actually meeting the NOx emission requirements - and please note we are talking about NOx, not CO/CO2

  47. arctic_haze Silver badge

    The Register and greenhouse gases

    I like to read The Register for interesting technology news served with a very nice kind of humour. But I skip all the global warming and CO2 related articles. I looked into this one but had to stop after the first paragraph.

    Why? Because I know it is rubbish. I do not care for hippies or Greenpeace. However I have a degree in atmospheric physics and have background in radiation transfer. I know exactly how greenhouse gases work and I see the authors of the climate related pieces in the Register do not have a clue.

    CO2 is a gas which affects climate, like it or not. We have already increased its atmospheric concentration by over 40% and increased the temperature of the planet by about 1 K (which is consistent with a climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 of about 3 K and transient sensitivity of 2K - lower because the oceans are not in balance with the forcings which we observe as warming). By the wat this sensitivity means we should have 0.14 K/decade of global warming with the 2 ppm of CO2 added to atmosphere every year. How much do we observe in the last 30 years? Yes, exactly 0.14 K/deg so all the hiatus talk is pure crap (especially with global warming records in 2014 and almost certainly in 2015).

    And even if we can ignore global warming (including its long-run consequences such as sea-level increase), there is another nasty effect of CO2. It is called ocean acidification. You an ignore it but creatures which try to build their CaCO3 skeletons in lower pH waters do not have this leisure.

    Generally, it is usually not wise to deny whole branches of science. That is until you are a new Einstein or Darwin? So is this such a case or do we have a simple case of clueless journalism?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Register and greenhouse gases

      "And even if we can ignore global warming (including its long-run consequences such as sea-level increase), there is another nasty effect of CO2. It is called ocean acidification. You an ignore it but creatures which try to build their CaCO3 skeletons in lower pH waters do not have this leisure."

      Given that this is not the highest levels of CO2 in history, you have to wonder how sea life coped...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Register and greenhouse gases

        The ocean is very strongly alkaline. The almost immeasurable changes simply reduce that alkilinity fractionally. The idea that the ocean would ever reach a pH of less than 7 (acid) is patently stupid.

        "Acidification" is a weasel word intended to dupe/scare the ignorant, which sadly seems to be an ever increasing portion of the population!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Register and greenhouse gases

          All the same, IIRC sea life can be pretty sensitive to ambient conditions (which is why anything affecting things like salinity are handled with care). Would a drop of pH from 8.2 to 8.1 really have that big an effect, and has the ocean ever had an even lower pH. If so, how low and when?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tl;dr

    THE HIPPIES'LL KILL US ALL!

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VW Tecnical Website Mysteriously Down!

    Has anyone else noticed the VW technical site is now "undergoing maintenance". Doh!

  50. jrwc

    World worshipers have trampled each other more than a trip to Mecca or Middle Easterners into Germany in order to gain the distinction of Best Protector Of The Planet by imposing more and more impossible edicts against "polluters," ie. breathing humans. Anyone who does not think that diabolical forces aren't at work in climate politics, just look at the factor fudging and sheer shrillness of the Climate Alarmists. The American EPA, President Obama and even the Pope are now involved in the charade. And they want deniers brought to world courts and even executed. Doesn't sound like very sound, sustainable science anymore does it?

  51. Wzrd1

    To El Reg

    I'll not discuss your occasional flip flop on climate change, however note your paid for stance. If you want the full information disclosed, I'll happily do so. Just think FANX.

    What I concern myself with is this; You seem to desire a return of the Great Smog.

    To be honest, I really don't care if Old Blighty does return to the Great Smog and the deaths and disease that ensued.

    But, I'll kindly ask you not to try to champion that against my nation.

    Lest I abuse my office and leak information I have access to that would badly damage your credibility.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: To El Reg

      The "Great Smog" as you put it is the direct result of the Sulphur Oxides that used to spew from every chimney at home and business. That's typically what happens when you burn soft coal or bunker oil. It was the primary source of acid rain and smog. When hard coal and refined de-sulphurized fuel oil and gasoline became commonplace, much of our smog went away.

      Funny thing though, due to emission regulations and a desire for greater efficiency, the resulting higher combustion temperatures and pressures in vehicles or boilers/furnaces is bringing up the amount of nitrogen oxides which also cause smog and acid rain.

      Lewis Page has never advocated a return to smog as you accuse him of, he has only advocated a levelheaded examination of nuclear power since it is literally "emission free". (Other than the waste)

      The fact is that the more recent developments (Thorium, Sodium) in Nuclear energy solve most of the problems the old technology faced. I do not see a "Pay for play" arrangement as you accuse.

      He does not believe in the manmade global warming religion and that I suspect is the sole reason most of you occasional posters come here to criticize him and his beliefs.

      Your threats are as hollow and baseless as is the whole religion. You must have watched enough "Captain Planet" years ago to brainwash a dozen people and now believe your own bluster.

  52. johnwerneken
    Mushroom

    Blame Believing in Something, and being an Activist

    ALL beliefs lead to this sort of cretinous behavior, whether its Communism Catholicism or Capitalism. Those who believe can worsen, and become ACTIVISTS. These people basically do not give a damn if they directly cause genocide, what they believe in to them at least is more important!

    As for me, I believe that all Activist Believers must be executed, and the rest of the Believers, castrated, and I am actively working on it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blame Believing in Something, and being an Activist

      "ALL beliefs lead to this sort of cretinous behavior"

      I believe that the universe runs on a consistent set of physical laws which can be determined and understood using the methodologies of science. Otherwise I would have to think that the laws of thermodynamics or quantum mechanics might suddenly start giving the wrong results due to random fluctuations in reality. My belief is unprovable as a belief in communism, but if I didn't have it I would have found it hard to summon up the enthusiasm to go to the lab in the morning.

      If you should decide based on this post to come round an execute me I must warn you that I will resist by attempting to bludgeon you to death with a copy of The metaphysical foundations of modern science or perhaps anything I have by Stephen Gould (heavier.)

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    of course the free market is all over this problem without any government interference, right?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HUH?

    "The basic problem is that air itself is a mixture of around 78 per cent nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2). When you burn hydrocarbon fuel, as the human race has done to obtain most of its energy for the last million years"

    I'll agree with this just as soon as they find remains of the HUMANS a MILLION YEARS OLD.

    Wonder if they included the Volcanoes, Forest Fires and Whale Oil in the study - oh and did they consider the Cavemen with their fires?

    I presume this all occurred AFTER the Dino's croaked....unless that's what did them in too.

    But more, I'd like to know what ASYLUM this Study was conducted at - and will the ever be released?

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