The Clean Diesel Myth

BY MATTHEW CORRIGAN

Well who’d a thunk it? Diesel was supposed to be the Great Green Hope. At least it seemed that way at the turn of the century, when our then Magnificent Leader (currently making a few quid here and there having helped to make the Middle East a nicer kinda place) joined with his conniving cabal of continental cronies to tax everyone out of petrol cars because CO2 was, like, so uncool.

Way, way back in the late nineties, in the heady days of Global Warming (remember that, eh, Tyndall Centre?), diesel hardly featured in the automotive sales figures. Then came the terror of CO2. Vehicle-related carbon dioxide was going to suffocate the planet – within about six years, as I recall. Buying wholesale into the myth, the Government ignored the warnings. A solution was required and, as usual, the solution was tax.

Tony and his pals, Gerhard, Jacques et al, would no doubt have heard those industry experts who sensibly cautioned against the proliferation of diesel, but they caved in to pressure from the ever-strident Green Lobby. And here’s where it gets a bit complicated. One would never have thought that the evil motor industry would find consensus with the screeching, save-the-planet simpletons who wish to ban modern life (except for iPhones (obv). And Starbucks), but find it they very much did.

Leaping enthusiastically aboard the envirobollocks bandwagon, Europe’s carmakers found they could easily pull the wool over the eyes of consumers and legislators alike by creating the myth of clean diesel.  Diesel cars, previously rattly, sluggish affairs beloved only of minicab firms, saw rapid development. NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) was dialled out and large turbochargers were added. Working in the industry at the time, I remember being genuinely shocked at the almost-overnight refinement. And yet, good as they were, they still burned diesel.

It didn’t take long for fleet companies to realise that heavy oil attracted much lower penalties. The news trickled down to the car-buying public and the switch began in earnest.  Without boring everyone with figures, sales of oil-burning cars absolutely rocketed. And so what if air quality drastically worsened in our towns and cities? A few thousand premature deaths from asthma-related conditions didn’t matter – there were bloody polar bears to save.

Clean diesel, of course, does not exist. It seems the noxious fumes belched by all these marketing-dream tailpipes are far more injurious than those of the petrol-driven family hatchbacks they replaced en masse. And now it’s coming home to roost. This time, our cars really are poisoning us.

Why on earth does anyone still listen to the Greens? This constant ‘we told you so’ is getting very boring:

The Green Lobby prevented Shell from disposing of the Brent Spar oil rig in a Norwegian fjord. It was wrong about that.

The Green Lobby insisted councils implemented, at huge cost, extensive recycling schemes. Criminality has burgeoned throughout the waste industry.

Today ‘waste management’ plants burst into flames at an alarming rate, their columns of acrid smoke towering high into the sky, spewing carcinogens for miles around.  It was wrong about that.

The Green Lobby campaigned against nuclear energy (somehow managing to conflate nuclear power with nuclear arms in the collective conscious of a frightened 1980s public). Renewable energy has utterly failed to deliver, putting thousands of lives at risk from the cold each winter. The Green movement got that one wrong too.

And now the cars they made us buy are killing us. Some time ago an article in what remains of The Independent – The Independent for God’s sake, bastion of the conscientiously Right-on – reported claims that 51000 people might have died prematurely from respiratory problems caused by diesel pollution. This morning the BBC brings us the news that the mayors of Paris, Athens, Mexico City and Madrid are planning to ban diesel from their cities by the middle of next decade. Could the aforementioned 51000 represent the iceberg’s tip? We wait to find out.

It has been suggested that environmental activists are ‘watermelons’ – green on the outside but red within, that in reality they are communists. If only. The communist threat receded years ago. These people are far, far more dangerous.

Matthew Corrigan is a Country Squire Guest Writer and a superb author whose excellent novel OSPREY shines a satirical light on a dodgy politician with a flying wind turbine scam. His books can be found here

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6 thoughts on “The Clean Diesel Myth

  1. The devil is in the detail. As a Diesel user of over 55 years,and Engineer, I see the BROADER BIG PICTURE. – Although there are some worthy comments articulated, above, Most people ( includes Politicians ‘law graduates ?’ ) do not see or understand the whole picture. As a society, we have too many who seek to control without the knowledge of how to “drive” – akin to too many stuffed dummies behind the steering wheel – ‘licensed to be there’ – but absolutely no idea of how to do it and cause huge tailbacks in Life’s progress ahint them.
    – Diesel engines were originally used in Commerce – Trucks n tractors where those concerned got to know how to use and service them – took a long time. Little engines for small jobs, large engines for the long run big jobs – practice finding that when engines ran for short periods, they sludged up, etc from running cold….and so on ( technicalities I’ll skip ) With my involvement in Education and associated with the Auto trade, I see so many tales of woe. Now this also occurs in recent times with PETROL engines too – just that as discussed above, the Petrol engines , despite all the ECO- talk about fuel consumption are still getting bigger. One observes small bodied cars with large displacement engines commensurate with the engines of Stately vehicles of my youth. It’s a case of “my chrome badge says I’ve a bigger , or more of , than yours’ mentality . Indeed, partly to massage the problems of heavier cars through the continuing developments of added accessories PLUS safety aids, engine horsepower had to increase. This problem became a driving vehicle to increase engine power in general. Petrol already had the lead in terms of power to weight, but rapid development through following the Green gravy-trail subsidies, Diesels developed in great leaps and bounds. Today’s diesel engine no longer bears much resemblance to its forebears – especially when covered up under the bonnet of vehicles. Remove that plastic cover and what do you see…. even beats me nowadays – Cables and pipes and boxes and belts and …I dunno – who cares? I’ll not be buying into the scam. I run old fashioned simple & small engines. get hot quickly, very economical -“run on fresh air” – so that little is burnt to cause ANY pollution in the first place. THAT , readers is the CRUX of the problem – Using bigger and bigger engines to ( read as more and more powerful engines) overcome the problems we create by demanding the extra comfort features for the short trips we tend to do. The MASS of engine material doesn’t get to optimum working / running temperatures, so we don’t get the MPG quoted by the Manufr’s yet we chuck out so much half-burnt fuel thru’ the exhaust and as it suffocates by blocked filtration systems, we burn EVEN MORE fuel to get the problem resolved at our Dealers, etc etc – how many round trips have been made consuming oodles of our time and fuel ( 2nd car to go & Collect 1st car) etc etc.
    All because the Green Lady Loves….. oil trays ….

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  2. Actually the Shell plan was to ‘Deep Six’ the Brent Spar in the Mid-Atlantic. The compromise was to cut it up and use it as foundations for a jetty in a Norwegian Fjord, a vastly more expensive and potentially more environmentally harming operation.

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  3. I am not specifically familiar with the emissions standards in the U.K. but I do know about the U.S. – and clean diesel is a reality here.

    Due to standards developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board (the most stringent state air agency in the world):
    – Advanced diesel engine designs and emission control technologies were developed to meet strict tailpipe emissions standards for new commercial vehicles manufactured in 2007 and the stricter standard established for 2010.
    – Thanks to the clean diesel system found on new and newer diesel commercial vehicles, it takes about 60 of today’s trucks to generate the same level of emissions as just one truck manufactured in 1988.
    – Over the last 10 years, emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks, buses and other vehicles have been reduced by 99 percent for nitrogen oxides (NOx) – an ozone precursor – and 98 percent for particulate emissions.

    These advancements are all mandated and confirmed by EPA and CARB. Clean diesel does exist if you really want it.

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