Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TDI's Will Outlive Mankind

In 2012 Stephen Hawking theorized that Mankind's only chance for long term survival was to leave the Earth.  We were simply too destructive to our home and Earth had long since lost its ability to support our chosen lifestyles in a sustainable manner.  Terraforming Mars was tossed about.

This would be done by building massive factories on the surface of Mars that would generate greenhouse gases. This would bolster the very thin Martian atmosphere and help retain heat, warming the planet. This would allow water in a liquid state which makes sustaining life as we know it possible. Well, I guess I don't have to elaborate on the massiveness of such a project or the decades that it would take to achieve this.  Besides, growing evidence suggests that we don't have nearly that much time anyway.

It is no longer a secret that we as a species have already put ourselves into a hole that roughly 50% of us may not be able to climb out of.  Even if all man-made greenhouse emissions were stopped today, the damage has already been done.  Like a runaway freight train, its simply too late to apply the brakes.  But at the same time, is it not better to hit the wall at 30 mph than 50?

So we institute laws, rules and promote feel good measures to reduce our carbon footprint, (Remember back in the day, not so long ago when we thought this would be enough?) focusing on the two industries that first came to mind; personal transportation and public utilities.

And that makes sense, right? I cannot tell you how bad it is when I am sitting on I-5 in a sea of idling vehicles in daily stop and go traffic. Its hundreds of tailpipes creating an exhaust severe enough that noticeable irritation of sinuses is prevalent.   The next logical step in this blog would be to post links to the relationship of respiratory ailments and proximities to freeways.  But no need. The subject has gone haywire with hundreds of studies linking Childhood Asthma,  Autism, and Cancer, etc...

The same thing applies to Coal burning power facilities. They are hampered by smokestacks that can be seen for miles.  The smog created daily reminders of the effects the stacks had.  Shortly after moving to Washington State in 1986, I went to Seattle and like most first timers, went up to view the city from the Space Needle.   Despite it being a very warm Summer day without a cloud in the sky, I was unable to see Mt. Rainer. There was sign that showed where it should be and it did say that on some days, the mountain was visible, but alas, it was not to be the day I was there.  But, I would be redeemed. In 2013 I flew my Son out from Ohio to say goodbye to my Dad and we visited the Space Needle and the Mountain was in plain sight. It was so clear it was hard to believe that it was nearly 100 miles away. It seemed like it was just a few miles away! (being real tall helped...)

So, our diligence was helping. We had completely cleared up the skies of Seattle! The sign stating where Mt. Rainer should be was no longer there cause it just was not needed. But why was all our efforts not really helping?  Well, its because we can't handle the real issue.

As we all "know",  aliens are now considered real and this is something the Government has been covering up for decades because they felt we could not handle it.  Be it true or not, hiding or minimizing issues is something Uncle Sam has been doing since day one. So what is the issue we should be really looking at?

If you have Netflix streaming I recommend you watch  Cowspiracy.   The documentary like most emphasizes the facts that help its message while minimizing or ignoring ones that do not so like any documentary, watch it with an open mind. Nevertheless, some of the facts are simply too much to ignore and are verifiable thru other sources with simple Google searches.  Keep in mind; despite Air Supply's claim, we need more than air and love to survive...

** Each pound of Beef that reaches your table uses 441 gallons of fresh water. This is actually the lowest estimate I could find. There are several that have VERY wild figures but I will pass on them for now.

**The Amazon Rain Forest aka "Lungs of the Earth" is the greatest carbon sink on the planet by an enormous margin so it would make sense that we protect it right since it takes out the carbon in the air that we put in, right??  Weeeeelll, not quite. In fact 80-90% of the deforestation of the rain forest is due to converting the land into cattle grazing fields. But that is only half the problem.  Instead of logging the area and converting it responsibly (at a considerable cost) we have elected to burn the forest which simply adds to the air quality issue, BIG TIME!

So what does all this add up to?  *sniff*... hate this part, its very depressing but... there is a silver lining (at least I justify it in my head as so...) and that is transportation (including those belching TDIs) only account for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions which I take to mean that EVs are making an impact!!


Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

unfortunately, that is only the beginning as Cows fart a LOT emitting Methane which is 20 times more potent in "keeping it warm" than plain old Carbon Dioxide. 

Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.

Wow.... all that just so I can get a Big Mac.  If you thought fast food was damaging to your personal health, this should illustrate that a prosecutor has a strong case of Manslaughter against you if you take that bite...

So why is this not known?  Well, actually in the scientific community, its known, very well known and has been for decades but this requires a wholesale shift of our lifestyle and that I am afraid is a hurdle that makes adopting an 80 mile EV a piece of cake. 

So now you are wondering "What has this got to do with TDIs and VW?  Not going to go into detail about Volkswagen's  wanton disregard for the rules and regulations that govern what we are allowed to drive in this country. By now, I doubt there is anything new to discuss.  What I am willing to say is that despite our overwhelming need to have a knee jerk reaction commiserate to the severity of VW's action, I am afraid it just aint gonna happen. 

Just as we did not let GM fail despite their doing everything they could to deserve it, we won't let VW fail either.  They still put out a great product and it remains to be seen how hampered that product will be when they have to follow the same rules as everyone else but I am guessing we will see no more than a token fine along with some petty cash to current owners if the performance and efficiency is significantly affected by the fixes.  Besides, its not like VW will get off scot free. They have already lost 48 Billion in stock value, have had to halt sales in the US and have already earmarked several billion this quarter to pay to fix the half million cars out there. 

Besides; they are one of the few (very few) companies out there that has a semi-ambitious EV rollout planned (or least are willing to talk about it...)  so gotta keep em around for just a bit longer!


  1. I have a TDI..only it's an '04 Passat so it's before the "clean diesel" program.

    While it is a great road car and now that most all of the sulphur has been removed from the fuel, it's way cleaner than it was when sulphur was 550 PPM..(won't smoke now, ) I am embarrassed to drive it after this horrific act on VW's part. I can't imagine ever buying anything from VW..the deceit has just been too great.

    (I drive my Leaf 95% of the time, using the Passat to go to my WI place as the distance is too great for the Leaf..but a Tesla would make it!! Donations anyone? Ha Ha.)

    I was aware of the meat issue and personally only eat meat about twice a month, which is about the number of times I drive the Passat!!

    Enjoy your blog.



    1. Thanks for the comments, Tom! Ya, its been a pretty big mistake on VW's part and I can't for the life of me fathom how they thought they would never be caught. The only possible explanation is they felt the penalty would simply not be all that bad which leads me to believe that the fix is not very expensive but then again, if it wasn't that much more money, why take the risk?

      Guessing the fix will affect performance taking the "fun" out of driving them. Looks like all the Priuses will soon have a lot of company in the slow lanes :)

    2. I am a new LEAF owner (bought 10/3/2015) and my two ICEs are a 2006 New Beetle TDI and a 2009 Jetta Sportwagen TDI.

      I am not embarrassed to drive my TDIs, because I use 98% renewable diesel (Propel Fuels Diesel HPR "green diesel" - Neste Oil NEXBTL) that became available in early 2015 around where I live. That means that 98% of the CO2 generated by my TDI would be used by the plants to grow that fuel. So the non-cyclic part of it would be refining the plants into renewable diesel and transporting it from Finland/Netherlands/Singapore to the US. (Before 2015, I was using 20% biodiesel, which is largely non-cyclic, but still better than 100% dinosaur diesel.) In comparison, my LEAF uses electricity from the grid in California, 44% of which comes from burning natural gas, 6% from burning coal, and 15% from "unspecified sources" (2014 data).

      So why did I buy a LEAF? The main reason was the HOV sticker, after several failed carpools and the current carpool not being happy with the time spent in traffic. Combined with the clearance prices on 2015 LEAFs right now ($5k dealer discount + $5k NMAC cash w/ 0% APR for 6 years), the government incentives ($7.5k federal tax credit + $2.5k CA rebate), and free charging at work (again, bad for the environment because I'm using peak grid power, but $0 fuel costs), I am paying $100/month for a new car with an HOV sticker. If my current carpool (without a DL) continues, I get that $100/month back since I'm doing all the driving. Finally, having an EV allows me to switch to the EV rate, which according to my historic data usage, would save me $50 per month.

      So because of economics, politics, and traffic, I have actually become worse for the environment, and I put all this info in my CVRP survey (who knows if anyone will read it). If they were to give my diesel an HOV sticker for using 98% renewable diesel, I would have stayed in it and be more green.

      As for the NOx issue, the 500k cars in the US is estimated to emit 10k - 40k tons of NOx per year, instead of the expected 1k. In comparison, the UK emitted 350k just for energy production (a lot from coal) and 1000k total in 2013. (The reason the US doesn't generate much NOx for energy production is cheap natural gas)

    3. Thanks for the comments Leonard and I would normally jump on a 2015 close out deal but stories are leaking about a 60 kwh LEAF due out in a few years! Now that is what I want!

    4. I have a friend and a co-worker who also jumped on a 2015 close out deal after I told them the details. Without the deal, all 3 of us would not be EV drivers and owners. I didn't even look at the other EVs on the market because of the price, as most manufacturers sold only a few as compliance cars.

      The combination of a 24 kwh battery, low gas prices, and too much production generated the ideal conditions for us to buy. A 60 kwh battery would likely increase demand significantly. But all 3 of us only use ~10 kwh roundtrip per day, so a 2015 LEAF would work for us for a long time. Your needs max out the current battery, so a larger battery is almost a must.