Going Up in Fumes: Why the Volkswagen Scandal is So Outrageous
by Jake Krajewski | published Oct. 3rd, 2015
Despite what some conservatives might claim, it's no secret to most of us that pollution is a major issue facing the world today. So, when a company deliberately lies in an attempt to make a profit at the expense of the world itself, how can we stand by and do nothing?
This is the case with the automobile company Volkswagen (VW), who has been accused of altering their cars' software in order to cheat their way through the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions tests.
The accusation first arose when the California Air Resources Board and the EPA noticed that VW's diesel-fueled cars passed the laboratory emissions tests, but failed the road tests spectacularly. In fact, the cars are reported to have been emitting over 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxides, an air pollutant that is capable of causing respiratory diseases, worsening heart disease and even premature death. When pressed for an explanation, Volkswagen admitted that they had installed "defeat devices" in their diesel cars. A defeat device is a program in the car's software designed to detect when the car is being tested for emissions by recognizing the patterns of acceleration, deceleration and turning that the tests use. When the software detects a test, it sends a signal to the car to operate at "dyno calibration," which is a mode of peak emission efficiency. As soon as the test is over, however, the software switches the car to "road calibration," which spews the incriminating pollution. It is believed that VW cheated because lowering their emissions would have meant weakening the engine and lowering fuel efficiency.
Volkswagen consciously decided to poison the air in the name of improving sales. Owners of the defeated cars should soon be receiving word of how to have their cars are fixed to emit the allowed levels of exhaust free of charge, if they haven't already. Even then, how many people will actually take their cars in to be fixed? Without the repairs, the cars are still legal to drive and resell. The government has also issued a recall for all affected cars, which stretch all the way back to some 2009 models.
If VW is convicted, they stand to face a fine of up to $18 billion. Even with this harsh penalty, how can any of us be sure that they won't find another way to try and cheat their way to the top? How can we know that the next line of cars they release won't also be spraying poison into the atmosphere? There have always been companies willing to do underhanded things in the name of profit, going all the way back to the child-filled textile mills of the 19th century. We cannot tolerate dishonesty that endangers lives; VW cars should be boycotted. In fact, a boycott may not be that difficult, as buyer's guide "Consumer Reports" has suspended their recommendations associated with the defeated cars until they are given a chance to test the repaired versions.
With our world rapidly approaching a state of environmental emergency, this scandal hits like a kick in a sensitive area of the male anatomy. We cannot be silent while a corporation throws toxins into the air in an attempt to make more money.
Besides, what good will that money do them when we all run out of clean air to breathe?