Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, through his weekly podcast, Great Moments in Science, says we haven’t heard the last of the infamous Volkswagen fraud. Volkswagen’s decision to rig diesel cars rigged with software that cheated emissions tests could prove more serious than was initially thought.
Citing the New York Times, Dr Kruszelnicki’s claims that between 2008 and 2015, Volkswagen sold 11 million diesel cars whose engine system was tampered with and as a result more 1,200 people in Europe alone may have met an early death due to emissions from these vehicles. A study by MIT Professor Steven Barrett titled “Public health impacts of excess NOx emissions from Volkswagen diesel passenger vehicles in Germany” appears to back this claim.
Air pollution is ranked fifth behind high blood pressure, smoking, high blood sugar, and cholesterol as significant risk factors behind premature deaths. Air pollution also has serious monetary ramifications; a joint study by the World Bank and the University of Washington estimated that air pollution costs the entire world economy about $US5 trillion each year.
Dr Kruszelnicki lays the blame squarely at the feet of Volkswagen and other car manufacturers that produce cars with high emission levels and believes they’re raking in profits at the expense of the community.
There is some hope though. Prof. Steven Barrett and his team estimate that if Volkswagen were to recall and fix the vehicles in question to comply with European emission regulations, an extra 2,600 premature deaths would be avoided, and the European community would save 4.1 billion euros in health costs.
Whether this is likely to happen remains an open question.