But what do we do if the Curajus State is incompetent?

The result has been that the air people breathe in cities and towns is now heavily polluted with toxic nitrogen dioxide, causing 23,500 premature deaths a year in the UK and affecting many schools. The government, whose inadequate plans have twice been declared illegal, will come up with a new, court-ordered strategy as soon as next week.

“We were told by the vehicle manufacturers the [diesel emissions] limits would be met and there was no problem,” said Greg Archer, who was managing the UK government’s air pollution research two decades ago, when new tax breaks led to the diesel boom. “What of course actually happened was those limits were not met on the road, as the car manufacturers started to turn down the after-treatment systems and cheat the tests.”

The government’s chief scientific adviser at the time, Sir David King, tells the same story: “I was convinced the [motor manufacturers] could manage the problem. It turns out we were wrong.”


You don’t have to go far to find an engineer who will point out that you cannot have all three of the following, low CO2, low NOX, cheap engines. Pick any two of the three and that’s all you can get. But government, and not just the UK one which is UnCurajus, ploughed ahead with the standards which assumed you could have all three.

So, what use a Curajus State when the state is fuckwits?

43 thoughts on “But what do we do if the Curajus State is incompetent?”

  1. It’s still a “consensus” and correct even when the consensus is completely wrong. If you don’t march in step with us over the cliff you are not part of the consensus.

  2. As with most regulations, the twin advances in technology and productivity were supposed to offset the tightening standards. If we were still using leaded petrol and our cars had two-stroke engines and no airbags or ABS, new cars would cost £2,500. Because we’ve tightened standards, the minimum price of a new car has remained relatively constant at around £6,000.

  3. These 23,500, or 29,000 or 40,000 (equivalent) deaths are a total (estimate) from all sources. Industrialization had resulted in a doubling of our lifespans before much of the modern anti-pollution programs came into place. Banning every modern appliance, cars, heating and electricity that caused this pollution to take us back to the 18th century would just shorten our lives by on average 1 month.

    40 years or 1 month….hmmmm I know which I want

    Diesel cars are only responsible for a tiny fraction of this. In London even with it’s high density for instance, diesel cars only generate 5% of this total.

    This diesel scare reminds me of the ongoing CO2 belief where a 150 year increase of 1.7W/square metre in back radiation is going to cause argmadeddon when compared to the existing variable 170 or so back radiation from natural sources.

    In both cases any action including a total ban will have bugger all effect – except as an excuse for more taxes

  4. “23,500 premature deaths”

    Oh aye–is that right.

    Which people exactly? People with Asthma say or other pre-existing conditions? Or rather a tiny percentage of them whose problems might–might—have been made worse by NO2. How many autopsies every year show NO2 poisoning as the cause of death?

    And how many people would die worldwide if all diesels were to disappear?

    Eco-freak bullshit.

  5. Erstwhile Chief Scientific Advisor Sir David King was paid and gonged not to be wrong.

    Now he’s telling us that his predictions on diesel emissions were someone else’s predictions and those were wrong.

    He chose who to believe and what to believe: some ‘expert’!

    Can we also assume this poor level of performance on other things he predicted/decided/believed – like CAGW is true? If not, why not?

    Best regards

  6. Not what I said at least, you can only have 2 of the 3. To get low both you need the urea bit on the engine – expensive.

  7. A feature, not fuckwittery.

    Make up some stupid rules that are impossible to comply with.
    Then fine the maker or his customer for non compliance.

    Trebles all round!

  8. Bloke in Wiltshire

    ““We were told by the vehicle manufacturers the [diesel emissions] limits would be met and there was no problem,” said Greg Archer, who was managing the UK government’s air pollution research two decades ago, when new tax breaks led to the diesel boom. “What of course actually happened was those limits were not met on the road, as the car manufacturers started to turn down the after-treatment systems and cheat the tests.”

    A roman emperor would have told such a man that he should do the honourable thing and that in return, his wife and children would be taken care of. Not sure what we do about it today.

    You fucked up, Greg Archer. You don’t even have the honour to admit you fucked up. No, you can’t go blaming the barbarian hordes for overrunning the borders. That’s what the barbarian hordes do. Your job was to secure the borders and you failed.

    I’ve worked on projects buying in software and if you’re a test manager, you’d get canned for taking that tone. The assumption is always that the supplier is going to take the piss and it’s your job to stop them.

  9. As far as “conniving” is concerned Damian Carrington has a considerable amount of previous.

    Having a small horse in this race (LPG fueled car) and paying attention to the antics of TfL…. the removal of the congestion charge concession for gas vehicles some 2 years back tells its own story. The word is that there were “too many” cleaner burning vehicles being used and the take was dropping.

    go figure

  10. ‘causing 23,500 premature deaths a year in the UK’

    Habeas corpus. Let’s see some death certificates.

  11. I know someone who does intensive engine testing / stressing for one or two of the car manufacturers.

    A while back a few of us were having a conversation on this diesel issue, and he sort of sniggered / implied there was more to it, and said something along the lines of “wait for what comes out on petrol”. Something to do with very fine particles, or whatever? The subject changed and I’ve not since had the chance to explore further.

    Any of you engineering bods might have an idea as to what he was hinting at?

  12. Apparently the average traffic speed in London has been decreasing in recent years. Might slower, idling traffic lead to poorer quality air?

    Tightening air quality regulations have outpaced reasonable expectations of new vehicle uptake and are perhaps also being confounded by increased congestion and increased wood burning?

    Rob said:

    It’s still a “consensus” and correct even when the consensus is completely wrong. If you don’t march in step with us over the cliff you are not part of the consensus.

    There is a theory called post-normal science: where a matter is urgent and facts are uncertain you should seek a consensus, giving all interested parties and evidence a fair hearing in order to achieve that. And yes, it doesn’t matter if we get things wrong so long as we’re all in agreement that we are taking the ‘right’ steps.

    Climate science activists love the idea of post-normal science except for the bit of giving everyone a fair hearing. That’s why they prefer to squash dissent and distract from the uncertainties in the science rather than seek better knowledge and a genuine consensus.

  13. According to government’s own stats (sorry you’ll have to find them yourself) ca. 15% of congestion is attributed to mis-timed / improperly configured traffic signals.

    I’m not saying that that 15% can be reduced to zero – but that such an obvious contributory factor to pollution isn’t apparently being addressed – is surely a pretty big indictment of the incompetence of public servants who are now looking to hound and ransom road users.

  14. 15% of congestion?
    Most of the congestion I come across is simply too many vehicles using too small an area at the same time. Lots of it on the motorway back when I was driving – not that many traffic signals between junction 14 and junction 10 of the M6 causing congestion.
    There are roads where traffic is congested and there aren’t any traffic signals in that area.

  15. “The government’s chief scientific adviser at the time, Sir David King, tells the same story”: King is an arse, and was a disgrace to his office.

  16. “increased wood burning”

    Ha. I was chatting to my neighbour this afternoon as I was chopping up a tree I’d had to remove. She commented that several neighbours have wood piles and are “being environmental by burning wood”. I replied: “yes, like it was in the 1930s before we had pollution control laws”.

  17. What is it with this urea shit?

    OK, you can stop reading now becasue I’m going to defend a public servant.

    Urea about the cheapest bulk chemical? Maybe apart from sulphuric acid. If the water company charges me for taking it away, and Volkvagon tells me it’s too expensive to put in diesel motors, who is taking the piss?

    I can well see that putting in a filter for 1,000 cars might cost £1,000 a piece. But putting it in 5,000,000 cars? Some pissfarting cost per unit.

    I’m not the chemist who pointed out on here that installing filters cost more than the third party pollution. If that’s true, then ignore this again. MAOR taxes!

  18. The renewal of diesel engines in buses, and probably taxis, is the single biggest improvement there has been.in London in the last 20 years.

    It would also be interesting to know how much the goalposts have moved in terms of air quality. If its anything like Paris, the air in the city would have been declared pure 10 years ago.

    As it is, I regularly cycle in town and do not get dirty nostrils, so I’m pretty sure we’re good.

    but, MOAR TAX

  19. Which people exactly?

    Normally you’ll find it somewhere in the small print of the study. Usually it’s something like ‘old farts and people with serious respiratory problems who would probably have died a couple of weeks later anyway’.

    Basically, ‘premature deaths’ is completely bogus, like most of the eco-nutter claptrap.

  20. “Basically, ‘premature deaths’ is completely bogus, like most of the eco-nutter claptrap.” Quite so; and yet there’s a rational alternative available. How odd that it’s not used.

    “The quality-adjusted life year or quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) is a generic measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived. It is used in economic evaluation to assess the value for money of medical interventions. One QALY equates to one year in perfect health.”

  21. “23,500 premature deaths”

    How premature? 1 hour? 1 day? 1 month? 1 year? 10 years?

    Without an accurate time the claim is scaremongering (fake news)

    Diesel euro emissions were never realistically achievable.

    1992 Euro 1: NOx – n/a : Particulates – 0.14g/km
    2000 Euro 3 NOx – 0.50g/km : Particulates – 0.05g/km
    2014 Euro 6: NOx – 0.08g/km : Particulates – 0.005g/km

  22. How is premature defined?

    If my life expectancy was xx years at birth and I died from being run over at xx plus 5 years was the being run over the cause of the premature death or was the known medical issues?

    I have usually pretty good breathing. I go shopping sometimes and come across a shopper or staff member who has basically bathed in perfume – I cannot breathe due to coughing. The road pollution isn’t a problem, the exercise isn’t a problem, the being where someone just was 2 minutes ago and scent left behind is the problem.
    If I die from it then is it a premature death due to breathing difficulties? Probably. But nothing to do with village air quality and quite a lot to do with too much of something my body cannot handle being airborne near me.

    Ever come across people like that? Usually women, occasionally men.

  23. “It is used in economic evaluation to assess the value for money of medical interventions.”

    Sounds bogus to me.

  24. PF, probably a reference to the PM 2.5 and smaller particulate output of direct injection petrol motors. VAG especially has gone heavily into direct injection (petrol into the cylinder directly like a diesel) as it is more accurate and promotes both power and economy. However for some reason this actually increases the proportion of very fine particulates in the exhaust.

    As for Urea, the real issue isn’t the cost of the Urea, it is the mechanism needed to store and deliver the appropriate amounts into the exhaust system when needed. And the Urea has to be refreshed regularly. If a vehicle is new and is properly serviced it will probably happen, but as they age, probably not. It isn’t for a fact that cheap to install, and it really has nothing to do with the cost of Urea, that’s incidental.

    The issue really is around turbocharging. The only suitable way (found so far) to produce a Diesel engine with an adequate power output for passenger vehicles is to use forced induction – a turbo typically though you could supercharge as well. This however increases the temeprTure and pressure in the cyclinder to the point where the N2 in the induction air is fairly easily reacted with O2 to form a mix of nitrogen oxides, mostly NO, NO2, and I think some N2O3. If you have a somewhat sensitive nose you can certainly smell this as diesel accelerates past you. It is also the main cause of the brown haze that forms over some places in the right conditions, NO2 has quite a dark brown colour.

  25. Martin

    damn … all the pie charts I can find now put poorly timed lights at 5% of congestion. The latest TfL report actually seems to think its not an issue… see p170 here There was a pie chart on the DoT gov.uk domain I found about a month ago that gave that 15% number. Ten years ago the rash of new lights in London were deemed an issue – what changed ?

    My experience in a provincial town is that lights are installed as an adjunct to municipal pride and little thought (as in none) is given to their effect on traffic beyond “controlling it”.

    Little old Portishead binned the lights on a cross road in the centre of town several years ago – and the congestion nigh on disappeared and the accidents dropped to zero…

  26. Pollution due to congestion ? This is such an obsolete problem.

    Stuck in traffic ? Drive on the pavement. Sure the are some externalities to mop up but you can’t stand in the way of progress. No, literally, you can’t.

  27. Bloke in Japan (in Cambridge)

    @Corvus Umbranox: precisely. If you don’t like the way I drive then stay off the footpath. Anyway, people too poor to drive (aka pedestrians) shouldn’t be allowed out.

  28. Basically the French and the Germans did what they always do, stitch up a deal with the EU to suit their manufacturing industry while the Brits did what they increasingly do which is to impose clearly ridiculous green nonsense on the British public by way of fines and subsidies. Now the Americans have done what they always do, which is to use their ludicrous Tort system to bankrupt the competition and promote American manufacturing (see also banking) The result is that now the European car industry is completely stuffed. They have put everything into diesel which, in the UK at least, is going to be a dead zone. Meanwhile Asia has been building increasingly efficient hybrid electric vehicles. I would expect Nissan to start producing a variation on their new e-note – electric drive, petrol engine used purely to charge the battery – in their UK factory. Small battery, so light, very low emissions, 80mpg and 500 miles of range. The e-note just took over from the Prius as the best selling car in Japan and it looks like Asian manufacturers are going to do to European autos what they did to Detroit in the 1980s

  29. Since I drove a convertible in the UK, I never understood how diesels were supposed to be ‘green’ when they were constantly blasting clouds of black smoke in my face.

    Diesel cars are pretty much dead here in Canada, too. We have six parking spaces at work dedicated to diesel cars because they need the block heater on all the time in winter whereas the petrol parking spots only turn on about 2pm to warm up the engine before the end of the day. I’ve never seen a car parked in one.

    But then, European cars are extremely rare anyway, because they’re too expensive and unreliable by North American standards. People here don’t like paying for any maintenance more complex than an oil change every year or two.

  30. — “Habeas corpus. Let’s see some death certificates.”

    And at a stroke the entire field of epidemiology is dismissed.

  31. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Little old Portishead binned the lights on a cross road in the centre of town several years ago – and the congestion nigh on disappeared and the accidents dropped to zero…”

    Naked streets is an interesting project

    How do we improve road safety in residential areas? The answer’s simple: make it riskier.

    Naked streets is a concept developed by Dutch traffic engineer, Hans Monderman, who proposed that by creating a greater sense of uncertainty and making it unclear who has right of way on a street, drivers reduce their speed and all street users increase their level of risk compensation. This last principle originates from behavioural theory that suggests people adjust their behaviour in response to the perceived level of risk: in riskier environments, pedestrian and drivers respond by behaving more safely.

    That Portishead experiment

    There is (was?) a large roundabout just off Stockley Park near the the other side of M4 spur road that was a nightmare, except when the lights failed. Then traffic would flow as drivers concentrated on the traffic around them instead of trying to get through the lights at the next change. Far less blocking of exits and cutting up and far more eye contact and courtesy.

  32. Ed Snack

    PM 2.5 – thanks for that. Interesting, and which in the UK perhaps also steers us back to the effects of wood burning stoves and similar.

    I’m curious to follow up next time I see the chap.

  33. What do you mean “if the Curajus State is incompetent”? Surely that should be “when”.

    Here is Mark Carney instructing all the banks in London to come up with a contingency plan for Brexit before July. Trouble is none of the banks have a clue what Brexit will be like. That lies in the hands of Carney’s boss and his cabinet colleagues who simply tell us “Brexit means Brexit”.


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