Monday, April 11, 2005
Playing Games With Emission Claims
The “virtually emission-free” claim in the advertisement is not buttressed by any explanatory language, thereby making it seem to reasonable consumers and the decision makers this ad was originally targeted toward (it ran in the National Journal’s Congress Daily in January) that virtually nothing is coming out of every new car and light truck the Alliance’s members made in 2005, from the Toyota Prius to GM’s Hummer. However, data from the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrates that the dirtiest autos made today actually emit 40 times more smog-forming pollution than a Ford Escape Hybrid.
Even if accurate, what does this mean in real-world terms? Take a look at a chronology of NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions. Notice the dramatic reduction even in the past few years with the Tier II requirements that just went into effect; this, even after maximum NOx emissions decreased by a factor of 10 between 1975 and 1999.
While certainly much has yet to be done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, let's allow the automakers to pat themselves on the back for all that's been done to reduce the other tailpipe emissions. Certainly we've got other, bigger, fish to fry when it comes to reducing our overall environmental impact, and vilifying cars does little to help move that process along.