Dhruv Behl: Are we right to slander the internal combustion engine?

Its invention, at the end of the 19th century, literally revolutionized the world in which we live. She gave people individual freedoms they could only dream of before. But, while it has catapulted development – societal and individual – it has of course contributed to the unprecedented increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

But why has he become everyone’s favorite whipped boy, and why do we turn a blind eye to thermal power generation and other forms of industrial pollution, not to mention shipping, aviation and all of that. who is as much, if not more, a contributing factor? Is it just because the auto industry is an easy target, or is it because, in the wake of Dieselgate (VW’s diesel emissions scandal), we are painting the whole industry with the same brush Thick “black”?

Volkswagen TDI engine view

Are we confusing corporate fraud with the larger problem of greenhouse gas emissions? What Volkswagen has done is cheat emissions tests to circumvent regulations for a particular generation of engines. The fact that they had the audacity, at the same time, to market them as “clean diesel” only made matters worse. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the internal combustion engine has never been as clean or as efficient as it is today. And that’s without saying how efficient the manufacturing process has become – as the production of an ICE motor vehicle can be almost half the pollutants of the production of an equivalent electric vehicle.

Make no mistake, I am not saying electric vehicles are not the future. I’m just saying don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We should discuss the availability of rare earth metals and lithium. We should assess the recyclability of batteries. We must take into account the geopolitical, strategic and environmental concerns related to the change of fuel source. We need to think about where our energy is coming from.

There is a desperate need to separate the hype and political hyperbole from the truth, and engage in a nuanced discussion on all of these issues. Have we become so polarized on this issue – like everything that plagues society – that we can’t even begin to have a rational discussion?

It’s not about technology, energy, or even emissions, it’s about rationality – that’s what seems to be missing from this conversation. Until we focus on honest rational debate, we risk jumping out of the frying pan …

AutoX magazine cover December 2021

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Kevin A. Perras