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Volkswagen. Massive scandal broke out in September 2015 as reports flowed that Europe’s number one car manufacturer deliberately tricked pollution tests. Another world enveloping scandal as 11 million cars of various well-known and respected brands could be called in for revision.
Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in sales in China earlier this year … just to show you how world-spanning this issue is. Figures are so humongous they defy your and my mind’s imagination. Annual sales are $200 billion, the entire annual production of Liberia or San Marino, 600,000 employees worldwide, and stock losses amounted to $17 billion the day of the revelation of this latest massive scandal. Those are just the figures, damage to reputation, words like cheating, loss of respect, lack of responsibility are devastating and often long-lasting.
Without going into details, the technical and scientific know-how and manufacturing prowess to pull this off this scandal are amazing. It involves diesel fuel, which is great for gas mileage but terrible for pollution emissions. Scientists could not reduce the pollutants so they decided to invent a device that detects WHEN a car is having a pollution test run and cheat the test by changing the program to emit less pollution.
Don’t ask me the mechanism, I don’t have a clue. The Explanation isn’t interested in the mechanics; it goes beyond that to the type of mind that would think up such an incredibly devious system and deploy it on such a large scale. Maybe employees didn’t have a clue as to what this ‘device’ was for … but think and imagine how many people are involved in manufacturing cars and installing these diesel motors.
I’m in the process of completing the writing of Audit of the Universe, book 2 in The Explanation series. Audit is a survey of the Universe with a focus on Earth and Mankind. It asks a very simple question: Is the proverbial half-full, half-empty glass getting fuller or emptier? Are we creating or solving more of our worldwide problems?
This post deals with a small aspect of that question, well, maybe not so small after all. It asks: Are we even aware of all the muck and I should add, for balance, the positives that are going on behind the scenes? Yes, true, we hear more about scandals, dirt sells more newspapers than cleanliness.
Scandal in Environment and Business
Not many, including myself until a few weeks ago, are aware of the huge case against Chevron involving Ecuador, with the country of Peru also involved. These are nationwide massive scandals.
Here’s a very brief summary:
In 2003, a class action lawsuit was brought against Texaco (acquired by Chevron in 2001) in Ecuador alleging severe environmental contamination of the land where Texaco conducted its oil operation activities. The plaintiffs alleged that this contamination has led to increased rates of cancer as well as other serious health problems for the residents of the region.
Judicial inspections of the allegedly contaminated sites commenced in August 2004. In early 2008, an independent expert recommended to the court that Chevron should pay $7-16 billion in compensation for the pollution. This expert increased his estimate of damages to $27 billion in November 2008.
Despite continued efforts by Ecuadorian rainforest communities to obtain justice, as of this writing, the case drags on. Once again, the point here is not the lawsuit. It is the initial scandal and the added scandal of how the initial scandal is being handled by ‘business.’
We could talk about the Madoff scandal in which hundreds and thousands of people worldwide were caught up in a money game. We could talk about subprime mortgages. Just the definition of the latter should send shivers down your spine. Loaning huge sums of money to people with LOW credit ratings.
These are people who are ALREADY in financial difficulty so they get stuck with HIGHER mortgage rates, which can fluctuate even HIGHER! All of this to cover the loaner’s ‘risk’! The whole set-up is preying on the poor and weak. Talk about massive scandal.
Scandal in Agriculture
These are very touchy subjects that affect millions if not billions of people worldwide. Even if you’ve never come close to a farm, you eat their produce. And you bear the results of both fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizers that in the short run yield greater harvests but in the long run ruin the natural equilibrium of the soil which ends up producing less and less.
It ends up killing the microorganisms and the natural processes of living organisms beneficial to the soil and natural organic matter (leaves, green-cover, manure…) working their processes to regenerate the earth for the next crop.
We can talk about pesticides and selective pesticides all we want but just read what is written on the packaging itself … and think about where it all ends up when it rains.
Scandal in Health
A company in France, Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) manufactured 100,000 breast implants each year from 2001, providing about 400,000 women worldwide. In 2009, doctors began noticing large numbers of these implants that were breaking open.
It finally came out that PIP was using unauthorized industrial quality silicone for the majority of their implants, rather than the proper medical grade silicone. Their goal was to lower costs of production. They couldn’t care less about risk of rupture, inflammation, irritation or toxic substances released into the body. Imagine yourself with some ruptured ‘foreign body’ inside of you.
The company went bankrupt and disappeared, but the scandal and ongoing damage was done.
Scandal in Sports
I went to see the film ‘The Project’ about Lance Armstrong and his 7 years of winning the Tour de France. Quite a saga since I live in France. The follow-up is a sad reminder that scandals are unfortunately everywhere. Now we’re battling with the FIFA and the Qatar 2022 world-cup and how workers are being treated, or rather mis-treated on the various work sites with low-pay, squalid living quarters and low-level security.
The goal is not to pinpoint people, countries or governing bodies, that’s up to the justice courts. The Explanation touches on this because tomorrow, or the day after, you’ll wake up, turn on the radio or TV or look at the news via your smartphone and a new worldwide massive scandal will be thrust before your eyes.
A scandal that has taken a lot of concerted effort to think up and execute, that involves countless individuals in the know and that involves countless others as innocent victims, oftentimes at heavy expense.
Man certainly has the propensity for doing good, taking care of his brother and sister. But he clearly also has the ability to do immense damage to his neighbor, to harm himself and his fellow-man and put life itself in danger. Man is an ambivalent creature. Why is Man this way? What is innate to Man that causes this unhealthy nature to come to the surface and even take over his way of thinking and acting … with disastrous results?
These questions and the forthcoming answers are the quest of The Explanation. In the meantime, you can subscribe to this blog and receive ‘Answers to the Big Questions in Life.’
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