Budget-conscious drivers in Germany seized the opportunity to invest in diesel-fueled vehicles. The promise of high gas mileage and environmentally friendly emission levels was too alluring to resist. Now, in the wake of stricter limitations on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, many of these consumers are stuck with cars they are forbidden to drive, and their vehicles are becoming less valuable and more obsolete by the day. The Diesel Disaster investigates the real hazards posed by these emissions, and what it means for the future of "green" automobiles.
The controversy represents a battle between environmental activists and the exceedingly lucrative auto makers in Germany. The consumers are caught in the middle.
Bolstered by World Health Organization recommendations, German environmental agencies contend that intensified NO2 levels (such as those produced by diesel automobiles) can lead to widespread pollution, increased health concerns and premature deaths. Not so, say some members of the medical and research communities dismissing these critiques as empty analytical evaluations which lack the support of real world evidence. On the other hand, it is often impossible to isolate and measure the precise impact of NO2 in the formation of pulmonary disease and other disorders.
The filmmakers rely on the expertise of environmental scientists and medical professionals in their quest to find consensus in this debate. They question the accuracy of emission readings, its ultimate impact on the health of city dwellers, and the effectiveness of an overall diesel ban. Can German citizens trust the allegations being lobbed from either side of the issue? Are these environmental restrictions too strict or too lax, and how do they measure up to those that regulate other major cities across the globe?
While the debate continues to mount, the courts have banned diesel driving in several German cities, and many others are in line for similar restrictions. This could potentially take hundreds of thousands of drivers off the road, impacting their employment security and property values.
The Diesel Disaster reaches no definitive answers in this ongoing debate, but offers a wealth of well-reasoned arguments that viewers can use to form their own conclusions.