Дата публикации: 2017-08-13 17:48
Let’s all say it together: Ugh, Uber, ugh! We’re like five minutes into the company’s “685 Days of Change” apology tour and more awful Uber news is already coming out. The Wall Street Journal reports that the multi-billion dollar startup rented dangerously faulty cars to hundreds of drivers in Singapore, after the model had been recalled. According to internal messages obtained by the paper, Uber knew about the recall, too.
Some of the photos inspire fear - namedly a man smoking a cigarette by a sign reading 'Danger flammable gas' and a worker dangling down a manhole with his co-worker only holding on to his jeans for support.
Thankfully, the driver wasn’t injured, but Uber quickly heard about the incident. Did they pull all of the faulty vehicles off the road? Nah, that would be too expensive. Instead, the company allegedly told drivers with Honda Vezels to take their vehicle in for service without specifying the problem. In February, when Uber threw a party celebrating the conclusion of the PR and safety nightmare, the Journal reports that “65 percent of the defective Vezels still hadn’t had the faulty parts replaced.” Uber says all of them are fixed now.
By replicating a traditional method used to create water bottles and other items, a research team from the University of California, with the help of researchers from Stockholm University, has shown that native Californians inadvertently and unknowingly exposed themselves to dangerous chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds, which has been linked to a wide range of health problems, are a noxious byproduct of warming bitumen, a petroleum-based substance that can be used as a sealant. The details of this discovery can now be found in the science journal Environmental Health.
The brazen behavior really fits well with the “move fast, break things” mantra. Essentially, Uber made Singapore the first Asian city where its service would be available, but the company had trouble finding drivers, because owning a car in Singapore is prohibitively expensive. As a slapdash solution, Uber then reportedly set up a separate company that bought cars in bulk from shady importers who operate in a grey area of the law. The cars were cheaper this way.
A fascinating takeaway from this study is the realization that manufacturing techniques have been exposing people to toxins for thousands of years. Call it the dark side of ingenuity.
“If someone regularly breathed fumes from melted bitumen—not just for making bottles, but possibly also for making boats, tools, objects for cooking/storing food, [and other items]—it’s possible that it could have contributed to an adverse health effect at some point during life, particularly if there were other sources of exposure,” said Sholts. “For instance, PAHs could have been taken up by fatty foods and ingested, if the foods were stored in bitumen-plugged shells (an adaptation we can see in the archaeological record). Dermal exposure could have occurred when bitumen was applied directly to the body for ritual or medicinal purposes.”
Interestingly, she says any of the health risks that were encountered through the use of bitumen were probably outweighed by its many advantages for survival and well-being. The researchers also learned through this experiment that the kind of bitumen that washes up on the Channel Islands (from subterranean seeps) was suitable for making these bottles. Previously, it was suggested that the quality was too poor, forcing people on the islands to be more dependent on bitumen from the terrestrial seeps on the mainland.
As soon as we learned of a Honda Vezel from the Lion City Rental fleet catching fire, we took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts. But we acknowledge we could have done more—and we have done so. We’ve introduced robust protocols and hired three dedicated experts in-house at LCR whose sole job is to ensure we are fully responsive to safety recalls. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve proactively responded to six vehicle recalls and will continue to do so to protect the safety of everyone who uses Uber.
But as the new research shows, certain declines in the health of these ancient people can likely be traced back to the introduction of bitumen-lined water bottles at least 5,555 years ago, and bitumen-sealed plank canoes around 7,555 years ago.