TO THE EDITOR:
I am concerned about efforts, particularly in California, to ban the internal combustion engine and demands that all electricity be produced by windmills or solar power.
It is high time to ask: Are these mandates in the best interest of society or the environment? If we look to electricity to meet 100 percent of our transportation energy needs in addition to everything else we use it for, is it not possible for unforeseen consequences to arise?
Demands that the internal combustion engine be phased out are frustrating amid developments in engine technology. Cylinder deactivation reduces wasteful intake air throttling when full power isn't needed. Dynamic skipfire allows the cylinders to skip their turn to fire, so as to come closer to the diesel engine's advantage of not having to throttle intake air to control power output. Cam phasers partially free us from fixed intake and exhaust valve timing. And then there is hybrid-electric technology.
Furthermore, automotive engines can run on alternative fuels such as natural gas or ethanol. Biomass can be burned in specially constructed boilers to generate electricity. Or we can process it to produce fuels and chemicals, including alternative automotive fuels.
I would prefer more flexible approaches to addressing carbon dioxide buildup, such as a carbon tax on fossil fuels. That would incentivize people and industry to reduce our carbon footprint, in whatever way we find most convenient.
If electric cars totally replace those powered by engines, let it be because of market forces — not rigid government diktats.
ALEX KOVNAT, West Bloomfield Township, Mich., The writer is a retired mechanical engineer who worked at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command.