Electric cars will still pollute the airIn his Opinion...


November 05, 1996

Electric cars will still pollute the air

In his Opinion Commentary article Oct. 24 promoting electric vehicles (EVs), Michael Shnayerson seems to have avoided addressing a fundamental issue driving the perceived need: to reduce pollution.

If Mr. Shnayerson and other EV proponents could demonstrate that the miles per gallon for EVs would be at least equivalent to current automobiles, the technology would seem to be a practical alternative.

A simple comparison could be made by assuming that the electricity for the vehicles is produced by a gasoline-fueled power station. It seems to this reader that, considering the energy losses associated with generation and distribution of electricity, an electrically powered vehicle would represent a much less efficient use of gasoline.

The overall effect of switching to EVs would not be a reduction in pollution, but actually an increase and transference of that pollution from urban areas to the power plants and surrounding neighborhoods.

Efforts would be better directed toward reducing or eliminating the use of motor vehicles in cities.

Otherwise, if the use of EVs is pursued and enormous increase in electricity becomes necessary, a form of power generation less polluting than fossil fuel burning, such as nuclear, should be used.

Tom McComas


Diplomat's life could be limited

William Shepherd's Nov. 1 letter about Hungary was interesting in that he wrote from the perspective of an officer at the American Embassy in the 1970s.

I myself lived under the wonderful protection of this great country on foreign soil where for years I was wined and dined and entertained with the finest food, the newest movies shipped from the U.S., the gala parties and immunity -- no matter what was happening in the streets of the host country.

But in no way would I condemn, as Mr. Shepherd of Potomac, did, a previous letter writer from Pikesville, who may have been on the streets outside in the 1940s and written from his experience, possibly in the death camps where atrocities of guards from Hungary and other countries have been documented. Mr. Shepherd's education may not be thorough enough. I wonder if he has spoken with any survivors of the concentration camps or with Russian civilians who saw the Hungarian units in action against them.

Frania Block


Child prostitution an international crime

A word of thanks for your Oct. 23 editorial regarding child prostitution ("Sexual exploitation of children."). You are quite right to call for an international response to this $5 billion-a-year industry.

Ironically, at the same time that the Marc Dutroux case was unfolding in Belgium more than 130 nations gathered in Stockholm for the first global gathering to address the issue of child-sex tourism. Non-governmental organizations such as Church World Service confront the abuse of children through coalitions like End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, which served as a co-host of the Stockholm meeting.

Your call for international enforcement against sexual exploitation is only part of the answer, however. Most child prostitutes are driven into the sex industry by poverty. Girls and boys sell their bodies to help their families and to stay alive. We must address the economic roots of this disease if we are to protect the world's most vulnerable citizens.

Tom Hampson


Fatalities rise as guns spread

An Oct. 19 front-page article in The Sun carried the dramatic headline: "Fewer are shot, more are dying." The thrust of the article was that gun-related fatalities were on the rise in Baltimore.

We were disturbed by the alarming headline and overall tone which suggested that deficiencies in hospital and prehospital emergency medical care may be contributing factors.

No instances which point to medical deficiencies were cited. Since writers failed to adequately compare this situation with the experiences of other major U.S. cities, this article was not an example of the comprehensive reporting of which The Sun is capable.

A brief literature search would have revealed that the trend reported in The Sun's article is similar to those in other major U.S. cities. Physicians, health services researchers and journalists alike in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Washington have all reported that shootings characterized by two or more bullet wounds are on the rise.

With the prevalence of semi-automatic weapons, assailants are firing more bullets at their victims. Respondents have reported, as did the expert interviewed by The Sun, that the likelihood of fatality obviously increases with each successive bullet strike.

That researchers need to ascertain the cause or causes of the increase in fatalities is evident. We applaud the multidisciplinary approach which involves experts from government and academic circles.

There may be additional public health and public safety steps that can be taken to reduce gun-related mortality and morbidity further.

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