Not all versions of the hybrid car deserve tax incentives

The Nov. 15 article, "Want to save $3,150 in taxes? Buy a hybrid car," struck me as being more divisive than informative. Those with hybrid envy or enmity did not learn even half of what they're missing. Some classes of hybrid are already obsolete. The electric motor of the GM Silverado, Saturn VUE, and even the initial models of Honda hybrids merely "assist" the internal combustion engine, and do not propel the car without the gasoline engine running. These quasi-hybrids do not deserve a tax break or perk of any kind.

Under certain driving conditions, the electric engines of the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrids have the capability to propel the car alone, without also using power from the gasoline engine. Unlike most of their counterparts, these hybrids can be modified to reach "next generation" status, which will enable them to run zero emissions on the electric motor alone at higher speeds and for longer distances, and to achieve even better mileage and overall emission reduction.

Why invest in a hybrid that cannot achieve the highest goal? Why inflame tempers with hybrid perks when the story of how this technology is sometimes being wrongfully promoted is left untold?
Art Lewellan
Portland, Ore.

Being ethical in business pays

Thank you for the Nov. 7 article, "Beyond compliance: Companies embrace ethical ways to work." It's really nice to see a positive story about business ethics.

There ought to be a whole lot more stories about the value of high ethical standards. In researching my book, "Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First," I was not surprised to find, over and over again, that the consistent high performers are also those companies where ethics is a core value. These businesses' executives are building strong companies based on strong relationships. And in a climate where anyone with a complaint can tell his or her 10,000 best friends on the Internet in moments, that requires exemplary behavior.
Shel Horowitz
Hadley, Mass.

The world should not rely on fossil fuel

Regarding the Nov. 9 article "How soon will world's oil supply peak?": Huge deposits of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, are locked in permafrost, which is beginning to melt quickly all over the world. Within the past five years the surface permafrost in an area in Siberia the size of France and Germany combined is melting for the first time since the last ice age, 11,000 years ago.

Methane released from melting permafrost could quickly eliminate most life in the Arctic. As the methane drifted south, it could threaten all life on earth.

Present efforts to slow global warming fall tragically short of what is needed. We may be facing a little-publicized planetary emergency.

The very hope for the survival of human life requires an extremely rapid end to dependence on oil, gas, and coal, whether or not we have reached peak extraction of these resources. Those with vested interests in the oil industry must recognize their most important interest is life itself.

During World War II, the US produced armaments in quantities that would have been unbelievable a short time earlier. To slow global warming, a similar effort to develop breakthrough systems to produce energy, as well as rapid expansion of all current carbon-free energy technologies, must become an urgent priority.
Mark Goldes
Chairman and CEO Magnetic Power Inc.
Sebastopol, Calif.

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