Letter to the Editor: Some answers to questions about electric vehicles


In response to a recent letter (“Reader has questions about electric vehicles and the mandate,” June 6), I present the following answers. My background includes a career in science, a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, a Ph.D. degree in biology, peer-reviewed journal articles, books, research grants and relevant jobs in my lifetime, including involvement with atomic radiation while in the military. My hobbies are electronics, ham radio, shortwave radio and astronomy. I built much of my own electronics from scratch and even hand-wound a few transformers.

How car company CEOs make decisions on AM radios in cars will be confidential, but here are: 1.) the physical facts of radio electronics, and 2.) my speculations.

The future of AM radio is in doubt for many reasons, including that it is now easier to get instant streaming audio on the internet. Much other listening is by MP3 files on personal digital devices. The technical fact is that AM cannot carry the audio high fidelity like FM can. Weak-signal AM is poor. FM audio is always there and always high in quality, or you don’t pick up the station at all. Car executives would not want radio performance to ever be poor, but on a long trip, AM reception will fade into noise when you get far from transmitters. You will easily hear static crashes from lightning strikes on an AM radio but rarely on an FM radio. And I have heard AM radio interference from other ordinary appliances, such as fluorescent lights, cellphone chargers and other radio services, etc.

Electric vehicles should produce large magnetic fields, but these will be on the scale of MRI imaging machines that have been in hospitals and clinics for decades. The last time I checked, nobody — even with titanium or stainless-steel implants — was ever hurt directly by magnetic fields from an MRI scan. However, there were reports of people being hurt or killed by magnetizable wrenches or tools left accidentally in the scanner room and accelerated to high speed when the magnetic field was turned on. I do not recall reading of harm to drivers of electric vehicles from magnetic fields. Furthermore, these fields should be highly confined by the design of the motors. Battery fires should be compared to fires from gasoline in gas tanks. Microwave oven fields really could burn you if the door interlock switch became broken or defeated, and the oven turned on with the door open. But people have had such ovens for decades. High-power home appliances, such as electric cooktops, clothes dryers, toasters, etc., produce magnetic fields, too. Decades ago, there were fears of cellphone fields, but I can give many other examples suggesting “not to worry.” Electromagnetic field bioeffects are traceable to heating effects, and there are standards that regulate exposure. As a ham radio operator, the Federal Communications Commission requires me to certify that I have compared my transmitting power and antennas to the regulatory guidelines.

The climate crisis, however, is real. You have to read the science. You can sign up for a relevant, useful and free email newsletter at the insideclimatenews.org website.

Damage from record wildfires, droughts, temperatures and storms is now starting to roll into very big bucks. Two big insurance companies are no longer doing home insurance in California. Florida home insurance is unstable. We can argue about mandates but — for example — statistics favor having car seat belts and car insurance, which became mandatory when I was young.

Arthur E. Sowers


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