Global warming, A democracy grown too comfortable and others

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The Independent Online

Storage of CO2 would lessen the effects of global warming

Storage of CO2 would lessen the effects of global warming

Sir: We know there is appropriate infrastructure in the North Sea, purpose-built using stainless steel, that can process large quantities of CO2. We know there are fields at the end of their life that have potentially 5-10 per cent extra recovery with CO2 injection. The oil industry is preparing to decommission and recycle many of its offshore facilities. Surely the best way of recycling these installations is to use them as CO2 storage sites. CO2 capture and storage is seen as a "safe" transitional technology that will mitigate the effects of global warming while hydrogen and fusion technologies are developed.

The nuclear industry has no current acceptable solution to the long-term storage of its waste (report, 23 April). Whether it is sub-surface storage of nuclear waste or of CO2that we are tasked to research, I can assure the public that it is of the latter that my scientific colleagues are very much more confident of delivering safely. The UK could start large-scale CO2 storage today with appropriate public and government support.

I personally support like-minded individuals (Mr Claxton and Dr Lunn, Letters 23 April) who would happily see more wind turbines - even on the hills directly in view from my kitchen window - a view that is equal to any of those that I've seen published of Whinash. I want my descendants to be able to enjoy their countryside much as I do today.

PATRICK CORBETT

PROFESSOR OF PETROLEUM GEOENGINEERING HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY RICCARTON, EDINBURGH

A democracy grown too comfortable

Sir: Bruce Anderson's final sentence (Opinion, 2 May) should make every reader uneasy. He observes that, "A democracy which tolerates a lying leader is a sick democracy".

Every poll, and the analysis by Professor John Curtice in your newspaper, suggests that the electorate made up its mind about the Prime Minister and the Iraq war long before the election campaign. The subject has never rated highly in terms of elector priorities.

Why might this be? Helplessness is one factor. During the past five years certainly, there has grown a sense that we the people have less and less say. We may have marched proclaiming "Not in my name", but we knew instinctively that we'd be ignored. Yet there is a more disturbing factor which Mr Anderson should address.

The underclass of the United Kingdom is an important but relatively small percentage of our society and mostly does not vote. We are in the main, a rich electorate, and one remote from moral issues. (We can even donate to charity by giving our credit card number to a recording device.)

Therefore, as Archbishop Cranmer would have observed, those of us who are in love and charity with our neighbour need no longer draw near any issue which might disturb our comfort. There is every sign that this democracy will tolerate a lying leader because the people don't care enough.

And worse - because they can do something about it - Blair's own party tolerates a lying leader.

CHRISTOPHER LEE

SISSINGHURST, KENT

Sir: Opinion polls suggest that a majority of the public believe that Mr Blair tells lies. They also suggest that this has had little impact upon the possibility of his being re-elected. The debate on how seemly or otherwise it is to call the prime Minister a "liar" is a convenient side-show for New Labour. What is really depressing is that he leads a party which has institutionalised a culture of deception and untruth into the world, not only of politics but also of government, and that the electorate seem unconcerned.

IAN PARTRIDGE

BRADFORD, WEST YORKSHIRE

Sir: We now know that the way in which this country was taken into war was dubious to say the least, but I am saddened to read little criticism of the way in which the post-fighting situation has been managed. Anyone can press buttons to fire cruise missiles at what was virtually a defenceless country, and reduce its cities and infrastructure to ruins, but there seems to have been no coherent plan for what happened next. Here we are two years later and I read a report saying that after the new Government was formed last Thursday, 123 innocent Iraqis were killed in the space of three days.

The supporters now cheering on Mr Blair to another election win should think more about the casualties his actions have caused, and the misery for thousands of families. We had no idea in 2001 that Mr Blair could be going to take us to war in less than two years. And a war which we started, unlike WW1, WW2, and the Falklands, where we were responding after being attacked. How do we know now what he might do in 18 months' time?

JOHN ROBERTS

BLAKESLEY, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Sir: Amid the unremitting attacks on Tony Blair it is rarely mentioned that he may have taken the right decision on Iraq whatever the reasons he gave for doing so.

It is a matter of record that Blair considered that as Bush was going to invade anyway it would be better if the US were supported by as many other countries as possible. It is a great pity that Blair's efforts to get a second resolution and more support were thwarted by France and Russia but that doesn't mean he took the wrong decision in backing Bush. Do you think the position in Iraq would be better if UK troops were not there?

DENNIS TWIST

CLUN, SHROPSHIRE

Saddam was bad but not dangerous

Sir: The Prime Minister defends his actions in Iraq by asking if we would sooner have Saddam. The distinction which no one has yet made is between a bad man and a dangerous man. Saddam is and has long been bad, never more so than when the United States honoured him for a murderous war with Iran. But dangerous?

Since the Gulf War, Saddam's Iraq was steadily flown-over, embargoed in respect of trade, bombed as a warning and inspected - by Scott Ritter, who found in the early Nineties that the dangerous weapons had been destroyed. Most important, the Kurds, the most likely victims of Saddam's internal malice, were made safe, following John Major's suggestion, in their enclaves.

Heavily supervised, Saddam was a danger neither externally nor internally. There was no massacre inside Iraq after 1992 until the bombing of civilians by "Shock and Awe" followed by the al-Qa'ida and Sunni insurgents killing between five and 20 people each and every day for the two years since, something which the military invasion started and cannot stop.

EDWARD PEARCE

THORMANBY NORTH YORKSHIRE

Sir: Brian Aldridge, former defence attaché in Baghdad (letter, 29 April) cites the unreliability of the al-Hussein missiles. A consistent joke in Iraq was their desperate unreliability and tendency to drop back to earth, killing and maiming beleaguered Iraqis rather than an intended target.

However, at the time of invasion, did they even exist? When I was driving from Amman to Baghdad in November 2002, near Fallujah, the night sky lit up and explosion after explosion rocked the car. What was going on, I asked my long time driver and fount of knowledge. "They are destroying the last of the missiles," he said - in a desperate attempt to avoid another war. He had never put me wrong in 12 years and there was no reason to disbelieve him.

FELICITY ARBUTHNOT

LONDON E9

Nuclear upgrade cannot be right

Sir: It would be interesting to hear the Prime Minister try to justify the existence of the nuclear deterrent ("Revealed: Blair to upgrade Britain's nuclear weapons", 2 May).

Apart from it being a monumental waste of money, who is being deterred, exactly? Mr Blair should publish a list of hostile states who would attack this country were the independent deterrent to be scrapped.

What is equally deplorable is Blair's continuation of the policy first started by Clement Attlee: highly secretive decision-making based on the delusion that Britain, crippled by the costs of the Second World War, was still a world power. From then to the present day, unknown amounts of our taxes have been wasted on this absurd chimera.

TOM MACFARLANE

THORNTON CLEVELEYS LANCASHIRE

Voting for Lib Dems could let Tories in

Sir: I must disagree with the respected Professor John Curtice in your your front page story of 30 April ("Vote for Lib Dems will not let in Tories").

Even supposing the polls are an accurate science, they are at best a snap-shot of opinion on the day, hour, minute they are conducted. They are not a projection of what behaviour will be five days hence. Therefore any reader using your story as the basis of how they should vote will be acting on imperfect information. Not only this; your projections rely on the notion of a uniform national swing, while this election could well see unquantifiable variations across the country.

In addition, should any reader actually change their vote as a result of your story they will, themselves have undermined and invalidated the information on which that decision was made: the picture will have changed. As one voter said to me yesterday: "I'm voting Lib Dem. There are plenty of people voting Labour". I leave it to your readers to work out the logic of what would happen if we all thought that way.

MATTHEW BAILEY

HULL

Sir: People who consider social progress to be fanciful nonsense should vote Conservative or stay at home on Thursday. Those who realise that we urgently need a more interdependent, enabling world should vote against the Conservatives and help create it. An astute, tactical anti-Tory vote will help pave the way for a more enlightened age; apathy is equivalent to opposing your own social evolution! Get out and vote for the bigger picture and leave conservatism in the history book where it belongs. Then we can all move on!

TONY PRAILL

MAIDENHEAD, BERKSHIRE

Let us be fair to Pope Benedict  

Sir: With reference to your article of 22 April, about Pope Benedict's autobiography and the Nazi history of Traunstein, I would like to add a few things.

Is it really necessary to judge the Pope by what he has not written in his autobiography? Shouldn't he rather be judged by his future decisions as Pope?

I admit that it seems a bit odd that he didn't mention any of the cruel crimes and the concentration camp at all. But overall, one should not forget that his autobiography is about his own life and experiences and not a documentation of Traunstein's history during World War 2.

INES RECHENBERGER

LANDSBERG AM LECH, GERMANY

Unionist damaged car industry

Sir: Obituaries tend inevitably to focus on the subject's positive achievements. But Tam Dalyell (2 May) is too kind to Ron Todd in his tributes to a man who, along with Derek "Red Robbo" Robinson at British Leyland, contributed more to the demise of the UK motor industry than any other.

Outrageous pay claims in the 1970s and 80s from the TGWU at Ford, under Todd's leadership, and backed by the threat of, or actual, industrial action, led to inflated wage bills. One result was the starving of research and development and quality control budgets vital in keeping products competitive, and especially at the time against imports from Japan, Germany and France. Another result was that to fund those wage increases prices of British-made cars had to rise.

Unions representing car workers in Germany, France and elsewhere, for all their undoubted shortcomings, have at least over the years negotiated more far-sightedly, realising that inexorable wage increases pave the way to reduced product demand and the unavoidable consequence: job losses.

ALAN BUNTING

HARPENDEN, HERTFORDSHIRE

Pensioners' paltry tax allowances

Sir: Michael Anderson was right to point out (letter, 2 May) that for pensioners aged of 65-74 with an income more than £19,500, the £7,090 personal allowance is scaled back at the rate of £1 for every £2 in excess until it is reduced to £4,895. But it's worse than that, since the first thing the Inland Revenue does is to deduct the total of one's state retirement pension from one's personal allowance. As a widow of 70 my tax free allowance for 2005-6 is £294.

ANN M. SOUTTER

WALLINGFORD, OXFORDSHIRE

Life in the hothouse

Sir: Johann Hari understates the power of the greenhouse effect ("The shame of the climate-change deniers", 25 April). In fact the Earth is kept 30 degrees Celsius warmer than it would otherwise be by the natural greenhouse effect, not the 3 degrees he cites.

JOHN GRIBBIN

UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX BRIGHTON

Open the doors

Sir: A vote for Howard would let in racism by the front door; a vote for Blair would yet again let in Bush by the back door; a vote for Kennedy or the Greens will let in some much needed light by the side door, reducing Blair's majority and highlighting the democratic and ecological deficit.

JUSTIN KENRICK

EDINBURGH

They weren't lying

Sir: None of us likes to be called a liar. I suspect that it is especially hurtful to Tony Blair, as it was for his friend Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky case. As lawyers and politicians they are likely to take immense professional pride in their ability to mislead without actually lying. The accusation challenges something more fundamental to them than their integrity: it calls into question their expertise.

JOHN RISELEY

FARNBOROUGH, HAMPSHIRE

Colour codes mixed up

Sir: The tranquillity of blue, bank holiday skies in Mill Hill is disturbed by a red helicopter towing a large banner inviting us to vote Conservative. Is this what they call a flight of fancy?

JAMES T. FIELDS

LONDON NW7

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