IoS letters, emails & online postings (20 January 2013)

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The Independent Online

The Met Office did not state, in its December revision of its short-term global temperature forecasts, as David Bellamy claims, that "by 2017 average temperatures will have remained about the same for two decades" (David Bellamy interview, 13 January). Global temperature records clearly show each decade since the 1970s, including 2000-2010, has been successively warmer than the last. Unfortunately, many reports have repeated inaccurate and misleading claims by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a "climate sceptic" body launched by Lord Lawson.

The essence of the latest Met Office view is that warming is continuing, though at a variable and currently reduced pace. Such variation is to be expected given the interactions between the underlying trend and the natural fluctuations in weather and climate.

Mr Bellamy is entitled to repeat his oddball views, but it's a pity that he cannot bring himself to properly evaluate the evidence. We must be careful about believing the assertions of any scientist commenting on matters outside their expertise.

Nigel Watson

East Horsley, Cambridge

I sleep very soundly at the top of a 20-storey tower block, 30 yards and four doors from the only staircase ("The menace of UK's firetrap tower blocks", 13 January). But when I came here in 2007, I found nine of the staircase fire doors jammed wide open. I fixed them with cardboard under the hinges. Thousands of tower blocks in the UK have safely housed many thousands of residents for more than 40 years. Compare this with the real catastrophe of thousands killed or injured every year by cars.

Robin Clarke


David Willetts highlights our US summer schools, which have led to substantial scholarships for bright British students from low- and middle-income families ("Overseas study is good for business", 13 January 2013). He suggests that such scholarships are rare. In fact, 240 US universities offer substantial scholarships. The majority pay most or all of the cost of fees and living expenses. Total scholarships for overseas students at these universities are worth nearly £400m a year. With US universities offering four-year courses combining breadth with depth, and the chance to graduate with little or no debt, British young people should consider studying in the US a serious option.

Sir Peter Lampl

Chairman, Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation

London SW1

The Duke of Westminster's plan to create a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Stanford Hall is about serious medicine, caring for those who have been injured in the Armed Forces or in civilian life ("Duke's scheme rings down the curtain", 13 January). Across the estate, we intend to fulfil our heritage responsibilities and that includes the private theatre built by Sir Julien Cahn.

Contrary to the impression given in your article, our proposal is to restore and preserve the theatre and make it fit for use. After consulting interested parties, we propose to investigate the potential for amateur dramatic use. There is no question of the theatre being "closed for good". Indeed, our proposals will safeguard that remarkable Art Deco building, now in a very poor state of repair, which, were it not for the duke's initiative, could be lost for ever.

James Lough


London W1

Janet Street-Porter thinks she looks better than Bowie ("Leave me out of this Bowiemania", 13 January). Sorry Janet, but you look like yourself at 66, in your way, as I do in my way. No more, no less.

Emily Scattergood

Brixham, Devon

You say Pride and Prejudice is "the world's most influential novel ever" (13 January). But unlike the works of Dickens, it didn't draw attention to conditions endured by the poor, forcing society to take action. A century later, Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm had arguably more impact, warning us against the dangers of totalitarian society and how a radical revolution can end up with rulers as bad as those they replaced.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

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