Israel, Global warming and others


World must save Israelis and Arabs from curse of violence

World must save Israelis and Arabs from curse of violence

Sir: As one who has lived, worked and taught in both Israel and the Occupied Territories I share the increasing despair about the deterioration in Gaza. I wholeheartedly endorse the letter from development and human rights NGOs (22 May).

What we are facing is a new level of collective punishment against the Palestinians. This Israeli government can no longer claim any moral high ground in distinguishing itself from the activities of suicide bombers. I have lived amongst Jews, Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians. What curses them all is the collision between the Israeli state's military-industrial complex and the Palestinian cult of martyrdom and violent resistance. This bloody business-as-usual has now escalated to the extent that the rage on both sides is endemic and the threat to innocent civilians on both sides unconscionable. International pressure and intervention is the only possible palliative. What is required is a programme of sanctions and boycotts against Israel as well as the withholding of funds and aid to the Palestinian Authority. Yassir Arafat is as discredited as Sharon and both should bear the pressure of international disapproval for their retrograde policies.

If we care about the Palestinians then we should encourage them to desist from suicide bombings by liberating them from the repressions not only of Israel but also of unreconstructed Islam and rampant political corruption in the territories. If we care about the survival of a viable Jewish State then we should encourage it to withdraw to strongly-defended but realistic, internationally-recognised borders. It does no credit to so-called "world leaders" that they take a Pilate-like stance of non-involvement. There is now too much blood flowing for the West, Israel's economic and military backers, to wash away their stain of guilt. Likewise the Arab World, Russia and China should be exerting pressure. Remember what Sadat and Rabin died for and honour it.

Solihull, West Midlands

New weapon against global warming

Sir: After reading James Lovelock's article on 24 May, readers may be interested to know that nuclear power is not "the one safe, available, energy source". We believe that carbon capture and storage is another option. The carbon dioxide formed when fossil fuels are used to produce electricity, or in the future to produce hydrogen, can be captured and stored deep underground. A range of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies could be built in a much shorter time than new nuclear plants, and could be rapidly closed down when better options emerge.

Potential CO 2 emissions from the world's fossil fuel reserves are huge, but so is the geological storage capacity in old oil and gas reservoirs and deep saline aquifers. Suitable storage sites are widely available throughout the world. Placing carbon dioxide in the deep oceans is not necessary and is not favoured by most people who work in the field.

Carbon storage has positive implications for the UK economy, initially through the possibility of using CO 2 to improve oil recovery and extend the productive life of mature oilfields, and in the longer term through a new offshore carbon storage industry.

Keeping the CO 2 underground is obviously a major concern, but oil and natural gas reservoirs show that gases can be held underground for many millions of years. Methods to investigate and monitor storage sites are a major focus of scientific activity. Remedial measures for leaking storage sites are also being developed.

Ideas about carbon capture and storage have been developing very quickly, so many people concerned with our energy future will not be aware of the latest progress, much of it UK-led. Carbon storage has also lacked the well-organised industrial and establishment backing that nuclear power has enjoyed. Fortunately the Energy White Paper recognises the potential for carbon storage and the UK Research Councils, through the newly-established UK Energy Research Centre, will shortly be setting up a wide-reaching stakeholder network. This will help raise the profile of carbon capture and storage as an element in future energy debates.

Director, Imperial College Energy and Environment Office

Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Imperial College

Energy Technology for Sustainable Development Group, Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College

Professor of Sedimentary Geology, University of Edinburgh

Professor of Petroleum Economics, University of Aberdeen

Professor of Oilfield Process Engineering, Imperial College

Co-Manager of Tyndall Centre Research Theme "Decarbonising Modern Societies", UMIST

Candid friends of US

Sir: Your editorial (24 May) was quite right to speak out in support of Michael Howard's position on the Iraq war. The job of a true friend is to warn, to advise, and to stand by their allies when it is right to do so.

Those of us in the Conservative Party who are true friends of the Americans believe that we at least owe to the USA honesty and frankness. We do not feel any need to confuse friendship with sycophancy and unrequited support for every policy that emanates from Washington. Some sadly in the previous leadership did. It was neither intellectually robust, nor wise.

Many Conservatives believed the war in Iraq was wrong - a war pursued against the wrong enemy, against the wrong target at the wrong time. True friends tell their allies when they are making a grave mistake. Many more Conservatives believed the war to be ill-advised, both in operational, legal and moral terms. These so-called pro-Americans did not want to be seen to break ranks with our rightly cherished ally. This was weakness, it was not strength, and belatedly many now realise this.

The same critics of Mr Howard are often those most silent on other "big" international issues, such as Zimbabwe, where our lack of action as a nation is surely disgraceful. These critics confuse friendship with cheerleading, the former is the role we owe to our greatest friend, whilst the latter is reserved for the mesmerised. I am glad that Mr Howard has chosen true friendship.

London SW2

Sir: How right Adrian Hamilton is when he writes that Mr Blair is a leader who has made his nation feel bad about itself (Opinion, 22 May). Being British has become a liability for many of us living abroad and I for one would like to walk proudly once more knowing that I belong to a nation respected for its decency and fair play, not reviled for its injustice and abuse.

If Mr Blair dares to lead his party into the general elections, I call on all expats to exercise their right to vote, however rusty it might be. Our leader has blood on his hands, as does every Briton by association. We must stop him before the stain can no longer be washed off.

Sitia, Greece

High anxiety

Sir: Stephen Bayley's article on vertigo (26 May) struck a chord. I recently had the misfortune to visit a municipality in the Netherlands which, by dint of EU money, had built itself a dazzling wonderful new steel and glass civic centre in the shape of a hollow cylinder five stories high.

In order to get from one side to the other, you could walk round the building, or you could use the steel mesh catwalks that bisected the hollow centre of the building at various heights. I had to turn down the mayor's invitation to a tour of the building, much to my embarrassment and that of my boss. Just looking at the catwalks made me feel sick.

Why do architects do this? I am all for space and light but surely there is a more important safety issue here?


Safety at work

Sir: Johann Hari's article "We care more for animals than for workers" (14 May), arguing for suitable punishment for company directors who have exposed their staff to risks resulting in fatal or serious injuries, echoes the case that we (and others) made to government for improvement in this area, following the Law Society report several years ago.

I feel, however, I should correct the impression made when he says "the number of health and safety inspectors has fallen by 41 per cent since 1999". The number of HSE front-line field inspectors, with whom industry is most likely to come into contact, has increased by 5.7 per cent over that period.

I was puzzled also by the assertion that "workplace deaths have risen by 23 per cent" since 1999. Certainly that year saw a record low number of deaths, but there is no rising trend apparent, and the fatal accident rate last year was about the same as in 1999.

Director General
Health and Safety Executive
London SE1

Vote for Europe

Sir: The biggest Euro-lie of all is the UK Independence Party claim that the European Union is undemocratic.

We, the people, will shortly be able to vote for Members of the European Parliament. MEPs have the power to hold the European Commission to account and an equal right with national government ministers to shape the European laws that affect us.

No Briton can seek election to the World Trade Organisation or the United Nations. No Briton can vote for their representative in Nato or who occupies the White House. Far from being undemocratic, the EU is the only international organisation affecting our lives that we can influence directly through democratic elections. But only if we use that power by voting on 10 June.

We should select our MEPs with as much care as our MPs. Voters who trust us on national issues such as scrapping the unfair Council Tax and international issues such as opposition to Blair's war in Iraq can trust the Liberal Democrats to promote British interests and those of Europe in the many areas where they are one and the same.


Sir: I am appalled by Johann Hari's column (Opinion, 26 May). Having been a member of the UK Independence Party for many years I have the experience to identify the bogusness of trying to identify the UKIP as just another bunch of right-wing fascists. Like many, many members of the UKIP I am not right-wing and object to the idea.

There is an important debate to be had here on Europe. So let's have it and let's not trade in the politics of misleading mischief.

Appledore, Kent

Sir: What exactly have UKIP's three Members of the European Parliament been doing in the European Parliament to persuade the United Kingdom to withdraw from the organisation that pays their salaries?


Memory of Hart-Davis

Sir: As one who benefited hugely from the friendship and advice of Sir Rupert Hart-Davis, I was appalled by Jeremy Lewis's description of him as "a pompous curmudgeon" (Tuesday Book, 25 May). No doubt this was the reviewer's sincere reaction to what he found in Philip Ziegler's biography, but he should have realised that it was too subjective to be fair.

Beneath a gruff, even occasionally alarming, exterior, Rupert was the kindest of men, keenly intelligent, and entirely unpompous. He had his prejudices where literature was concerned, but which of us does not? Is Mr Lewis quite sure that he is in a position to criticise a man who had such a wide and deep knowledge of 20th-century European literature?

As to whether it was worth writing his biography - well, that is another subjective question. I can only say that, out of love of Rupert and his memory, I look forward eagerly to reading it.

Wivenhoe, Essex

Mishap on Mars

Sir: Surely the Beagle failure was due to the fact that the boss-man was a scientist ("Beagle fell victim to Martian heatwave, says scientist", 25 May). The science is simple - fifth form Newton's Laws plus a bit of first-year thermodynamics and materials science. The devil is in the engineering.


Personal countries

Sir: Why does Thomas Sutcliffe (TV review, 25 May) imagine that only Saudi Arabia has a "name tag"? What about Bolivia, Colombia, the Philippines, Israel, America and, in the past, Rhodesia?

London W2

Saatchi fire

Sir: It is reported that Charles Saatchi is distraught at the loss of many pieces of contemporary art in a fire, including Tracey Emin's tent, entitled All the People I Ever Slept With. Let me reassure Mr Saatchi that I can knock up a replacement for Ms Emin's tent in short order, should he give me the go-ahead. As well as having the advantage of being far cheaper than the "original" it will also have just as much artistic merit.

Altrincham, Greater Manchester

Sir: I may not know much about art, but I know what I like. Yours etc, GOD

Coulsdon, Surrey

Take no notice

Sir: The campaign to abolish gratuities (letter, 17 May) seems to have started in Cumbria. Taxi drivers taking couples to Gretna are greeted south of the border by stern notices bearing the instruction "Refuse tip".


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