Hamish McRae discusses developments in world energy markets (Voices, 18 June). He notes that fossil fuels continue to dominate; indeed coal consumption is on the rise. Renewables only account for 5.3 per cent of world generation.
Bizarrely, he concludes that we should be relieved that more fossil fuels are being found, and he welcomes “fracking”. Staggeringly, he makes no mention of issues such as carbon outputs, greenhouse gases or climate change.
This is the sort of blinkered thinking that has got us into our environmental mess. If scientists are correct in their global temperature-rise projections, then the conclusion we can actually draw from McRae’s evidence is that future generations are likely to face massive, possibly insurmountable, problems.
I assume that the Nato chief who claims Russia has secretly infiltrated green groups fighting fracking got his information from undercover police officers within those groups. What with foreign agents and incognito coppers, it’s a wonder there’s room in there for any genuine protesters.
Money wasted on English football
At the risk of being lynched, may I point out that it is nearly 50 years since England won the World Cup and, in the interim, they have often put up some pretty mediocre performances against teams from quite small nations.
However, it is not for the want of money. Billions of pounds have been lavished on football both by those who attend the games and in TV broadcast rights.
Yet, many lesser-supported sports such as rowing, cycling and track events exist on a far lesser income and produce many international triumphs. In my opinion, therefore, football has become a waste of money.
Vernon J Yarker
If I were an England footballer taking home an average £44,000 a week after tax – in Wayne Rooney’s case £165,000 – I would find it well nigh impossible to motivate myself, however fond I was of the game. After the England team’s dismal performances in the World Cup, is it not now time to rethink the obscene levels of pay these often mediocre players receive?
Instead, I believe they should receive a relatively low basic wage, but be paid handsomely on performance. Players would then be motivated to train hard and play to the best of their abilities.
Go for a registered therapist
A form of regulation for the psychotherapy and counselling professions does exist (“Stopping therapy: We have ways of making you talk”, 17 June ). People looking for therapy now have the option of seeking practitioners on a register that has been vetted and approved by a government scheme operated by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
Organisations including the UK Council for Psychotherapy and BACP, which have PSA-approved registers, have demonstrated that they meet the authority’s standards in areas including education and training, managing their register, and complaints.
Anyone seeking psychotherapy should check that their therapist is on a PSA-accredited register. That way they can be sure that the therapist has committed to high professional standards, abides by a robust ethical code and is subject to a rigorous complaints system.
Anyone feeling that they are being pressurised into remaining in therapy should contact the therapist’s professional body.
Chief Executive, UK Council for Psychotherapy, London EC1
Market creates housing ‘shortage’
There is no shortage of housing but we have a dysfunctional housing market. Overcrowding and homelessness exist alongside under-occupied or even empty properties.
Twenty per cent of all households have a single occupant, but owners will never downsize while the house remains a privileged and profitable investment. This withholding of assets from the market causes a supply shortage, which in turn raises prices. Transaction costs are loaded by stamp duty.
Without policy change, building more houses cannot solve this problem of supply but will reduce average occupancy even further. Property taxes are easy to collect and would enforce more efficient utilisation, but are unpopular.
As homeowners are a majority of the electorate, a resolution is unlikely.
Magna Carta? Nothing to do with us
Is whoever persuaded David Cameron to emphasise the “Britishness” of Magna Carta (Michael Gove?) unwittingly part of a subtle plot by the “Yes” campaign to infuriate Scots, who after all have their Declaration of Arbroath as the epitome of their nationality?
Professor Colin Richards
Spark Bridge, Cumbria
How private schools damage the country
To Alan Bennett’s elegantly phrased critique of private schools (19 June) one might add that they are so inherently unpatriotic as to be detrimental to the country as a whole.
Separating the offspring of the wealthy from everyone else and according them often undeserved privilege means that positions of influence and power are often occupied by those unfit to hold them. A glance at the current Cabinet bears this out.
In the meantime there has to be a chance that the beleaguered state schools, under the cosh from government and Ofsted, might fail to identify and nurture those who might become distinguished scientists, diplomats, lawyers, creatives: the very people the nation needs if it is to flourish.
The private schools are central to maintaining the class system that for too long has crippled this country.
Professor Michael Rosenthal
As a public school boy living next door to your correspondent Lin Hawkins, formerly of a Cardiff council estate (letter, 20 June), I also read Alan Bennett’s comments. Mr Bennett was right that if we, who received private education, couldn’t realise it was wrong it wasn’t much of an education.
I enjoyed every minute of my schooling at Charterhouse in the early 1970s, and was blessed with many wonderful teachers who adored their subjects. However, it irks me that the school I went to continues to enjoy charitable status, as I cannot, for the life of me, see the common good (unless educating the sons and daughters of Chinese or Russian oligarchs counts).
I believe the standard that schools like Charterhouse need to meet in order to maintain charitable status is too low and that they should be required to demonstrate much more clearly in what way charitable status is justified. If we are talking about unfairness, charitable status enshrines it most wonderfully.
Your correspondent Lin Hawkins seems to share the strange solipsistic idea of another recent correspondent who didn’t mind paying tax spent on education even though he had no children of his own – as though he had never used, directly or indirectly, the services of a doctor, a teacher, a food scientist, a care worker, an electrician, a plumber, or any other valuable professional who needed to be educated.
Education isn’t primarily for the benefit of individual children, it’s for the benefit of all of us – society as a whole. This is both practically and in terms of simply making the country culturally a better place to live. That’s why it’s not just misguided to try to eliminate the best bits of our education system, because we all need and deserve the best; it’s positively wicked: level up, not down.
Dr S R Hills
Alan Bennett’s “sermon” expressed my own feelings, not just on private education but on the creeping privatisation of everything in public life.
While no one wants our public institutions to be inefficient and wasteful, their effectiveness should not only be measured in terms of profit and loss. This is to ignore their symbolic significance to the national psyche.
At a time when politicians are finding it difficult to articulate British values they should look no further than the NHS, which embodies the essence of our values.
Remember the swell of pride and recognition felt by most of the population when the NHS was represented in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the Olympic Games? Most of our government just didn’t get it, but the rest of us did.
So reform and refresh our public services, but reject the politicians’ drive to reduce us to consumers. Let us fight back and demand to be treated again as citizens and stakeholders.
Headley Down, Hampshire