Sir: Aviation is the fastest-growing source of climate change emissions, both in the UK and worldwide. Yet the Government is planning to expand airports across the country to cater for the huge growth in passenger numbers that is being fuelled by artificially cheap air travel. Aviation expansion at the rate forecast by the Government will make it extremely difficult to meet our long-term climate change targets.
This outdated "predict and provide" approach has been criticised by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the Sustainable Development Commission, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, the Institute for Public Policy Research, the Tyndall Centre and numerous environmental organisations.
We believe that urgent action is needed to bring aviation policy into line with climate change targets. The Government has an opportunity to do this later this year. In its 2003 Aviation White Paper it said that it would publish a progress report in 2006. We believe that this is not enough, and that the Government must fundamentally rethink its aviation policy so that it plays a part in making the annual cuts in emissions that are needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Failure to do so will be another example of the Government's action on climate change not matching its rhetoric.
ALISTAIR CARMICHAEL MP, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY
SUE HOLDEN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE WOODLAND TRUST
TIM JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, AVIATION ENVIRONMENT FEDERATION
STEPHEN JOSEPH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, TRANSPORT 2000
TONY JUNIPER, DIRECTOR, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
SIR JOHN LAWTON, CHAIRMAN, ROYAL COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION
CAROLINE LUCAS MEP, GREEN PARTY PRINCIPAL SPEAKER AND EU RAPPORTEUR ON AVIATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
JOHN MCDONNELL MP, CHAIRMAN, CAMPAIGN GROUP OF LABOUR MPS
ROBERT NAPIER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE UK
FIONA REYNOLDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, NATIONAL TRUST
LOUISE RICHARDS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, WAR ON WANT
SHAUN SPIERS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT RURAL ENGLAND
STEPHEN TINDALE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE UK
LORD WHITTY, FORMERLY MINISTER OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS
GRAHAM WYNNE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF BIRDS
TIM YEO MP, CHAIRMAN,HOUSE OF COMMONS ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE
Protect children from sex offenders
Sir: I am writing to express my shock and disgust at the inaccurate article "Paedophiles need help not persecution" by Johann Hari (22 June). In the six years I have campaigned for Sarah's Law, I have grown used to the misleading and ignorant comments of certain commentators in the media. Your columnist's article is one of the most ill-informed and blatantly apologist pieces of writing I have ever read.
His claim that "far from protecting little girls ... Megan's Law actually increases the number of children raped and murdered" is factually incorrect. His comments are an insult to Megan and all the good work done by her parents in protecting children. Megan's killer was a thrice-convicted paedophile. He did not keep, rape and torture her for days as stated in Hari's column. The entire crime from kidnapping to recovery was concluded within 24 hours.
Hari claims that the News of the World's demand is "for the Government to publish the name and address of every paedophile in the country". Wrong. The core demand of Sarah's Law is controlled access to information. This is giving parents and carers the legal right to information about predatory sex offenders who pose a serious risk to children living in the area. Any record of prison, violence or public disorder would bar an applicant.
"Across the US, since it was introduced, there has been a Columbine-sized massacre of paedophiles." Wrong again. Twelve children and one schoolteacher were tragically shot dead at Columbine school. There have been two double murders since Megan's Law was implemented, out of over 550,000 sex offenders on the register. Both perpetrators had spent time in prison previously for violence, and did not live in the local area where the victims resided, so under the proposed Sarah's Law, neither would be entitled to information about registered sex offenders.
Hari's nauseating concern that "Megan's Law guarantees that released paedophiles will feel isolated and friendless" leaves me cold. His claim that "instead of [paedophiles] being able to build normal adult relationships, Megan's Law guarantees they are plunged into a scalding bath of hatred" is not true. Across America most paedophiles who live under Megan's Law are able to lead relatively normal lives following their release from prison.
Why 4x4s are no safer than big cars
Sir: I sympathise with your correspondent Chris Norris (24 June) whose parents were killed in a car that collided with an SUV, but I fear that he draws a mistaken general conclusion from this particular calamitous case.
According to the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org), it is the weight of vehicles that most influences drivers' and occupants' chances of surviving a multiple-vehicle collision. Although heavier SUVs may be safer in collisions than lighter small cars, they are, on average, no safer than medium-sized or large cars.
In single-vehicle crashes, SUVs are significantly more likely than cars to be involved in fatalities. In particular, drivers and occupants of SUVs are much more likely to die in rollover accidents than are those of cars.
Thus it appears that both SUV drivers and drivers of small cars suffer from the consequences of the illusion of invulnerability that the size and weight of SUVs imparts. It would surely be in the general public interest to restrict the weight of private passenger vehicles and to confine SUVs to the specialised uses for which they are best suited.
PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF KENT CANTERBURY
Sir: There were some interesting statistics in your article "Enemy of the People" (23 June). However, I must point out a clear error made by "The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s" when they state that "only 5 per cent of 4x4s are taken off-road". This is far too low a figure, as a walk past any local school at the start of the school day will prove. Most of the 4x4s are parked on the pavement.
While this makes the road clearer for the other 4x4 school-run mums it means pedestrians have to walk in the road or squeeze through narrow, wing-mirror-blocked gaps.
Sir I carefully and courteously drive a 26mpg diesel Discovery, using all seats in a lift-share rota. Starting and ending each journey on steep, high, rural roads, I end up in town. Were it not for me, two other cars would be on the road. Am I saving the planet?
Blair's supreme cause for shame
Sir: I read Adrian Hamilton's article about European foreign policy (22 June) with interest.
He writes: "It is to Tony Blair's eternal discredit, and that of his Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, that Britain made such half-hearted objections to Guantanamo, even when it concerned the incarceration of our own citizens and residents."
The 1945 Nuremberg charter states clearly:
"To initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."
I think the reason European foreign policy is in disarray is because its leaders know they are accommodating war criminals but nobody, not politicians nor media, is prepared to state this formally. In comparison with starting a war of aggression which has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians, not defending one's own citizens in an illegal camp is small cause for shame.
DR DAN MELLEY
Don't ignore the faith of millions
Sir: With hundreds of thousands worshipping each week in church, temple, mosque and synagogue and millions choosing faith-based schools; with pagans gathering to celebrate the solstice and 74 per cent professing some allegiance to the Christian faith; I struggle to see how Britain can be described as a "secular state" (leading article, 22 June).
We are pluralist, and proudly so. We have an amazing voluntary sector whose parts, including the faiths, work very well together. Judeo-Christian teachings are fundamental to our justice, education and medical systems; and our democracy. Week by week, there are fewer people in football grounds than in church.
To ignore the faith of millions is an act of denial and rejection.
THE REVD MIKE HASLAM
Let's have a real debate on Trident
Sir: If the Government is really committed to a proper debate on whether to replace the UK's aging nuclear weapon system, Trident, it should publish a consultative Green Paper setting out costs and opportunity costs for all the options, including the option of non-replacement.
A Green Paper is supported by MPs from both sides of the Commons, including those for and against nuclear weapons. The Government's proposed White Paper, setting out its decision, is likely to repeat the lack of transparency of past government decision-making on nuclear weapons and missile defence, and is more likely to be a fait accompli, providing too little information, too late, for any real debate.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, THE ACRONYM INSTITUTE FOR DISARMAMENT DIPLOMACY NEW BARNET, HERTFORDSHIRE
Fair trade works for everyone
Sir: Renee Elliott ("You're not eating that", 22 June) argues that Fairtrade shouldn't just be about a fair price, but also about protecting crops, land and homes, as well as ensuring quality produce. We absolutely agree.
I have just returned from visiting cotton farmers in Mali. They were in no doubt that their best customers, the Fairtrade buyers, deserve their very best quality.
While international Fairtrade standards de facto include reduction of chemicals and practice of integrated crop management, with the stable income and additional premiums from Fairtrade, farmers can focus on improving quality control, crop diversification and organic certification as well as improving schools, health and water supplies for the whole community.
HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS THE FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION LONDON EC1
Healthy cyclists cost the NHS dear
Sir: A number of your cyclist correspondents have mentioned the health-enhancing properties of our hobby, which I fully endorse. But can we move away from statements such as "we cyclists save the NHS money by being healthier", which many seem to claim?
If my body, as a cyclist, holds out longer than it otherwise would as a result of the exercise I've given it, the likelihood is that I will be treated for many expensive age-related ailments of mind and body as I move into my eighties and nineties. The cost to the NHS will be far greater than if I keeled over, unfit and overweight, at the age of 60.
Nation carries on
Sir: Your headline about Kidman's wedding stopping a nation (26 June) stopped me in my tracks. Which nation was it, as it certainly was not the one that I live in? I was also amused to see Mr Urban's home town of Maroochydore described as "outback". Maroochydore is about as outback as Clacton.
Schools for prejudice
Sir: If I said that I didn't want to send my child to the local comprehensive because I don't want him turned into a criminal, brain-dead chav, Susan Taylor would be, rightly, outraged. Why then does she think it's reasonable to say that sending her children to an independent school would turn them into "stuck-up", "arrogant" adults (letter, 21 June)? I can't help feeling that her children are probably already rude, and prejudiced against at least one group of people, as is their mother.
Skinning a hare
Sir: The word "cas'd" is short for "cased" which means "skinned", in use in 1803 according to the OED ("The forgotten foodies", 24 June). It might also, but I'd hate to be accused of the crime of guessing like your correspondent Rose Prince, mean "gutted". This must have occurred before the pudding was sewn into the hare carcass.
Mental health cuts
Sir: More than one million children in this country suffer from mental disorders (21 June); who cares? Primary care trusts nationally have now published their "recovery plans"; most of them are clawing money out of functioning mental health services to pay off their debts to acute trusts. Our child psychotherapy service has been cut by 55 per cent overnight, with more cuts on the way if local authorities agree. Does our government really care about our children?
CONSULTANT PSYCHIATRIST IN PSYCHOTHERAPY, LONDON W2
Sir: My pleasure at England's progress to the World Cup quarter-finals has been enhanced by the wit and imagination shown by James Lawton' critique on every game: Sven is clueless and Beckham doesn't deserve his place. I am looking forward to his article should England win the competition, which should begin with the reflection that "OK, they've won this match but they will be in trouble when they face a decent team."