Letters: Climate change is hitting lives already

These letters appear in the Wednesday 2nd October edition of the Independent

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Has the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, read a different report to the rest of us? (“Climate change? People get very emotional about the subject. It’s not all bad”, 1 October). The latest report by IPCC scientists proves beyond doubt that climate change is a huge threat to the world and that urgent action is needed to slash global emissions.

Oxfam knows from its work with poor farmers around the world that climate change is hitting people’s lives right now. The IPCC makes it crystal clear that it will become even harder in the future for millions of families to earn a living and feed themselves unless global emissions are urgently cut to keep the planet on a path of 2 degrees warming or less, to limit the damage.  

Worryingly, Mr Paterson – who is in charge of ensuring Britain is able to adapt to the impacts of climate change – does not seem to have read the verdict of his own department. Defra’s own Climate Change Risk Assessment from 2012 warns of the risks of flooding, water stress and biodiversity loss at home and also repercussions from climate change abroad. In the light of this and the latest evidence provided by the IPCC, Mr Paterson needs to take seriously his responsibility to protect Britain’s future generations from the worst impacts of climate change.

Hannah Stoddart

Head of Economic Justice Policy, Oxfam, Oxford

It is very worrying that Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, is so complacent about the risks created by rising greenhouse gas levels.

Climate change is already affecting the UK. The average annual temperature has increased by about 1C since 1970, and the seven warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000.

There is strong evidence that the UK is experiencing mounting risks of coastal and inland flooding due to climate change. Global sea level has already risen by 39 centimetres since 1901 and is now increasing at a rate of more than 3 centimetres every decade. The Met Office has pointed out that annual rainfall is increasing, that heavy downpours are becoming more frequent, and that four of the five wettest years on record have all occurred since 2000.

Last year, the second wettest on record, the insurance industry paid out more than £1bn in claims for flood damage. Our flood insurance system is at breaking point because of the rising number of homes and businesses that are at significant risk. But Mr Paterson’s department has now proposed a new insurance scheme based on faulty analysis that ignores the findings of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, which was published last year, and assumes that climate change will not increase the risk from flooding.

Mr Paterson needs to understand that his views on climate change are not only eccentric and unscientific, but they are also potentially dangerous because they could expose millions of lives and livelihoods across the UK to serious risks.

Bob Ward

Policy and Communications Director,

Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science

Thank you for printing such a splendid endorsement of Owen Paterson , the Environment Secretary.

It is rare for a left-leaning newspaper to sum up so concisely the finer points of this man of the people. Printing in comparison the incoherent ravings of the climate change fanatics, who fly off the handle every time anyone dares to oppose the views that keep them in their various well-paid public offices, was inspired.

Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

Cllr Chris Middleton



P S: I don’t suppose you’ll publish this, but thank you for giving me such pleasure this morning, reading your excellent, if eccentric, newspaper.

Unemployed are not being immoral

“Ought” implies “can”: that’s a principle of moral philosophy. You ought to save the children from drowning, only if you can. If you cannot swim, you do not merit blame for not saving them.

Transpose the principle to the arena of the unemployed. Only if the unemployed can find jobs do they merit blame for not doing so. With at least 2.5 million unemployed and half a million vacancies, manifestly there are not the jobs for at least 2 million – so obviously they cannot find them.

Hence, contrary to the Government’s current stance, the vast majority of the unemployed deserve neither blame nor penalties – and being compelled to sit every day in a Jobcentre is hardly likely to create the required jobs.

Peter Cave

London W1

What I have always found strange about those on the right is their view that the state of the economy is determined by the attitude of the unemployed.

Since the unemployed are unemployed by choice, booms and busts are caused by their behaviour. Recessions result from laziness, as more people choose to be unemployed; recovery starts when people go out and look for work. All so simple. Throw away the macroeconomics textbook.

Nigel Wilkins

London SW7

Why the military prescribes Lariam

In reference to your article entitled ‘The Lariam scandal’ (27 September) I want to emphasise that mefloquine is a drug that is licensed in the UK by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency.

This is based on the expert guidance of the advisory committee for malaria prevention of Public Health England, which advises on malaria prevention for all travellers from the UK, and mefloquine remains one of the drugs that they advise may be used. Mefloquine is used across the UK, not just by the military, and is only ever prescribed after an individual risk assessment. It is also used by other countries around the world including the wider EU.

The life-threatening risks of malaria are extremely serious, and mefloquine is one of a number of effective antimalarials that we use. We need to be able to use the most appropriate drug for the areas to where our people deploy, to help ensure their resistance to this disease.

The MOD will continue to follow the best advice as provided by Public Health England.

Air Marshal Paul Evans

Surgeon General, Ministry of Defence, London SW1

Take back mail and railways

To put it politely, the Labour Party does not have much of a history of unanimity. Yet its Party Conference voted unanimously to renationalise the Royal Mail, and again unanimously to renationalise the railways. Polls consistently show those to be the views of 70 per cent of the electorate, the same percentage that supported Ed Miliband’s successful prevention of a military intervention in Syria.

If Mr Miliband were to announce that he intended to renationalise the Royal Mail, then he could stop its privatisation, since no potential buyer would take the risk. As for the railways, whereas the private franchise-holders cost the taxpayer colossal sums in subsidies and have abysmal levels of passenger satisfaction, the publicly owned East Coast Main Line is very highly rated by its passengers, and it is heavily in profit. Yet this insane Government wishes to return it to the private sector from which it has already needed to be rescued not once, but twice.

Miliband should promise to take back each of the franchises into public ownership as they came up for renewal in the course of the next parliament. Renationalisation could then be achieved at no cost whatever. On the contrary, the precedent suggests that it would transform appalling drains on the public purse into a tidy contributor to it, the East Coast Main Line writ large, British Rail. Most people already recognise that. Let them be given the option of voting for it.

David Lindsay

Lanchester, Co Durham

Why they call  us nimbys

It is hardly a surprise that the Labour Party is going to promise to increase the number of new houses to be built, primarily around London. It is also unsurprising that local opinion is going to be ignored, as in a recent survey of my area: 94 per cent of respondents were against a massive increase in housing.

The reasons for the chronic shortage of affordable houses in the London area are threefold: an increase in life expectancy; family breakups which involve two houses instead of one; and immigration. One of these is a direct result of central government policy.

Thus people like me, who moved out from London to give our families a better quality of life, are called nimbys and are given their comeuppance by London moving to us.

Lyn Brooks

Ongar, Essex

The end of a tolerant era

Reading Robert Fisk’s heartbreaking narrative of what has befallen the 2,000-year-old town of Maaloula (26 September) it occurs to me that Syria is finally broken. It cannot be put back together. The dystopian ideology of Wahhabism/Salafism nurtured in the sands of Arabia is succeeding in putting an end to the culture of pluralism and tolerance in Eastern Mediterranean for all time. That it is being done with active support of our political elite for the perpetrators who raided Maaloula in the name of Islam is a matter of  conscience for each of us.

M A Qavi

London SE3

Protest ignored

On Sunday I, along with at least 50,000 other people, marched through the centre of Manchester to protest at the Government’s cuts – especially what they are doing to the NHS. Given that the police said that it was one of the largest demonstrations they have policed, I thought that you would have some mention of it in Monday’s paper. You, like the BBC, appear to have ignored it. If there had been trouble I have no doubt that it would have got major headlines in all the media.

Rachel Gallagher

Gravesend, Kent

Peril at sea

At least it was a stolen kayak in which burglar Paul Redford tried to escape across the Channel, not a Thames amphibious tour craft.

Ian McKenzie