Letters: Do we need any more evidence of climate change?

These letters appear in the Wednesday 20th November edition of the Independent
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I note with amusement that, when asked to comment on the study showing that climate change has not, as previously thought, slowed over the past 15 years (“Sceptics on back foot after climate change revelation”, 19 November), the arch climate change sceptic Lord Lawson of Blaby replied that “it needs to be reviewed by other scientists”.

With this newfound confidence in the opinion of the scientific community, can we look forward to his acceptance of the 97 per cent scientific consensus on climate change?

Nigel Tuersley, Tisbury, Wiltshire


Given the recent Overseas Development Institute report on the extent of government subsidy to fossil fuels (six times the subsidy to alternative energy), together with the devastating reports of the crushing of lives and livelihoods in the Philippines – due to climate change caused by fossil fuels – why are we not out on the streets?

Why is there not a mass uprising against the use of our taxes to subsidise the destruction of our future? Where is the mass support needed to effect some genuine movement in the climate talks taking place in Warsaw – where the Filipino delegate himself has undertaken a hunger strike to draw attention to the desperate need for this?

Judy Hindley, Marlborough, Wiltshire


The devastation brought by Haiyan is going to become the new norm due to conditions brought about by climate change.

There is  a link between climate change and increasing storm intensity: as the planet and particularly the oceans heat, simple physics indicates that the energy stored is likely to increase the intensity and frequency of devastating storms such as Haiyan, at great cost to coastal communities.

Alan Hinnrichs, Dundee


Nigel Farage does not explicitly declare himself a climate change denier, though as he blames green taxes as the cause of energy bills and rails against the “green lobby”, he makes it clear enough.

The question you ponder when someone carries on like this is: why does he suppose all these ghastly greens exist and have the influence he deplores, even on conservative politicians?

Does he really believe climate change is a set of lies got up by an international conspiracy for some undeclared, though obviously left-wing, purpose? And since it is so omnipresent and nefarious, why hasn’t it silenced the few brave crusaders for truth like him?

Green taxes are one contribution to energy bills, there’s no denying it. But believe it or not (and some won’t, even as water rises above their knees), there is a reason why we have to pay them.

Roger Schafir, London N21


Nigel Farage bases his arguments solely on price, which is hardly surprising given his background in commodities trading. 

He doesn’t seem to grasp the fact that fossil fuels, once used, cannot be replaced. As they get scarcer, they will be more expensive and eventually will be uneconomic as fuel for the masses.

Therefore, it’s in everyone’s interest to reduce our reliance on them as quickly as possible, and to develop alternatives that are not going to run out.

Obviously, the cost of these alternatives is high now but will tend to stabilise and even decrease as we develop technology to harness wind, solar, hydro, waves and other power sources more efficiently, and to reduce, or at least control, demand by reducing waste. Bringing the EU into this debate as a sort of all-purpose bête noire does nothing for the quality of the discussion.

Geoff S Harris, Warwick


Thanks to the ever-brilliant Dave Brown and his cartoon (19 November) for making me realise who Nigel Farage reminds me of; Mr Toad from The Wind in the Willows.

Peter Henderson, Worthing, West Sussex


Households in Britain are being ripped off by the profiteering energy industry. Energy prices have soared by 152 per cent in the past 10 years and many people are now being forced into fuel poverty because of the avarice of a parasitic oligopoly which knows that everybody needs energy to live.

How can six firms delivering energy to 90 per cent of households be considered “competitive”? The Big Six bosses rushed to blame higher prices on green taxes but their profits still haven’t been dented

Meanwhile, it’s been widely reported that Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw said he would be turning down a £1.7m bonus – but he trousers a £950,000 basic payment on top of his shares, and only last year was handed a £5m remuneration package.

Daniel Pitt, Mountain Ash,  Rhondda Cynon Taf


Bedroom tax – help and support available

While I can’t discuss individual cases, I must take issue with Stephen Pound’s claim (“Forced to pay the bedroom tax – even if the room is used for a kidney dialysis machine”, 19 November) that there is “no wriggle room” or “any local ability to look at this humanely”.

The Borough of Kensington and Chelsea contacted everyone affected by the new housing benefits rules to explain what help and support is available, including discretionary housing payments. There was nothing perfunctory about this: we spoke to many people and made special efforts in cases where the impact was likely to be greatest.

On the face of it, anyone in the circumstances described in your piece would be highly likely to qualify for a discretionary housing payment, and we would urge Mr Pound to get in contact so that we can discuss his case.

Councillor Nick  Paget-Brown, Leader, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Higher prescription charges a false saving

We are against the proposal from Reform (“Extending NHS charges ‘could raise £3bn’”, 19 November) which would make it harder for a wide range of people to afford life-saving medicines.  

Evidence shows that one in three people in England already doesn’t collect all their medicines because of the cost. If people don’t get the medicines they need, they become more unwell – which leads to greater Government spending in the long term.

Increasing prescription charges runs counter to initiatives to improve the health of people with long-term conditions and reduce health inequalities. Higher charges would place additional pressure on the NHS, as people become ill because they aren’t able to afford all their medicines.

We do support the need for prescription charges to be looked at again, but we need a solution that enables people with long-term conditions to get their medicines without having to make decisions about whether to heat their homes, eat or treat their condition.

The debate the Government in England needs to have with the public is whether prescription charges are fair. Prescription charges are effectively a tax on hard-working people unfortunate enough to get a lifelong condition that can’t be cured.

We would like to see greater exemptions from the charge for people with long-term conditions, creating more equal access to better health.

Howard Duff, Director for England, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, London SE1

The old and grumpy are always with us

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is

foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress.”

Who wrote that? Could it be The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (18 November)? No. It has been attributed to a sermon by the medieval saint Peter the Hermit.

I am 57 and fortunate to know lots of admirable people below the age of 25. They give me great hope for the future. There is nothing wrong with “young people today”. There probably never has been. There have been problems of ignorance, poverty, greed, inequality, discrimination, and injustice since time began – evils largely perpetrated by those with wealth and power (usually over 30). And there has always been the problem of growing old and getting grumpy and taking it out on the “youth of today”.

Stuart Tunstall, Windsor


The accent is on discrimination

The Cumbrian teacher who was told to speak “more southern” must be furious (“School ‘told teacher to sound less northern’”, 19 November). Has teacher-bashing escalated into ethnic cleansing? Should all diverse-accented teachers head to the border or else risk dragging their schools into special measures?

Ian McKenzie , Lincoln


Thank you for the latest contribution to my “northern-bashing” file – which is rapidly expanding. As an unwilling (born and bred northerner) resident of Kent, I am subjected to this sort of diatribe on a daily basis. All my qualifications (degree, MSc, PGCE etc) count for nothing against my “uneducated” northern accent. Of course, it is entirely my fault, as I refuse to erase my flat vowels. I hope this teacher’s union puts this up for a long overdue debate – in which  all accents are welcome.

Susan Whitworth, Herne Bay, Kent

Obvious solution to badger problem

Maybe the Government will consider taking all the West Country’s badgers and putting them on bicycles in London?

Mike Shearing, Southall, London

Talk about the old generation

Roger Daltrey’s reported reactionary comments on immigration prove some people should die before they get old.

Sasha Simic, London N16

Turn off and tune out...

The 10 best meditation apps (18 November)? The first step is to turn off your phone.

Yours in prayerful meditation.

Sister Catherine CHN, Peterborough