Sir: You report that an ecology study forecasts all wild seafood will disappear in 50 years (3 November). Having just published Cornish Fishing and Seafood, an examination of the Cornish fishing industry, we beg to differ.
It is easy to paint a picture of severe problems in global waters, as the report in Science makes abundantly clear, but this broad-brush approach should not be applied unquestioningly on a local scale.
During 19 months of research and interviews with Cefas (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) scientists, working fishermen, and fish-buyers and sellers, large and small, it appears stocks in the waters usually fished around the Cornish coast are in remarkably good shape and still have healthy stocks of most of (but not all) the 40-plus species traditionally caught there.
Cornish fishermen have already recognised the need to pursue sustainable systems to protect both fish stocks and their livelihoods, voluntarily introducing conservation measures such as closing 3,600 square miles of known breeding grounds off the north Cornish coast. The Fal Oyster Fishery is a supreme example of careful management. Other wide-ranging schemes, plus the draconian quotas imposed by Brussels, mean these South-west fishing grounds are likely to remain well-stocked and managed.
But it is imperative to find solutions that will also maintain the social and economic fabric of coastal communities. The plight of fishing worldwide, judged solely from numbers of a few seriously threatened species such as cod and tuna, may well be as dire. But this does not imply this global gloom applies to every species, in every fishing area.
AUTHOR, YELVERTON, DEVON
PHOTOGRAPHER, LONDON, N10
More ways to cool the planet
Sir: The publication of the Stern Report will do much to focus attention on the need for drastic action. But as long as this action remains exclusively based on the unrealistic assumption that the major CO2-producing countries will reduce their fossil fuel-burning by the enormous amount required for temperature stabilisation, it is unlikely global disaster will be avoided.
The book by the eminent UK scientist James Lovelock (The Revenge of Gaia, Allen Lane, 2006) draws attention to geo-engineering schemes which could, as an interim measure, produce a global cooling to balance the warming due to increased CO2 production, so preventing cataclysmic effects such as significant rise in ocean levels while new (non-CO2-producing) energy sources are being developed.
The Nobel Laureate, Paul Crutzen, has proposed inoculating the stratosphere with vast numbers of small particles of sulphur, which would reflect incoming sunlight back into space, thus producing a cooling.
Another idea is being examined with my collaborators, Professor Tom Choularton, Manchester university, Professor Stephen Salter, Edinburgh university and Professor Mike Smith, Leeds University, and their colleagues.
This cooling could be achieved by increasing the reflectivity of low-level, shallow, maritime clouds by atomising seawater to produce tiny droplets which enter the clouds and cause them to become more reflective.
Computations using the Meteorological Office's global climate model show the scheme could produce a global cooling sufficient to balance the warming resulting from a doubling of the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, by seeding clouds in three oceanic regions which together cover about 3 per cent of the Earth's surface. To date, we have published three papers on this work.
This has the advantages that: (one) the only raw material required is seawater; (two) the amount of global cooling could be controlled, and (three) if necessary, the system could be switched off with conditions returning to normal within days.
But, as with the Crutzen plan, there are possibly deleterious meteorological ramifications which must be satisfactorily examined before operational deployment. It is deplorable that resources have not been provided to enable these ideas to be adequately examined.
PROFESSOR JOHN LATHAM
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH, BOULDER, COLORADO
Sir: Your correspondent who postulated that the energy realised by nuclear fuels (Letters, 31 October) will have a detrimental effect on the global climate need have no fears. The energy from the sun incident on the Earth is more than 170 thousand million MW, The output for a new nuclear power station is 600 to 1,200 MW. One would need several million nuclear power stations to have an effect equal to the natural variability of the sun. There are 440 operating worldwide, producing 17 per cent of the world's electricity.
PROFESSOR R DUPREE
LEAMINGTON SPA, WARWICKSHIRE
Sir: Please bang me up in the stocks; allow the eco warriors to vilify me. After all, I drive a 4X4: case proven. Even though I need this for my forestry business and it returns 32mpg, and there are small, fuel-efficient 4X4s, the large, fuel-guzzling two-wheel drives seem to escape.
If fuel use does contribute to the imminent death of the planet, limit fuel use through draconian taxation. Use the revenue raised to install carbon neutral energy generation. Taxation on a class icon, the Chelsea tractor, is pointless. If we disconnect the front prop shaft and become two- wheel drive are we assured our place in eco heaven?
Smith believed in transparency
Sir: There is a common omission in the article on Adam Smith (30 October), the so-called founder of free market philosophy. He believed the free market system would work only under conditions of total market transparency. In other words, only if we have full knowledge of one product compared with another, including the cost of production, could we make a decision on what the true market price was. Modern advertising, marketing and branding have been designed specifically to obscure market transparency.
Imagine, instead of a TV ad showing a cosy, middle-class family warming themselves by a gas fire, as a smiling service man drives off in his gleaming van, that we were told the gas offered came from Russia, produced such and such an amount of heat per unit, cost the supplier so much per unit and was being offered to the customer for such and such per unit supplied. Now, that would be Adam Smith economics.
LISBURN, CO ANTRIM
Sir: In the article on Adam Smith, some important aspects have not been covered. He gained a Snell exhibition to Balliol (1740-46), but was soon appalled by the low level of scholarship, the outmoded subjects of the lectures and the stultifying religious atmosphere.
Smith sat and read in the library for the six years he was there and made up his mind that when he got back to Glasgow university he would preach that science not religion would be the benefactor of mankind.
Then, with David Hume and others, he let it be known lowland Scots was not mature enough a language to cope with the coming Industrial Revolution. Few people in lowland Scotland spoke English in the 18th century, other than the university lecturers and the clergy.
So, by 1761, societies were set up to teach English to the people. Then, when Latin ceased to be the academic language, the Scottish literati had no alternative to their native vernacular but English. This is how the Scots came to dominate the Industrial Revolution.
W J DEMPSTER
Reasons to resist inquiry on Iraq
Sir: No wonder Margaret Beckett and other cabinet ministers wish to avoid an inquiry into the Iraq war ("Blair fends off demand for inquiry with majority of 25", 1 November).
Sir Michael Jay, the permanent under-secretary of state, when giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2003, said: "The main ministerial discussion which takes place on foreign policy issues is in cabinet ... and I think I am right in saying that Iraq was on the agenda of each cabinet meeting, or virtually every cabinet meeting, in the nine months or so, up until the conflict broke out in April."
There were countless opportunities for members of that cabinet to have asked questions which would have exposed Mr Blair's fraudulent case for war. It has been convenient for them all to let him take individual blame for the Iraq crime. An inquiry could reveal the guilt of these accomplices, wrecking their chances for continued high office.
Police work within a strict system
Sir: Matthew Norman's Opinion ("Oops - he's gone and shot someone again", 3 November) has caused great offence to the hard-working police officers who do a demanding, difficult and dangerous job every day of their working lives.
The analysis is one we do not recognise, and one we know from being in daily contact with our communities, that the public won't either. Such is the depth of feeling that we have come together in this way to signal our disquiet.
Not only is the analysis flawed but the writer is ill-informed about the workings of the police force, the tripartite nature of its constitution, and its accountability, in which police leaders are rigorously managed against performance and officers work within a strict and accountable discipline system.
Criticism of the Police Federation, suggesting staff associations shield members from legal accountability, is unfounded. No police officer of any rank is above the law.
In an unarmed police service, with only a limited number of fully trained firearms officers at any time, it is ridiculous to suggest that an officer should not be on those duties if he or she has fatally injured someone in the past and, after rigorous examination, has been cleared of any inappropriate behaviour.
We invite Mr Norman to spend some time on the front line to see how police serve the people, and we are confident that will make him reconsider his views which we believe do not stand up to scrutiny.
PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF CHIEF POLICE OFFICERS, LONDON SW1
CHAIRMAN, POLICE FEDERATION OF ENGLAND AND WALES
Red tape keeps a doctor jobless
Sir: I am a doctor who, having completed my postgraduate exams, recently accepted a promotion as a specialist registrar. I was to start on 23 October, after the four-week notice period at my previous NHS job.
Since then I have been unemployed, pending criminal record bureau (CRB) checks. In fact, this was completed more than a week ago but the documents have yet to arrive and the CRB will not resend them until two weeks have elapsed. It is ludicrous that I have become unemployable while transferring jobs within the NHS. In addition to the skills lost from an idle doctor, the NHS are paying a locum to cover the post I am desperate to start.
I know I am not the only doctor in this predicament. It is not surprising the NHS is in such financial crisis.
DR EMMA FLETCHER
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Sir: It would indeed be a disgrace if the centenary of W H Auden's birth were not marked by the BBC. We are organising a festival of Auden's works at his old school, Gresham's, Holt, for 14 to 16 September 2007. Lord Gowrie is our patron. We will have a full weekend programme, including lectures, readings, film shows and performances of Auden's cabaret songs.
SECRETARY, IN PRAISE OF AUDEN COMMITTEE, HOLT, NORFOLK
Sir: The article "Study says almost all cluster bomb victims are children" (31 October), doesn't mention that the reason why as many as 80 per cent of the cluster bomblets fail to explode immediately is because they were manufactured that way. Some are fitted with photo-sensitive fuses triggered by passing shadows, others have long-delay detonators allowing children to play with the bomblets before they explode. Man's cruelty to his fellow man is surpassed only by his inhumanity to the defenceless and innocent.
Sir: Bruce Brown's cartoon (Rogue's Gallery, 4 November) of King Canute and the waves continues the widespread misrepresentation of this story. Rather than foolishly trying to stem the tide, it is more likely that he was demonstrating his lack of omnipotence, as compared to his Christian god.
DR TOM SMITH
Honour in charity
Sir: I was dismayed but not surprised to read that Victoria Beckham believes her husband David deserves an honour for his charity work. (Pandora, 2 November). I was of the impression that "charity work" was voluntary and unpaid, helping the less able or less fortunate for no reward. Is it not time that the honours system was reviewed?
CIA's Pollock plot
Sir: When I was a post-grad student at UCLA in the early 1960s, it was widely held that the CIA was responsible for Pollock's extraordinary take-off ("Pollock's 'No. 5, 1948''', 3 November). Apparently, the CIA realised the Soviet Union's sponsorship of culture (think Bolshoi) was giving it the edge over the raw commercial and military power of the US and the order went out, "Find something American, and push it hard". The CIA settled on Pollock and began to generate higher, artificial prices - and the consequent publicity - for his work. If this is true, as I believe it to be, it shows the CIA can do some things really well.
BURWASH, EAST SUSSEX
West Bank aid
Sir: It is possible to buy fairly traded olive oil from Palestine in this country and support the farmers in the West Bank ("Palestinians battle to protect olive crop", 3 November). I buy mine from Zaytoun Olive Oil (www.zaytoun.org).