Extreme weather conditions have caused havoc in the UK, along with droughts in Australia, California and Argentina, and rapidly melting glaciers in the Arctic, Antarctica, the Andes and the Himalayas, as well as the unprecedented typhoons in the Philippines. These massive downpours sweeping across the Atlantic all match the predictions that the world’s climatologists have been making for three decades as the temperature of the world’s oceans and atmosphere continue to heat up as a result of the annual 35bn tons of CO2 we are producing from fossil fuels.
There is a direct link between these ongoing and inevitably ever-worsening climatic events and the political process. The “debate” over climate science is not between two opposing scientific views, but between solid scientific discoveries and a small group of extremists at one end of the political spectrum, aided by irresponsible sections of the media, which are doing their utmost to mislead the public about the immense threats we face. It is particularly ironic that Ukip, which denies the reality of climate change, is thriving in the polls while the poor south-west suffers directly from its effects.
There is a longstanding tradition of naming extreme weather events such as hurricanes and typhoons. Perhaps the time has come for scientists to give them more relevant titles and name them after the malicious pundits, politicians and media whose actions have prevented the world from taking the necessary steps to fight this worsening catastrophe faced by the whole of humanity.
Aidan Harrison, Rothbury, Northumberland
In The Independent of 8 February you say that I have suggested that when it comes to decisions on flood-defence spending it is a question of a choice between town and country.
I never said this and I am afraid I have been misquoted. Rules from successive governments tell us, rightly, to give the highest priority to protecting people’s lives, then to protecting homes and businesses, and then to saving as much agricultural land as possible. These priorities are sensible ones and they apply to both “town” and “country”.
Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, London SW1
Professor Salter has proposed wave-power generators (“nodding ducks”), primarily as efficient energy-generation devices. But, as a seaman, I could not help noticing the effect on sea conditions in the lee of the arrays. The calming effect on waves was remarkable, a great deal of the raw energy of the waves was extracted, leaving an area of much calmer water.
So why not have a first line of defence by means of offshore arrays of wave-power generating devices? These would diminish the power of waves approaching vulnerable areas, while generating useable power. Fixed sea defences could be correspondingly lighter and cheaper.
Weather patterns are unlikely to improve. Costs for sea defences will only increase. Martial arts emphasise the idea of using an opponent’s strengths against him. Could we not do the same?
Captain A Ian Hale, Barbon, Cumbria
The main problem of the flooding on the Somerset levels is that the senior personnel in the Environment Agency have little understanding of the unique problems of this area.
Drainage boards, made up of local farmers, have existed in this area for a century or more with the task of maintaining reens and improving field drainage. It would be far better if the Government gave the task and funding to dredge the rivers to these bodies since they have a better knowledge of the area.
With the well-known ability of farmers to drive a hard bargain, they might well hire contractors to do the job more cheaply than the £4m quoted by the Environment Agency.
Furthermore, were they to get it wrong, it is they who would suffer first. On every one of the individual moors and levels, hundreds of acres have to be flooded before the water threatens any house or road.
Tom Jeanes, Taunton, Somerset
Children deserve smoke-free cars
Legislation allowing the Government to introduce a ban on smoking in cars carrying children is a measure MPs of all parties should support.
The dangers of passive smoke to children within the enclosed confines of a car are well-established. With nearly half a million exposed to these dangers every week, arguments against legislation rest on two main pillars.
Firstly, the enforceability of this law has been questioned. However, similar laws are already enforced in countries including Canada, Australia and South Africa. There is no reason to believe UK authorities will be any less capable.
Secondly, the question of state intrusion into adult rights has been raised. However, this ignores the rights of children to breathe clean air that won’t make them ill. The duty of society to protect its most vulnerable members is a principle most people will agree on. Few are more vulnerable than a child strapped into a car, forced to breathe concentrated passive smoke.
We therefore urge our fellow MPs to support this crucial child-protection measure.
Alex Cunningham MP (Stockton North, Labour), Stephen McPartland MP(Stevenage, Conservative), Paul Burstow MP (Sutton & Cheam, Liberal Democrat)
Enforcement of the smoking ban when children are in the car is again highlighted by Thomas Williams (letters, 7 February). Making children aware of the damage to them in this situation could help in enforcement of the law. This method, a form of “parental control”, could be an effective way of reducing the health risks to young people.
Peter Erridge, East Grinstead
Selfish reactions to tube workers’ strike
I find it worrying that so many people’s attitude towards the Tube strike is “I’m inconvenienced, and therefore I’m against the Tube workers.” How about a bit of compassion for others? Few of us want all ticket offices to be shut on the underground, and so shouldn’t we support this struggle? The idea of people withdrawing their labour seems alien to many, but it’s an essential option to have when one’s livelihood is threatened. That’s why unions are so needed today; they keep profit-driven business leaders in check.
Yes, many people depend on the Tube, and yes, it’s a service; but surely we can all tolerate a bit of disruption if it helps us in the long run?
Another worrying trend is people’s attitude of “I don’t get paid enough, and my job is insecure, so why shouldn’t theirs be”? What people should say is: “Look, they’re fighting for better working conditions. Good for them, I wish I could do that.”
Clive Collins, London SW17
Having spent an unreasonable amount of time and anguish over the past few days dealing with patronising and ineffective automated systems used by utility and network suppliers, and being actively denied access to a human operative to assist me, I support the RMT’s stand against further erosion of the employment of humans to interact with fellow human customers of what should be a service, not a psychological assault course.
We moved out of London some years ago, and use the Tube insufficiently to require an Oyster card, and I’m already at a loss on occasional usage as to what options I need to request of the ticket machine. A window with a knowledgeable, trained employee is what I need at that point.
I fear the computers, and their matrix of middle-management minions who think all this stuff’s so cool, have won already. I’d have preferred this soulless mechanised future to stay in the realms of sci-fi conjecture.
Rick Biddulph, Farnham, Surrey
Isn’t it about time that we be allowed to sue unions for any disruption and inconvenience they cause to the general public? They are no longer fit for purpose.
T Sayer, Bristol
Divine intervention in cricket
The recent travails of our cricket team bring to mind a contrasting story, reminiscent also of the greater part religion used to play in life.
The tale goes that Colin Cowdrey, the renowned English batsman, returned to his hotel after scoring a century against the Aussies. He was handed a telegram which simply said: “1 Kings 18.34.” This of course is where, in the context of the famous story of Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal, the Prophet says: “Do it again”. In due course Cowdrey went back to the cricket ground and did just that – scoring a second century. He was ever after grateful for the good fortune the telegram had brought him.
Andrew McLuskey, Staines, Middlesex
To those who feel that English cricket has become an embarrassment, I would simply say: it is only men’s cricket that deserves this scorn. Try following our women’s team – we can be proud of them.
Catherine Rose, Olney, Buckinghamshire