Letters: The dogma of the climate deniers

These letters appear in the Thursday 3rd April edition of the Independent

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Your editorial of 2 April is absolutely right to say that “science is not opinion” and to identify the climate change deniers as coming from the political right.

The reason the BBC cannot find experts in climate change to argue against the phenomenon is that no scientist worthy of the name would do so. What we are seeing is a new variation on the science-versus-religion debate: the god of the new dogma is the free-market.

The deniers are nearly always very comfortably off, or supported by billionaires such as the Koch brothers. In their arguments they are wrong about almost every detail except the truth which really haunts them. It is that their free-market model, based on unfettered pillaging of our planet’s resources, has to end if climate change is to be checked.

If not, we are headed for the greatest extinction of species (including our own) since the Permian era. However, like all religious fanatics, the deniers would no doubt consider that a small price to pay to protect the sanctity of their dogma.

Steve Edwards, Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

Kate O’Mara’s theatre rescue

We at the Kings Theatre in Southsea are deeply saddened at the death of Kate O’Mara (Obituary, 1 April). Kate spent much of her youth at the Kings, which was built by her great grandfather in 1907 and later run by her actor/manager grandparents.

She loved theatre generally, and the Kings in particular. She performed here many times. We particularly remember her outstanding performances in The Taming of the Shrew and An Ideal Husband.

When the theatre was in its direst need – in danger of being converted into a theme pub or, worse, demolished – Kate became a supporter of Akter (Action for Kings Theatre Restoration) and, later, a patron of the rescued and rejuvenated theatre.

I know Kate was delighted that her beloved theatre is going from strength to strength. We will miss her passion and enthusiasm.

Paddy Drew, Southsea, Hampshire

Seven a day? Who can afford it?

We hear that if we eat seven portions of  fruit and veg a day we will live longer. Well, I’m afraid that all but the wealthy are going to die before their time.

The government recommendation of five a day was bad enough, and the poorer in our society could not have managed that. Has anyone who makes these recommendations ever thought where the money is going to come from? Anyone who actually goes shopping will realise that five a day for a family of four for seven days will cost more than their budget for an entire week’s groceries. We are now seeing fruit sold at prices per item instead of per weight.

They should think before making silly recommendations that are beyond so many people’s reach.

Dave Croucher, Doncaster

Public health doctors appear to have been taken in by the report regarding the benefits of eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Only a moment’s reflection is needed to realise that those eating larger amounts of fresh fruit and veg are likely to be people who understand the benefit of a healthy lifestyle and can afford to pay for it. So they are probably, also, doing the other things that are part of a healthy lifestyle, such as taking exercise, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation; in addition, they are likely to have the knowledge to seek medical advice for early intervention for any health problems.

 By increasing the quantity of fresh fruit and veg consumed from one portion a day to seven or more, you may improve your health and therefore reduce your risk of dying, but until all the other factors have been excluded you cannot know by how much. It’s misleading to suggest that we only have to change our diet to reduce our risk of dying by  42 per cent.

Michael Charvonia, Southgate, Middlesex

Two of the top 20 charities, receiving £100m-plus, are Cancer UK and the British Heart Foundation. I assume people hope these research charities will find the answer to these endemic ills. Yet how upset and angry people get when told we are eating junk and that eating healthily may well help us avoid suffering these diseases.

I suppose the real answer is that people want to go on eating a high meat, sugar, fat, salt, alcohol, soda-pop and refined-grain diet and do as little exercise as possible. They give to these medical charities in the hope they will come up with a pill, potion or procedure that allows them not to change their unhealthy lifestyle.

Sara Starkey, Tonbridge, Kent

Squash is not just for toffs

Squash may be “too brutal” for Roger Federer, but Lalit Bhadresha (letter, 26 March) makes a good case for bringing this sport into the Olympics. Sadly, here in Britain squash has the reputation of being a game for toffs and is little played by teenagers in the state education system.

But squash is easy to learn, can be played all year round, develops agility as well as stamina, and unlike contact sports can be enjoyed throughout our working lives and beyond. It would be relatively inexpensive to incorporate a couple of squash courts whenever a new school is built, and this would be a very cost-effective way of developing physical fitness in young people. 

David Hewitt, London N1

Childless marriage is still marriage

Commenting on gay marriage, Kevin O’Donnell (letter, 31 March) defines marriage as the potential for children. That is a dangerous path. We struggled with infertility for several years. If it had been proved that one of us was infertile and therefore lacked the potential to have children, would we have been less married or not married by this definition? Infertility is a big enough cross to carry without adding this idea to it.

Brian Dalton, Sheffield

England’s share of humiliation

I think the performance of the cricket team this winter has finally sent Stephen Brenkley over the edge (2 April). Waitrose may or may not regret sponsoring the England cricket team, but they won’t be bothered about the share price as they are part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.

Rob Edwards, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Every student’s education benefits us all

I am shocked that you should defend tuition fees (editorial, 1 April).

Who, among those who support tuition fees, would like to live in a society without education – a society without architects, engineers or doctors? Who can imagine what such a society would be like?

There would be much less informed discourse, more superstition, no scientific medical care or ways of fighting disease, no safely designed buildings and none of the fruits of technological progress that make the life we know possible. Who wants to step into a lift built by an unqualified engineer?

It would be a return to the jungle. We all need education, whether we take it personally or not. When we visit a doctor, switch on a light, flush a toilet, take a ship, a plane or any vehicle we are benefiting from education.

Everybody who takes an education is benefiting us all and we should all be grateful; we all need educated people. It is those who do not take an education who should be penalised.

What sense is there in making education obligatory until a certain age and then obliging people to pay to continue?

The goal of education should be simple – to nurture everyone according to their ability. The better we do that the better our society will be. Education is the best and most important investment we can make.

Dennis Leachman, Reading

You ask “How can it possibly be fair for those without a university degree to stump up for the income-boosting education of those who do?” (editorial, 1 April). That is entirely reasonable.

But should you not also ask “How can it possibly be fair for those graduates who repay their debt to society by doing comparatively low-paid work in nursing, teaching or social work to stump up for the income-boosting education of highly-paid graduates in banking or hedge fund management?”

The answer to both questions is the same. The fair way to pay for higher education is to use the income tax system to ensure that the more a graduate is paid, the more they pay towards the HE costs of all graduates, while non-graduates are left with nothing to pay towards HE costs at all.

What is blatantly unfair is to charge all graduates the same £9,000 per year, regardless of how much financial benefit they gain from their graduate status.

David Rendel, (Higher education spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, 2003-2005), Upper Bucklebury, West Berkshire

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