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Tuesday 4 December 2012
Letters: The world needs a deal on carbon pricing
It is vital that the Doha climate change conference makes progress and lays the groundwork for an ambitious and effective deal in 2015 ("'Recklessly slow' climate talks as greenhouse gases hit new high", 3 December). With the challenges to business and society growing daily, there is no time to lose and no room for complacency.
A key policy that could help drive fast and cost-effective emissions reductions, and that has the support of business, is carbon pricing. Last month over 120 global companies issued a communiqué urging politicians to make carbon pricing "a core policy objective".
A clear, transparent and unambiguous carbon price is the most efficient route to emissions reductions, if backed by adequate ambition and supported by complementary policies. A market-driven global carbon price would provide regulatory certainty and create a level playing field to drive low-carbon investment.
Governments face many challenges in these straitened times, but climate change is among the most serious. By making concrete progress on carbon pricing, policy makers will be helping themselves to reduce global emissions and stimulate green growth at the lowest cost to society.
Chair, The Prince of Wales's EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change
President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Chair, International Emissions Trading Association, Senior Climate Change Adviser, Royal Dutch Shell
It is an indictment of our society and the press which reflects its interests that Ed Davey's admission that we are losing the fight to keep climate change in check only merits a minor article and does not mention the costs or suffering associated with this failure.
The $42bn costs of Hurricane Sandy and the 200,000 deaths in Burma from Cyclone Nargis in 2008 demonstrate the significance of this failure. Inevitably, climate change will increase the frequency and severity of these "freak" weather events.
What is more frightening is that the global warming effects of CO2 emissions last for hundreds of years. This means some of the blame for the climate change we suffer now could be laid at the door of Brunel, Edison and Krupp from their coal-powered industrial revolution, as well as Ford, Rockefeller and Sheikh Yamani who created our oil-addicted age. It also means that the full effects of the huge increase in global CO2 since the 1970s will be felt and suffered by generations to come.
Cannabis and mental illness
The Cockburn articles on schizophrenia last week were wonderful, and should be on the desktop of every practising psychiatrist, and every news editor tempted by the "psychotic" tag.
However, as an inner-city psychiatrist, I have regularly asked patients about cannabis and its effects, and the answers are perfectly "sane". If it makes them feel paranoid or uncomfy, they stop. Mostly they find it does not exacerbate symptoms, rather they feel relaxed, "cool", and more in touch emotionally. Given the chronic emptiness of many sufferers' lives (and lack of support, resources and love) it is cruel that they have to go through the criminal system (like those with multiple sclerosis) to obtain relief.
As you have stated, there is a 2 per cent, perhaps 4 per cent increase in the prevalence of schizophrenia in teenage cannabis users, but that "excess" is well within the 20 per cent plus rate of undiagnosed illness, and remains an association, not clearly a causation. There is no increased rate of the illness in cannabis-endemic countries such as Jamaica, and there has been no increase in the UK over the past 30 years, despite much greater cannabis consumption in much greater strength of THC ("skunk").
If health concerns were truly the basis for products being illegal, then alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and cars should be banned forthwith.
Dr Trevor Turner
Bravo The Independent for your excellent special report last week on schizophrenia. It is wonderful to see a newspaper championing a condition that usually only gets negative and sensationalised press.
I am a community mental health nurse and see at first hand how difficult it is for individuals to live with schizophrenia, but also how they can have successful and fulfilling lives with access to the right care, treatment and resources.
Thank you to Patrick and Henry Cockburn for sharing their story with us, and I wish Henry the very best in whatever he does.
Run the press like the BBC
How do we let Murdoch and Desmond and the like get away with it in the first place? All this fuss over press regulation would not be necessary if we simply stopped individuals from owning or controlling newspapers. That is what is wrong with our press. The broadcasters in the UK are satisfactorily balanced; why can't the press be?
If the BBC were like Fox TV in the USA, it too would be used to present biased views. Thank goodness it is not, and is balanced in its output by its constitution, not owned or controlled by an individual.
So why do we allow the press, so very influential, to be biased in the interests of its owners, able to bully politicians in the owners' interests? Make the press like the broadcasters. The wealthy magnates could still sell their views but designated as comics with disclaimers on their front pages.
Oh yes, and prosecute a few for sex discrimination unless they show nude men on page three too.
I came across this passage today in Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye. Harlan Potter, a newspaper magnate, is speaking to Philip Marlowe:
"I own newspapers, but I don't like them. I regard them as a constant menace to whatever privacy we have left. Their constant yelping about a free press means, with a few honourable exceptions, freedom to peddle scandal, crime, sex, sensationalism, hate, innuendo, and the political and financial use of propaganda. A newspaper is a business out to make money through advertising revenue. That is predicated on its circulation and you know what the circulation depends on."
As succinct as you could wish for, and predating Leveson by some 60 years.
One of the reasons that people fear the press is that in order to obtain redress for wrongdoing they need to employ expensive lawyers. If, however, libel were to become a criminal offence such that public prosecutions became the first stage of legal action, then the likelihood of casual and wanton defamation would be reduced. The civil action could follow later and would be less costly to the wronged party and consequently more likely to restrain the less reputable members of the press.
Skewen, West Glamorgan
New housing for asylum-seekers
Your report "Asylum-seekers left in housing limbo after G4S fails to deliver – again" (20 November) claims local authorities in Yorkshire are being forced to house asylum seekers after G4S failed to meet a deadline to rehouse them in private sector accommodation. This is not the case.
We received confirmation from the UK Border Agency and the current housing providers, the local authorities, on 9 November that the deadline for rehousing all those concerned would be 7 December. Plans to move those affected – which were agree by all three parties – are well under way and we are confident of meeting this deadline.
Where families with children have needed to move, we have found alternative accommodation nearby. No child has been forced to move school as a result of G4S taking over the contract to provide housing for asylum seekers.
Interim Group Managing Director, G4S Care & Justice Services, Crawley, West Sussex
North and south of MacKenzie
I am not sure why Kelvin MacKenzie is so keen to introduce a "Southern Party" to protect the good people of the South from us pagans in the North (as reported by Will Dean, 4 December). We already have one called "the Conservative Party".
Will Dean might spare a thought for those of us southerners who are not aficionados of the wit and wisdom of Kelvin MacKenzie. It is possible to live and breathe within reach of London without being a bigoted anti-northern rent-a-mouth. And anyone who would set the cultural and economic vibrancy of Glasgow at nought compared to the charms of Guildford, a town known primarily for its interruption of the smooth flow of the A3, should be confined to the latter permanently.
Would not the happy news of the royal pregnancy be an opportune moment to put right a glaring anomaly in the long roll of English monarchs? Contrary to popular belief, the history of England did not begin with "William the Conqueror, 1066". There were three kings of England named Edward before the 13th-century "Edward I". They were Edward I "the Elder" (900-924), Edward II "the Martyr" (975-978), and Edward III "the Confessor" (1042-1066). Which makes the Queen's late uncle Edward XI.
Votes in prison
It seems counter-intuitive that the Government's intention is to continue to deny convicted prisoners the vote, in defiance of a European human rights ruling. Prisoners are perhaps the one sector of society who might have been expected to take a genuine interest and, indeed, an active part in the recent Police Commissioner elections.
Now that Lord Justice Leveson has lifted the lid on your phantom founder, Brett Straub, is it not the time to invite him to contribute an occasional column? Subtle and hilarious spoofs (Bridget Jones, Talbot Church) have been some of your paper's finest achievements.
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Nick Clegg hints that pro-EU Lib Dems would accept Conservative demands for a referendum
Ed Miliband unveils stone carved with Labour pledges to be placed at Downing St if he wins
Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
Britain may be forced to ration the internet, expert warns, as web use could consume 100% of nation's power supply by 2035
General election 2015: Not voting makes you responsible for the worst that follows
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