Reading the comments attached under media stories about the US and China signing an agreement to reduce carbon emissions, I found the usual petty diatribes from climate-change deniers and contrarians.
The funny thing is that their interventions are so utterly pointless. What are they in fact afraid of? Why does the act of creating employment by making homes more energy efficient, thereby saving money and alleviating fuel poverty, terrify the living daylights out of climate-change deniers? Are we to imagine that they sit at home with their fridge doors and windows open just to be able to waste a little more energy and money?
Why are they so afraid of the world moving on from fossil fuels? Why do they resent powering cars and homes differently? Would this same bunch of naysayers have been found at the side of the road at the end of the 19th century, screaming abuse at electric streetlights and shouting for gas lamps to be retained?
Never has so much venom and angst been expended so pointlessly.
I live in solid nimby country which has seen off a number of wind-turbine proposals. The objections mostly centre on the appearance of turbines in the countryside. One thing which doesn’t seem to enter the heads of the objectors is that the impact is strictly temporary.
If one day they are superseded by some better form of energy conversion, the towers can be taken down and all that will be left is a small concrete base. The countryside will be as it was. Quite apart from the global-warming issue, there will be no destruction by opencast sites, no acid rain, no aquifer contamination and no radioactive waste to be stored for 25,000 years.
What will our great-great-grandchildren think of us if we contaminate and degrade our beautiful country for ever, just because we want to preserve the view from our windows for our brief lifespan?
Your editorial “Brisbane’s legacy” (17 November) needs a reality check. Obama may have forced climate change on to the G20 agenda, but nothing substantial was agreed. Australia’s prime minister is in denial about climate change and has disbanded his advisory panel. Both Abbot and Putin wanted climate change off the agenda because both countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for their energy needs and foreign revenue. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and Australia of coal. What Brisbane demonstrated is that the chances of the UN brokering a meaningful climate-change deal next year in Paris are close to zero as long as deniers and dictators are in a position to sabotage the negotiations.
Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
David Hockney (report, 17 November) raised an important question when he said, “We can go on and on about oil, but if there wasn’t any, what would happen?” The International Energy Agency has said that two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves need to stay in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, and for many climate scientists, that is a conservative estimate.
We have the capacity to transition to a way of living without oil dependency – new technologies, renewable energy and adjustments to consumption patterns can make this a reality. If we shifted to living “as if there weren’t any oil”, we would be taking a significant step in protecting the planet for future generations.
The oil industry propagates a myth that fossil fuels are an essential part of our way of life. By sponsoring arts institutions, oil giants such as BP create the impression that they are generous and responsible; they cleanse their image and purchase a “social licence” to operate. But many in the arts world not only recognise the risks of tacitly supporting the fossil-fuel industry but, from the artist Conrad Atkinson to the playwright Mark Ravenhill, are willing to speak out against it.
Free patients to make their own IVF choices
Professor Evan Snyder is right that mitochondrial donation must be licensed for patient trials or use only once regulators are satisfied that any risks are sufficiently low (report, 17 November).
But while US regulators are free to make this judgement, UK regulators are not: clinical use of the techniques involved is currently illegal in the UK but not in the US. It is thus critically important that Parliament rapidly passes regulations to allow mitochondrial donation in principle, so that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority can license specific clinics to offer it as soon as there is evidence that it is safe enough to proceed.
Families affected by devastating mitochondrial diseases, properly advised by their doctors about risks and benefits, are best placed to decide whether to use these techniques to try to have a healthy child. They should not be denied this reproductive choice for any longer than is necessary.
Dr Jeremy Farrar
Director, Wellcome Trust,
Don’t let murderers choose our words
When someone commits a brutal and deadly act against another person it is often referred to by the media as a “killing”. Similarly those who commit such acts are often referred to as “jihadists” or “militants”.
Instead of using terms which are often generated and used by those people and groups responsible for these acts, the media should be using the words “murder”, “murderers” and “terrorists” – plain and simple. Please leave the fantasy, lies and fiction completely to the criminals.
I am deeply opposed to capital punishment and am horrified by the actions of Isis in Syria and Iraq. But consider these atrocities in the cultural landscape of the region: a quick internet search shows that Saudi Arabia beheaded 16 people in the first half of August this year alone. If it is a barbaric act for Isis then surely it is a barbaric act for Saudi Arabia? Western media, in general, condemns Isis but remains silent about Saudi Arabia.
Plenty of musicians north of the border
I read with interest Adam Sherwin’s article on the National Children’s Orchestra and the north/south divide (14 November). But I would like to reassure your readers that classical music is alive and well in Scotland. We have our own National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, which run a variety of orchestras at different levels from ages eight upwards, all to an amazingly high standard.
As I write this letter, I have just welcomed 60 nine- to 15-year-olds to one of the Scottish Schools Orchestra Trust’s regular Play Away Days in Perthshire. Seeing them at work convinces me that enthusiasm for classical music among the current generation of youngsters in Scotland remains high.
OK, we have six flutes but only three bassoons, and 19 violins but only five violas, but all these children are showing real interest and talent and a genuine desire to achieve high standards in orchestral playing. The National Children’s Orchestra of GB is doing a fantastic job, but please don’t assume that youngsters who don’t audition for it are not capable. Maybe they have simply found another outlet.
Director, Scottish Schools Orchestra Trust,
Countryside is a killing ground
Deirdre Conniss (Letters, 17 November) criticises Jane Merrick for “expecting the countryside to operate as a gigantic playground for herself and other townies”.
My experience is that the opposite is true – it is country landowners who expect to use the countryside as their own giant playground, mainly involving games that result in wildlife being hunted to death.
Merrick has clearly outraged Ms Conniss by “raiding” farmers’ sloes on hedges. She was perhaps lucky to find any sloes at all, as many farmers’ hedges are currently being massacred by heavy machinery, a barbaric process which strips off all hedgerow food, depriving not only the odd presumptuous “townie” of a few sloes, but thousands of birds of their winter food supply.
If the landowners and farmers of the countryside would stop slaughtering badgers, foxes, hares, deer, game birds and birds of prey, and decimating wildlife populations through intensive farming methods, they would be in a better moral position to lecture others.
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire
My tiny contribution to the cost of Europe
I have just received a letter from HM Revenue and Customs showing how my tax was calculated in 2013-4 and how this money was spent. Since it seems that three-quarters of 1 per cent is spent on Europe, it can be seen that both Ukip and the Coalition are guilty of gross exaggeration.
A knotty landing
The existential problems experienced by the hapless Philae lander (15 November) bring new meaning to the expression “caught between a rock and a hard place”.