Does this government have any idea what it’s doing on global warming?
It has just signed a far-reaching agreement in Paris which commits the country to taking rapid and serious measures to change the way in which we generate energy. Cameron, along with other world leaders, basked in self-adulation at this achievement. But the Government knows perfectly well, because it was made clear by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that a restriction of warming to 2C (let alone 1.5C) can only be achieved by removing carbon from the atmosphere.
That means developing methods to perform that difficult feat. And Britain seemed to be in the lead in the development of carbon capture and storage techniques for use in coal-fired power stations; that is, until October when our brilliantly green Prime Minister decided to cancel the project after four years of competitive development.
And in just two weeks’ time the feed-in tariff on fitting solar panels to one’s house will go down from 12.5p per unit to a ludicrous 1p, so we cannot expect to see any more solar power on people’s roofs.
Up in the Orkney Islands devoted groups of engineers and entrepreneurs are working to develop wave power and current turbine systems and test them in those rough waters, but with pathetic little drip-feeds of support which are insufficient to bring any system to market, and which are tiny compared to the massive overt and covert subsidies still being ladled out to the fossil fuel industry.
I suspect that both the Chancellor and the Prime Minister actually despise renewable energy, but someone needs to remind them that they have actually signed up to all that “green crap” in a solemn international agreement.
Professor Peter Wadhams
Your two editorials of 14 December (“It’s getting hot in here” and “Good luck Major Tim”) were connected.
It’s hard to believe that decisive action will take place, globally, to prevent catastrophic climate change. The pressures exerted by population and economic growth are too strong. We will, in any case, soon exhaust the “small blue dot” of its minuscule resources. Yet the resources in space are all but infinite, and it is far easier to manage a modest artificial environment than a natural planetary one.
To go to the Moon, we had to recycle air. To inhabit a space station (economically), we have to recycle water as well. For a mission to Mars, we must also learn how to recycle food and block radiation. Once these technical challenges are met, there are few remaining obstacles not just to the exploration and exploitation of space, but to living there permanently. The greatest of these is an economical way to escape Earth’s gravity; something in which Britain leads with the Sabre engine and proposed Skylon spaceplane.
Spaceflight is not merely a PR stunt; it will prove essential technology for the survival of our civilisation, such as it is. In the meantime, there are riches to be won. Comsats and weather-sats are just the start.
Dr Ian East
Your editorial “It’s getting hot here” (14 December) fails, like almost every public policy statement on climate change, to mention the contribution which we can all as individuals make, by avoiding air and car travel whenever possible, reducing our meat consumption, etc. So long as people think the solution is solely a matter for governments, a crucial piece of the jigsaw will be missing.
Surely a culture which promotes liberty and individual enterprise ought to be more attuned to what each human being can do to reduce the harm to our grandchildren.
Any progress toward action on climate change is welcome.
What has not been mentioned is that the discussions have been between nations, though the final arbiter is nature, and she neither negotiates nor gives quarter. I am not convinced that the human delegates quite got that. Nature is indifferent to our survival. There is no plan B.
Haydon Bridge, Northumberland
Cold callers are people too
Thank you to those who have defended cold callers (letters, 14 December). Over several years looking for permanent employment I’ve twice found short placements in different call centres, with long lists of people to phone each day.
Many weren’t interested and would reject the call as soon as I finished my introductory sentence, pleasantly or frostily, but still politely. However, there was also a great deal of angry or obnoxious conversations to get through, and it makes such a job feel like a nightmare.
Would you start the same tirade when a shop assistant suggests you buy something at the till in addition to your goods? Do you treat a cafe assistant with the same distaste if they offer you the large-size coffee? I suspect the answer to be no. Most would think twice about treating another human like dirt if they could see the pain they have inflicted. Sadly, those such as Sean O’Grady sit back in their chair, smug at their ability to outwit somebody who never set out to outwit them.
The only way cold calling will stop is by an act of Parliament. Meanwhile, if the callers themselves could make money some other way then they would.
With regard to the current correspondence concerning cold callers, I apply the following practice. I am always courteous; I simply say: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I’m not on the phone here.”
Let’s be honest about what the NHS costs
As a retired NHS consultant who was fortunate to have worked in the Health Service when there was relatively more money available for what would now be seen as limited treatments, I read your editorial “Critical condition” (7 December) with interest.
It does not surprise me that NHS funding has failed to keep pace with what, to me, are the extraordinary, but costly, advances in investigation and treatment of diseases since I qualified as a doctor.
What angers me are the repeated failures of successive governments to be honest with the electorate regarding NHS funding.
This, to me, is epitomised by the decisions made by Nice to refuse to fund certain expensive treatments for cancer as they are “not cost-effective”. This politicisation of medicine is repulsive, and demonstrates just how pusillanimous our politicians are when it comes to being honest about the cost, and painful decisions that need to be taken about the NHS.
Perhaps a referendum on the options for funding the NHS should be held to enable the electorate to make an informed decision about this?
Findon, West Sussex
It is extremely worrying that the NHS failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of more than 1,000 mental health patients, according to a report into Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
If this trust has not properly reported and investigated deaths then this could constitute a breach of the Human Rights Act. Public bodies have a duty under Article 2, a right to life, to thoroughly investigate unexpected deaths where the patient is under the care of the trust, either in hospital or even in the community.
Human rights lawyer
Slater and Gordon, London WC2
Trump’s clash of civilisations
The outcry against Donald Trump is hypocritical and belated. He’s simply produced an especially crude version of an argument that’s been around on the American and European right for decades.
This argument, which seeks to equate Islam with terrorism and draws on Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations, has been the common currency of neocon and right wing politicians, academics, bloggers and “think-tanks” since the mid-1990s. It fed the “War on Terror”, the absurd campaign to prove that Barack Obama was a Muslim and the anti-immigrant politics of the so-called English Defence League (who several years ago were allowed to march with a police escort through my home town), the UK Independence Party and other such organisations in Europe.
And, whatever the disgusting Trump’s malign achievements, he still wasn’t able to knock your daily Pressure-Grows-on-Corbyn story off the front page (“Fresh calls for Corbyn to drop ‘Stop the War’ ”, 10 December).
How witty of you to describe Donald Trump, in Friday’s report, as a “mogul”. The Mogul or Mughal emperors were, of course, Muslims.
East Farndon, Northamptonshire
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