Letters: Floods are a warning of climate catastrophe

The following letters appear in the 14th December edition of the Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Sunday 13 December 2015 16:56
Environmentalists attend a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, during the World Climate Change Conference 2015
Environmentalists attend a demonstration near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, during the World Climate Change Conference 2015

Having founded the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) in 2011 because of an ominous escalation of methane emissions from the Arctic seabed, I find it is disturbing that our advice to the Environment Audit Committee in 2012 has not been heeded.

The Arctic sea ice is clearly in a death spiral, with dreadful repercussions if there is further decline. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, could rise to levels surpassing CO2 in global warming effect. The sea level could rise several metres this century as the Greenland ice sheet melts. And, most alarmingly, there would inevitably be a rapid escalation of weather extremes, which have been growing in intensity over the past decade, with a long drought in California and floods over here.

The warming of the Arctic has reduced the stability of the weather system structure, allowing the polar jet stream to get stuck in blocking patterns which cause long periods of similar weather: dry or wet, hot or cold. The Met Office continues to prevaricate about the cause of floods, but rapid warming of the Arctic is the main culprit.

Such weather extremes can only get worse, so AMEG has advised action to cool the Arctic as the only way to prevent climate catastrophe. Cuts in carbon emissions, the only concern at the Paris Climate Conference, will not come in time to prevent such a catastrophe.

John Nissen

Chair, Arctic Methane Emergency Group, Bath

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns... our leaders take showers instead of a bath while our cities are flooding. The greatest contribution to our demise is made by road vehicles and their calamitous discharge of carbon dioxide. Which country will take the unpopular but necessary step of ordering the public to forego the use of their cars for one working day a week? This is a no-brainer. Given six months notice, I’ll guarantee it will be an event hardly noticed and an opportunity to meet new people once a week by car-sharing.

My guess is that it will become so appealing that we’ll all be asking the Prime Minister to make us leave our cars at home for two days a week. Additional benefits will be the price of fuel dropping to 60p a litre, plenty of parking spots, and a booming economy with more money in people’s pockets to spend. It might save the planet too.

Mike Joslin

Dorchester, Dorset

Millions are spent on state-of-the-art flood defences in Cumbria and yet a few years later the very next inundation is worse than ever. Could it be that the precautions have simply exacerbated the problem? I have read that work done in other countries has simply moved the disaster to other points in the watercourse.

The problem is that much of the water that would run off relatively harmlessly upstream is concentrated and reaches areas farther downstream with dire results. Is this too simple an explanation for the disaster recurring after preventative engineering?

Anthony O Wilkinson

Ruddington, Nottinghamshire

With jubilation, delegates at the Paris Climate Conference celebrated the fact that they have “saved the world”. I will only believe this when emissions really do start to go down. And I will be watching out for indicators that show whether that jubilation in Paris was well founded. The first litmus test that we need to keep an eye on is whether the Government decides to go ahead with a new runway in the London area. If this happens, then we will know for sure that everything decided in Paris was simply hogwash.

Alan Mitcham

Cologne, Germany

By the time Heathrow has overtaken Gatwick, or Gatwick has overtaken Heathrow, or the unused Manston Airport, just outside Ramsgate, has overtaken both Heathrow and Gatwick, video-conferencing will be the preferred meeting of minds for businessmen and women everywhere.

Godfrey H Holmes

Withernsea, East Yorkshire

Blame the company not the cold caller

Before using one of the tricks for warding off cold callers mentioned in Sean O’Grady’s article “The great revolt against cold calling has begun...” (12 December), perhaps it is worth putting yourself in the position of the callers.

It must be a dreary task to sit in a call centre, endlessly contacting people, hardly any of whom will be pleased or interested by the approach. The blame for the nuisance lies with the company employing them, not with the individual. Surely a brief but polite response before ending the call would be better.

Gordon Elliot

Burford, Oxfordshire

I am as annoyed as the next person by cold callers, but Sean O’Grady’s attack on an exploited bunch of workers at the bottom of the economic pile leaves a bad taste. I just terminate calls, kindly and courteously.

John Davison

London SW16

I find the best way of dealing with cold callers who manage to get through is to ask them for their password before proceeding. The smart types quickly quote a number and I then ask them for their mother’s maiden name – at which point they realise they are dealing with a complete idiot.

Either way, the conversation is very brief when I say: “Sorry, you have failed security.” And I’m left with a smile on my face while putting the phone down instead of being angry at having my time wasted.

Martin Woodhead

Ickleton, Cambridgeshire

Thanks for giving the Tariq Ali view

Thank you for Tariq Ali’s article (“The assault on Stop the War is really aimed at Corbyn”, 11 December). At last we have a clear and truthful explanation of what all this storm-in-a-teacup attack on Stop the War is about. It is so obvious really.

The constant anything-to-unseat-Corbyn daily crap spewed out... I wonder that everyone is not thoroughly bored by now. Certainly many must be getting wise to such behaviour (if they weren’t already) and certainly less trusting of both mainstream politicians and the media.

At least The Independent’s across-the-board politics allows it to publish the occasional favourable article. Tariq Ali talks in a way that makes sense, whether you agree with his politics or not.

Mora McIntyre


I read Nancy Taaffe’s letter (11 December) and wondered what would have happened on some momentous occasions in the past if we had had a majority of MPs of the kind she wants. Would we have gone to war against Hitler? Would we have responded as we did to the invasion of the Falklands? I am inclined to think the answer to both would have been no. And what sort of world would we be living in today?

Dudley Dean

Maresfield, East Sussex

We don’t have any left-wing politicians

Every day somebody prints the phrase “left-wing Jeremy Corbyn”, We have no left-wing politicians and have never had a left-wing government. If we had, this country would be a republic, and there would be no titles, no House of Lords and no public schools, and all utilities, housing and transport would be publicly owned. Access to justice would be open and free, the NHS would get what it needs, and everyone would pay all their taxes.

What we have is posh-boy, right-wing politicians, foaming-at-the-mouth right-wing politicians, and Tories-lite. Occasionally somebody mentions something to do with social justice but nobody actually does anything useful.

Carole Penhorwood

Brentry, Bristol

Trump had some words for it

I was born as the Second World War was finishing, and my parents had been in uniform for its entirety, defending what was our way of life, values, and beliefs.

But in recent times I have seen political correctness going from mild madness to sheer insanity, and anyone who says anything that someone decides is “not politically correct” is branded “-phobic”, with -phobic being used in every possible form. We have seen people who have worn a crucifix threatened with dismissal because the “imaginary” someone may be offended. We have seen the creep of forced marriage, female genital mutilation, so-called honour killings, acid throwing, deviation from conventional animal slaughter, secret schools, and the formation of sharia law courts in areas that are developing into non-English-speaking ghettos – all in the name of multiculturalism.

When Donald Trump made a comment last week, the politically correct tub-thumpers came out in force, but six words that he put over said it all: “What the hell is going on?”

Colin Cookson

Glenrothes, Fife

Howard Jacobson’s remarkable trousers

Where does Howard Jacobson buy his trousers? He must tell us. Or is he being disingenuous when he claims “no one has ever been mugged by a person carrying a well-thumbed copy of Middlemarch in his back pocket” (12 December)? I defy any man to get a copy of Middlemarch in his back pocket, thumbed or unthumbed.

Dominic Kirkham


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