Your downbeat front-page article is entitled, “New era of cheap oil ‘will destroy green revolution” (13 December). On the contrary, the green revolution is an unstoppable process. Here are two business reasons why.
The barrier to entry for new business people is low compared to starting a fossil-fuel energy business. It is so low that a one-man band could get one off the ground, installing solar panels or electric car charging points for example. No micro-business could decide to build a coal power station.
Second, long-term business security. Who, starting life as a new business person, in their right mind, would go for selling risky, limited fossil-fuel energy over predictable, unlimited renewable energy?
The fact is, there is an incredible amount of money to be made in renewables. The end of fossil-fuelled energy is a problem for the old generation of business owners.
A better title would have been “New era of cheap oil will temporarily slow the green revolution”.
Martlesham Heath, Suffolk
The cost of energy – fossil or renewable – is, currently, a function of the cost of production, distribution, sale and consumer demand. However, this does not reflect the full economic cost of energy.
Climate change is being driven by rising carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. The costs from climate change come in several forms: first, from damage to buildings and infrastructure from more powerful and more frequent freak weather events; second, injury and loss of life in those events; third, lost economic production as a result of these two factors; fourth and finally, measures taken to ameliorate freak weather events, such as enhanced flood defences.
If those costs were reflected in the cost of energy, then fossil fuels would not be as cheap as they appear to be, and the economic case for renewable energy would be strong.
The threat to progress on climate change as the price of oil falls could be partially offset by requiring consumers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through carbon capture and storage technology, paid for by the consumers.
In the case of aviation, which plays a vital role in the modern world, research into alternative fuels (such as liquified methane or liquid hydrogen) and development of tanks to contain them and engines to burn them could be paid for by levies on the price of passenger tickets and freight costs.
Part of the difficulty with finding out the amount of carbon dioxide released by energy production is that it is a colourless, odourless gas, undetectable by human senses. If it were a pungent green gas or an oily purple liquid, no doubt capture technologies would have been introduced long ago.
Labour ignores new Scottish democracy
In electing Jim Murphy MP as its leader, Scottish Labour proves it has learned nothing from the left-wing, grassroots movements that propelled the independence vote in Scotland from 26 per cent to 45 per cent in just two years.
Murphy, a long-time Blair protégé, is the epitome of what SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon calls a “red Tory”. His mantra throughout the Scottish Labour leadership contest was that, like any “one nation” Tory, he wanted to represent “the poor and the prosperous”.
A supporter of the invasion of Iraq, Murphy is in favour of nuclear weapons, including the moral and economic obscenity of replacing Trident.
Misguided Labour Party members might consider Murphy “electable” by the old rules of media-obsessed, spin-doctored politics, but, following the carnival of democracy that was the pro-independence referendum campaign, Scotland is a nation changed utterly.
Chapter 2 paragraph 20 of the Smith Commission report refers to “the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, as expressed in the referendum on 18 September 2014”. How was this “expressed” in a referendum where the question was “Should Scotland be an independent country?” and the answer was “No”?
When the Scots can set themselves lower income tax and higher welfare payments, will the rest of us have to make up the difference – and suffer higher income tax and lower welfare payments as a result? This bribe to the Scots can only cause resentment in the rest of the UK, particularly in the less affluent regions.
Kingston upon Thames Surrey
No freebies for public servants
Janet Street-Porter criticises the Financial Conduct Authority for spending public money on a Christmas party (13 December).
I have worked for the public sector since I was 18 years old, except for four years working for a voluntary organisation. I have never been offered or attended a Christmas celebration funded by anyone except myself.
I started as a student nurse, worked as a nurse and then a health visitor for my first 16 years. Then I worked for a charity and a council for the last 15 years. My colleagues and I have never had any extra benefit and none of us has expected it. What we have done is worked Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. I am now a middle manager in the council and we arrange a meal for all staff which they pay for themselves.
So I do not recognise the elite group of public sector staff you refer to, but I can assure you they are in the minority. Please can you represent the majority of public sector staff in the future, as we are having a hard enough time with the views of the public?
James Watson’s comments on race
Dr John Cameron (letter, 11 December) suggests that Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe “did for” James Watson, in an act of betrayal against her former teacher, by reporting his comments on race and intelligence.
It is unnecessary and vicious to name her in this way, and Dr Cameron has no way of knowing the details of the interview. Miss Hunt-Grubbe is a professional and will not defend herself against this slur. I, an acquaintance of hers, have no such compunction.
She remains mortified that she was unable to stop James Watson persisting in such comments, but it is not part of a journalist’s professional duty only to report what one likes, no matter on whom. Nor, for that matter, can a scientist only record the observations that please them. If he didn’t want his words reported, he shouldn’t have said them to a journalist on the record.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Britain can uphold human rights
Graham Bog takes a swipe at “the cacophony of Tory cries for our withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights” (letter, 12 December). Why doesn’t he have a go at Australia, Canada and New Zealand while he’s at it? None of them is a full signatory to the ECHR but each has a robust legal system.
We have a Supreme Court in the UK. Mr Bog needs to explain why he doesn’t trust it.
Stop making Ed Miliband look weird
Your leading article of 12 December tells us that “Miliband is right to point out the Coalition’s failures on borrowing. But will the public buy his alternative plan?” If your paper continues to publish photos like the one on page 18 of the same issue, which makes him look very weird, it seems unlikely that they will.
I have met Ed Miliband on a number of occasions and I can assure your readers that he is an intelligent and nice-looking man. Why would a paper that is “independent” wish to keep presenting him in the most unflattering way. It is quite easy to take a foolish-looking photo of anyone, so why pick on Ed? I haven’t noticed you publishing photos of Cameron looking absurd.
Hebden Bridge West Yorkshire
Harassment at abortion clinics
I was disappointed to read the three leading letters on Thursday dismissing the idea of buffer zones around abortion clinics. If a patient feels harassed and intimidated by the images held up by the protesters then surely it is harassment.
How would your correspondents feel if on entering a hospital for a legal procedure they had to walk past images of bloody scalpels, chests cut open, cancers being removed? No medical procedure looks pleasant, and if patients want to see pictures of what they are about to undergo, they will find them for themselves.
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