Capitalist orthodoxies fail in the face of “a crisis that can only be endured and resolved by rediscovering the virtues of collectivism and solidarity”, writes Andrew Rawnsley (Comment). Precisely, and this is why a similar approach is needed to confront the climate emergency – and why rightwing governments will fail to do so unless they adopt a leftwing approach that does not prioritise market and profit and instead sees the merits of massive state intervention. And the coronavirus crisis rather pointedly undermines Philip Cerny’s remark that the nation state cannot have a key role in this (“My solution to the climate crisis”, Letters). What we are learning now is the importance, yes, of individual responsibility and local initiatives but also of decisive governmental action to enforce the suspension of business as usual, and of international cooperation. The only other essential element is a recognition that the climate emergency is just as pressing and very much more of a mortal threat than even the current pandemic.
I read with interest the interview with Professor Tim Lang with its important messages and mention of Covid-19 (“Why our food supply system doesn’t work“, Focus). I too am concerned about the UK’s food supply chains, given it imports at least half of its food. If imports of food, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, decline because countries like Spain and Italy are going to struggle to feed themselves because of this pandemic, this would affect the diet of the UK’s population, particularly the elderly, young and disadvantaged. It would be reassuring to know what the UK government’s contingency plans are.
Furthermore, given the likely longer-term nature of the pandemic, we should also instigate the free distribution of these foods and vitamins for the elderly in our care homes and similar institutions throughout the UK, as a matter of urgency. Vulnerable elderly people have been told to self-isolate, possibly for many months, which will reduce their exposure to sunshine, which is essential for the biosynthesis of vitamin D.
Dr Laurence Harbige
Your Sport section detailed two sums of GBP50,000 being donated by each of Manchester’s richest clubs, United and City, to their local food bank (“United and City donate combined GBP100,000 to Manchester food banks“). An act to be applauded. However, you omitted to mention that Stockport County, playing in the league’s fifth tier, and with a somewhat lower financial income, has donated the sum of GBP75,000 to its local NHS foundation trust charitable fund to help support the staff looking after local people in these troubled times. Perhaps a mention of this fact might be worthy of consideration.
Hayfield, High Peak
Good move, BBC
I gave up watching Question Time (“BBC’s Question Time accused of giving platform to far right“, last week) several years ago, when questions and comments from the audience persistently ran the full gamut from neo-Nazism to proactive idiocy, laced with an occasional smattering of common sense and decency. While audience applause would often imply a more balanced composition, spoken emphasis was consistently on the right, and had a nasty ring to it. Last week’s QT was great – I found politicians I thought I loathed rather nuanced and interesting, the discussion became constructive and illuminating, and we could at last see why the BBC chose Fiona Bruce. Good move, BBC! Fiona, Keep it up!
Keep challenging, Lucy
I’m writing with regard to the article about University Challenge by Lucy Clarke from Jesus College, Oxford (“I loved appearing on University Challenge. Then I went on Twitter…“, Viewpoint). It saddens me greatly that, since her appearance, Lucy has received such vile and ignorant comments on social media. I would like to assure Lucy that there are many of us men out there who do not judge the contestants (of whatever gender) by their appearance, nor indeed by the sounds of their voices. I do take note of who is, and who is not, answering questions, but this is certainly not gender-related; it is simply a reflection of the comparative ability of contestants. I advise Lucy to ignore puerile and prejudicial comments, because they are just not worth your time and energy. They are written by people who probably can’t even operate a Biro, never mind answer a question on University Challenge.
Disastrous Lib Dems
Barbara Ellen defends the Liberals’ claims during their disastrous 2019 election campaign as a tactic to “distance the Liberals from Labour” in Tory seats (“A shout-out to the Lib Dems, who at least were an option“, Comment). What a pity that the rest of us can’t distance ourselves from the consequences of the 2010-15 rundown of the NHS and social care which Liberals voted for under Nick Clegg, or the Liberals’ 2015 endorsement of absurd Tory claims that it was Labour’s investment in public services including the NHS – not the recklessness of the bankers – which was the cause of the global banking crisis, thereby legitimising the continued Tory rundown of the NHS in 2015-20.
Right trees in the right places
Your article, “Fewer oaks, more conifers: Britain’s forests must change to meet climate targets” (News), is a prime example of not seeing the wood for the trees. Yes, there are trade-offs between the types of woodland we create: exotic conifers suck carbon out of the atmosphere faster, whilst native broadleaved species grow more slowly but tend to support more species of wildlife. But endless infighting between foresters and conservationists risks obscuring the bigger picture.
We face a dual ecological crisis – the climate emergency and the breakdown of nature. Friends of the Earth’s analysis shows we easily have enough land to double UK tree cover. By growing the right trees in the right place, we can help lock up millions of tonnes of carbon and create much more space for wildlife. To achieve this we need a diverse group of approaches, including rewilded woods, sensitively planted commercial forests, bigger hedgerows, and agroforestry on farms. Rather than squabble over the details, let’s collaborate to make this broader vision a reality.
Guy Shrubsole, Friends of the Earth
What goes up…
David Head asserts that science and technology have made little impact on the metaphors that we use in everyday life (“Metaphorically speaking”, Letters). Really? What about all those lightbulb moments and quantum leaps, the occasions when we are railroaded into a decision, things that disappear into black holes, governments that lack the bandwidth to deal with more than one issue? But perhaps scientific and technological metaphor is now so much part of our DNA that we are hardwired not to notice it.