There are obvious similarities between Covid-19 and the climate crisis, not least that left unchecked both will cause deaths on a massive scale, destruction of economies and, in the case of the climate emergency, could even end life on earth as we know it.
We have been well aware of the threat of climate change for several decades and rather than take informed actions, we have chosen instead to prevaricate, delay, and blame others. At best we tinker with the problem, telling ourselves that if we change how we consume – electric cars rather than petrol ones, for example – then all will be well and good. But we have to accept that we all must simply consume considerably less of everything; energy, travel, food and general stuff. A true sea change to our consumer led economies, personal lives and expectations is called for.
The result of our unwillingness to accept radical change can be seen all around the globe with forest fires out of control in California, Oregon, and Russia, and forests from Brazil to Indonesia being uprooted to grow palm oil. Currently there are four hurricanes building in the Gulf of Mexico, the permafrost is thawing in Siberia and the ice caps are melting. The effects of climate change are not going away.
Unlike climate change, the pandemic roared up on us, taking the public by surprise. Covid-19 will not grant us the luxury of decades to prevaricate and stall. It’s too much of a gamble to sit around waiting for an effective vaccine, hoping the virus does not mutate, making any vaccine ineffective, or that a new pandemic doesn’t arise, because if we do it will simply destroy us and our world.
To manage and live with both climate change and Covid-19, huge long-term fundamental changes to societies and the way we live and interrelate are urgently required and it makes sense for these two threats to be tackled in tandem.
To achieve this we need leaders with vision who understand this and don’t try to bolster the systems that have failed the world with empty promises to get everything back to where it was. And it's incumbent on all of us to be open to changes at a dramatic radical level. I don’t yet see such leaders anywhere, with all current world leaders in denial on both fronts, continuing to hold out the hope of getting everything back to normal. This is certainly not going to happen on climate change and I see little reason to believe it will on the current or future pandemics.
Ross on Wye
PR disaster or triumph?
I read Jon Stone’s interesting article, but had to ask myself if a PR voting system would be any better than we have at present?
Our first past the post system has, until the late 20th century, given us wealth, a deserved status in the world, a judicial system copied by many countries, we sit as an equal at major negotiations etc. We have had a good run – time for change? Well, maybe.
In a PR system, voters would be encouraged to vote for each party’s manifesto rather than personalities and hype/lies. As to how the parties agree what manifesto to subsequently be actioned is contentious. Would we still have the bickering and school boy behaviour we have today?
Would we still need an upper chamber (The House of Lords)? Do we still need a second chamber as a check and balance for the Commons? What about all the departments that support the two chambers? There is a myriad of changes to our voting system that have to be taken into consideration before PR can be intertwined into society.
My feeling is that PR would bring benefits to the country, but it may take a generation or two for those benefits to filter through. In the meantime, heaven help Britain.
Well done Amal Clooney
Good for Amal Clooney for standing up for her principles. Unlike the government – its principles are now so far hidden that I doubt they will ever see the transformative light of day again. Honesty and integrity are the true beacons of good and trustworthy governance.
She is correct that her role as UK special envoy on media freedom had indeed become untenable and she really had no choice. But how has this country come to this? When breaking international law should ever be mooted, nevermind detailed in this craven bill. But don't worry it is only an insurance policy that hopefully will never have to be used, so that is fine and dandy then.
This parlous government is spiralling to the bottom and once one's good name and reputation is trashed, the road back will be torturous. So I congratulate Amal Clooney, for not being sucked into the swamp that is now British politics and emerging with her probity intact. She has made the right and honourable decision, as have others who have also resigned.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
Enemy of the state
The UK is in danger of leaving the EU without a deal. Our prime minister is attempting to renege on an agreement he himself signed only months ago. We can now not be trusted internationally to make any deal with anyone, about anything.
Senior members of the civil service and other organisations are resigning because they disapprove of the goings-on they are being asked to condone.
Our schools and universities are struggling to deal with the consequences of this year's exams fiasco.
Our record of accepting refugees is abysmal. It's likely that many people will soon be evicted from their accommodation, and have nowhere to live but the streets.
Covid testing is in disarray. Planning for a probable second spike of the pandemic is a shambles. Ministers lie repeatedly and shamelessly.
It would appear that the UK's greatest enemy is its present government.
Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire
What happened to rent officers and fair rents? If we had them back they could arrange rents that paid a reasonable return to property owners without bankrupting the tenants, and a lot of homelessness might be averted.
Boxgrove, West Sussex
Out to sea
I see Boris Johnson is resorting to sailing metaphors to describe the government’s current performance. Given the PM’s affection for, and possibly reliance on, his advisor Dominic Cummings, may I suggest a sailing metaphor for him. About as useful as a handbrake on a canoe.