Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Your letters

Desperate alarmists

Desperate alarmists

Sir, — Last week Greenpeace hurriedly issued a quasi-apology for a member who published this threat to those outside the “climate change is real and man-made” cult: “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.”

A Guardian columnist and Greenpeace employee then added: “We would actually solve a great deal of the world’s problems by chopping off everyone’s heads. Why are you deniers so touchy? Mere calls for a beheading evoke such a strong response in you people. Ask yourself a simple question: Would the world be a better place without Matt Ridley (a peer, businessman, writer and blogger at www.rationaloptimist.com)? Need I answer that question?!

The latter was accompanied by a picture of a severed head!

The failure of climate alarmism seems to be pushing its desperate devotees towards advocating ISIL’s behaviour.

While such overt intimidation trumps Justin Bowles’ dissimulation (Standard, January 23) by not revealing in his ad hominem attack on M Reid that he owns Climate and Risk Ltd and also runs a website that “takes the reality of climate change as a given”, his comments and those of fellow correspondents Andrew Hawkins and V Gilson cannot be allowed to lie uncorrected.

We have heard the “told you so” rejoicings when the global temperature in 2014 was headlined as being two hundredths of a degree higher than the previous record.

What was not mentioned is that weather stations measure and report in tenths of a degree with a margin of error of +/- one tenth of a degree — five times the reported change — so it could just as easily have been down as up.

Indeed, NASA has now admitted that it is actually far from certain that 2014 set a record at all — it only has 38 per cent confidence in its report.

In a similarly delusional vein we are told by many, including Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that “97 per cent of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming”, ergo it is real.

That certainty must evaporate on realising that they are actually talking about 97 per cent of 79 scientists — 77 people who could all be fitted on to a Routemaster bus. Policy is being dictated by noise, not fact.

It is well past the time to give the climate doomsters their due by turning off the taps through which we, the world’s taxpayers, are hosing them down with money in salaries, grants and subsidies; the caveat being that if their theory were ever to be proved correct they, or other more practical scientists, could then seek funds to design ways of living with the results.

There will be plenty of time for that even under the most apocalyptic of the warmists’ forecasts.

As far as the UK is concerned, M Reid’s call to repeal the Climate Change Act represents the very least to demand.

Given that an 18-year increase in the trace gas CO2 from 350 to 400 parts per million (+14.3 per cent) has coincided with 18 years of static global temperature, it is worth noting just two of the many benefits of that increase in plant food.

Crop yields worldwide are significantly up and the Sahara Desert is rapidly greening inwards from its edges — both very good things for humanity and the globe and both achieved quite naturally.

It is worth reminding ourselves that one of the key warmist prognostications is of the imminent mass migration of millions due to climate change.

At present we have had no mass migrations attributable to that cause but more than 17 million actual refugees and 33 million people displaced by wars and turmoil around the world (source: United Nations High Commisisoner for Refugees).

A tiny fraction of the public money now being wasted on climate alarmism could help many of these poor and innocent people to have the chance of a decent life.

Finally, I would advise Messrs Bowles and Hawkins and Ms Gilson that science is not consensus and consensus is not science.

In their search for enlightenment they should avoid using only sources whose existence depends solely on the public purse. Their predecessors, after all, rejected, inter alia, plate tectonics, vaccination, viruses, the Big Bang and space travel to name but a few. — Yours faithfully,

P M M Collings, Harpsden Road, Henley

Experienced scientist

Sir, — Having read J Bowles’ first two letters, I have, out of respect for adult debate, refrained from reacting to his childish name-calling, mockery and feeble attempts at wit.

The points I made in my last letter were in direct response to previous letters, not “mishmash”.

Unable to respond to my points, his latest letter attacks the messenger with ill-informed waffle rather than the message. Therefore I no longer feel constrained.

Even in his two attempts at refuting the evidence, i.e. by repeating the “hottest year ever” scare, he is wrong, having jumped the gun by quoting headlines.

NASA’s Gavin Schmidt, who made the announcement, now admits that he is only 38 per cent confident, or to put it another way he is 62 per cent confident he is wrong.

The satellite data shows that he is completely wrong. “Propaganda” indeed.

Mr Bowles’ other attempt is just another straw-man argument. I never denied that water vapour is a “greenhouse” gas. In fact, it is the most dominant one.

However, there is no evidence that a small warming from man-made CO2 leads to a large net positive warming feedback, except in climate computer models.

Add to that his unquestioning sycophantic appeals to authority and there is really not much left.

I understand that Mr Bowles arrived in Henley four years ago, having spent over 20 years abroad as a financier. He appears to be studying for a new career on the climate gravy train.

Without wishing to denigrate his teachers, contrary to his ad hominem remarks, I actually spent my whole working life with scientists and engineers of a very much higher calibre, many from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

I am sure these NASA colleagues are now deeply embarrassed and saddened, along with the 30 Apollo astronauts and scientists who recently sent an open letter to the head of NASA in protest at what climate alarmism has turned NASA into.

Having lost funding for its core role of space exploration and aeronautics, NASA turned to where the money is. From US government published data, the US alone now spends more than $4 billion annually on climate research.

I never claimed that climate alarmism makes scientists rich. I know only too well, unlike hedge fund managers, that scientists and engineers are not paid well in the UK but they do need funding and jobs.

If they now admitted that their premature catastrophic predictions are unfounded, many of their jobs and their prestige would go.

Mr Hawkins’ letter was more interesting than Mr Bowles’ but added nothing to the global man-made CO2 case.

We are a tiny part of the earth, surrounded by water, with a very complex weather system. However, the Met Office, from which he got his data, provides the most plausible explanation.

There is a very strong correlation between hours of sunshine and mean UK temperature. Extra sunshine is thought to have increased due to a reduction in UK air pollution (not CO2).

Of course, correlation is not evidence of causation. However, during our pre-industrial history, such as the medieval warm period and Roman occupation, proxy data shows higher UK temperatures than today.

Mr Bowles’ comments about web surfing are insulting and ignorant. I was, along with colleagues in the UK and worldwide teams at high-energy particle physics research laboratories, one of the first adopters of the web and participated in getting it off the ground by designing applications to help the scientific community, being part of a team to make data sharing simpler and faster for particle physicists.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, was part of the CERN team.

I would guess that Mr Bowles’ experience is limited to using financial aids, surfing and his blog site as his letters amply demonstrate a lack of in-depth objective and sceptical observation that renders him ill-equipped to comment on scientific experimental data. — Yours faithfully,

M Reid, New Road, Lower Shiplake

Money isn’t the answer

Sir, — There was a very worthy letter from Justin Bowles regarding climate change followed by another from Andrew Hawkins with regard to global warming. Are these the same thing? Only asking.

Mr Bowles quotes NASA, Mr Hawkins quotes the Met Office. Maybe I’ve got this wrong but weren’t NASA supposed to do space stuff and the Met Office the weather for the next few days?

It has been a delight to hear the Met Office’s predictions for the global climate in 85 years’ time. Do get a grip.

We must get back into the realm of commonsense about “global warming”.

Not NASA, not even Reading University academics, nor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have all the answers.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was intended to address various issues raised by climate sceptics. In fact, it has plumped down firmly on the warmist side of the debate.

But the BEST boffins have broken ranks with the NASA, NOAA and the Met Office climate establishment and bluntly contradicted the idea that one can simply say “2014 was the hottest year on record”.

The data shows a marginally higher average temperature but actually only within the statistical error range.

However, BEST data shows global temperatures rising by 2.35C in the century to 1960 but the rate of rise declining in the century to 1990 to 1.67C and declining further since.

What’s overwhelmingly relevant are two salient facts. You don’t get funding by acting as a calming influence as all the academics and research establishments know. Which leads politicians and the media to accept alarmism.

But the second is the real item for all of us. Western societies and individuals have discovered cures and answers for many of life’s adverse challenges and have correspondingly raised average life expectancy by 20 years within the last century. Not by fright, not by government intervention and certainly not always by scientific consensus.

Throwing unbelievably vast sums of money at CO2 reduction as the sole answer will repress world economic growth, inhibit developing nations from reaching their potential and distract research from the improvement of our lives in many other ways.

The rate of growth in global warming has already been declining for more than 50 years. — Yours faithfully,

Richard Jones, Reading Road, Henley

NHS ignored residents

Sir, — I was saddened but not surprised to see that the bureaucrats of the NHS have learned nothing from their experiences in the many years it took to get Townlands Hospital off the ground.

They have again dismissed the needs of the local population and are using outside authorities to run the few beds left at Townlands. I have lived in Henley for more than 50 years and during this time I have had the comfort of knowing my loved ones were under the care of my local GP.

In the Seventies my wife’s father was nursed in Townlands under our GP. Recently it was a great relief to know my wife died in Townlands under the care of her GP.

Even more recently, when recovering from a knee operation, I had the comfort of being looked after by my GP in Townlands.

Surely it is good to have the local GPs always at hand running the few public beds left at Townlands? It looks again as if the NHS’s dead hand has taken over from common sense.

What has happened to our committee for Townlands? It should now be keeping the pressure on the NHS to get it right for Townlands before we the public disappear under the bricks and mortar. — Yours faithfully,

George Leslie, St Andrew’s Road, Henley

Where was the advice?

Sir, — I was somewhat surprised by Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak’s comments on the GP contracts at Townlands Hospital (Standard, January 30).

He is a member of the Townlands Steering Group and has been for some time. The group is a committee reporting to Henley Town Council to provide “advice and guidance” on all aspects of the Townlands project.

This 29-member group (asking for another 19 members from neighbouring parishes prior to Christmas) was totally unaware of the loss of GPs’ contracts.

It was also totally unaware of Sue Ryder pulling out before Christmas. Indeed in April 2014 it was criticised at a full council meeting by Barry Wood, another committee member, for inactivity.

There appears to have been no “advice” given to the council by this group for the past two years and I would suggest this is to the detriment of the residents of Henley who have now lost two major functions at Townlands.

Could we ask though your paper:

Who is the chairman of this group? What advice has the group given to the town council? Does the chairman have any reasons to continue the group in this form? What actions he/she is going to take to recover the two situations outlined? — Yours faithfully,

James Davidson, Greys Road, Henley

Serving the community

Sir, — The recent decision to award the care of patients at Townlands to a group which it is rumoured will run an experimental “virtual” service just shows what happens when you keep decisions out of the hands of the community.

The Townlands Steering Group, which has done a heroic job to make sure Townlands gets built, now needs fresh powers to ensure that the “health campus” is run in the best interests of the community which it serves. — Yours faithfully,

Dick Fletcher, Mill End, Henley

We’ll always do our best

Sir, — We are pleased to say that since resigning from Henley Residents’ Group the response from the Henley public has been very supportive, which has allowed us to continue our work, totally unencumbered, as Henley councillors.

We both continue to work hard and pursue areas that we feel contribute to the wellbeing of Henley.

This can be seen, for example, from the Mayor’s monthly diary and my involvement, for example, as chairman of both planning and the neighbourhood plan governance committee.

We both realise that Henley will face many challenges in the future particularly the fallout from the 450 homes that Henley and Harpsden must build. There will be traffic and many infrastructure problems that will need our full attention and we are ready for this.

We would like to continue our work for the town but realise that to be really effective in dealing with those new challenges we need to be part of a group that consists of hard-working councillors that have a common aim.

Having looked at all options, we feel that the Henley Conservatives are a group that thinks like we do and therefore will do their utmost to help Henley through the difficulties ahead.

We will therefore propose to stand with the Henley Conservatives at the next town and district elections in May and, if elected, will continue to give our very best for the people of Henley. — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Dieter Hinke and Councillor Martin Akehurst, Mayor of Henley, Henley Town Council

Black day for democracy

Sir, — Sometime in the next few weeks, the residents of Goring and Streatley are going to be denied the right to have local democracy and local government working on their behalf.

The proposed new Tesco Express store on the site of the former Queen’s Arms pub has aroused strong feelings in the villages, with more than 2,000 people signing a petition against the new store and more than 100 written responses received by South Oxfordshire District Council, almost all opposing it.

These people had expected the planning applications for the store to be heard in public, with their elected representatives debating the case for and against.

However, a delay by the district council in setting a date for the planning committee to discuss the applications and hear residents’ views has led to Tesco lodging an appeal.

This appeal will be decided by a planning inspector in Bristol and, at Tesco’s request, he will make his decision on his own, just reading the evidence. If he decides in favour of the appeal, then the applications will be granted and the new store will go ahead, regardless of what councillors think.

The inspector does have the option of holding the hearing in public but he has stated this will not happen, so the residents, both for and against the proposal, will be denied the opportunity for their voices to be heard, or for their elected representatives to have any part in the decision-making process.

However, if the inspector turns down the appeal, then new applications that have been put in by Tesco will be decided by the district council’s planning committee and in this case the process will be in public with people able to attend and have their views heard.

We would therefore appeal to the inspector to either hold a public hearing himself, or to reject the appeal, so the new plans can be debated in public.

Otherwise a major decision, affecting the future of the villages, and the lives of more than 4,000 people, will be made without proper scrutiny by them or their elected representatives.

Whatever the merits of the store, if this happens it would indeed be a black day for local democracy. — Yours faithfully,

Emrhys and Linda Barrell , The Bridleway, Goring

Pointless speed checks

Sir, — I read with dismay about the tragic vehicle accident on the A4074 at Cane End in which Emily Clements lost her life (Standard, January 30),

Loss of any life in such circumstances is always distressing, heartbreaking and such a waste of youthful potential. My heart went out to all involved.

It only occurred to me later that the A4074, or Woodcote road, is in fact the notorious road known as the “13 bends of death”, a stretch of highway that has claimed dozens of lives and casualties over the years and yet is still completely neglected by traffic police, speed camera monitoring or even council traffic management systems. Yet the B481 junction at Shepherd’s Green, not more than a few miles away, is patrolled and the subject of speed cameras so often as to perhaps warrant the building of a checkpoint and police canteen.

All this effort to catch those habitual lawbreakers — stressed and beleaguered parents on the daily school run.

Obviously this is because of all the the fatalities on that road which, if memory serves, number as high as... er... none.

If something needed investigating it is most definitely this scandal for while on the one hand taxpayers’ money is spent boosting conviction figures, on the other the police are milking the cash cow that are parents who stray a mile or so over the speed limit.

And all the while the A4074 Woodcote Road speed circuit is left to claim more lives on an appallingly regular basis.

Policing of any sort is never easy but statistics, league tables and financial savings should never be more important than the health and safety of the public. — Yours faithfully,

Edward Sierpowski, Crisp Road, Henley

Slow down, BMW driver

Sir, — This is a message to the man driving at about 50mph in a black BMW on St Andrew’s Road, Henley, by Green Lane who raised his middle finger to me, in front of my children on our walk to school, when I waved and called out to him to “slow down”.

If you believe you have the right to speed in a residential area, particularly during the hours when children are walking to school, then I have the right to request politely that you slow down.

Your disgraceful reaction simply confirms my assumption that you knew you were in the wrong, so please just slow down before someone gets hurt. — Yours faithfully,

Amy French, Blandy Road, Henley

Two cottages not wanted

Sir, — We write in response to your article regarding a planning application for two “valuable cottages” in Christmas Common (Standard, January 16).

The previously undeveloped building zone on this greenfield site is set in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a Site of Secial Scientific Interest. An ancient (PAWS) woodland with a Saxon boundary and the Oxfordshire Way border it.

When purchased cheaply from the Foresty Commission by Mr Tipper, of Search and Management Services, clauses stated it was never to be built on.

The applicant, having discouraged residents from jointly buying the land, assured us he “wanted it to remain exactlty as it was” in a wild state, then promptly hacked down trees and brambles in an attempt to purge it of all vegetation and resident wildlife.

Numerous walkers pass this way and patronise the Fox and Hounds. Two houses crammed into a small space alongside the Oxfordshire Way would change the rural character they seek and could discourage them from coming.

This would have an adverse effect on the pub and contribute nothing to this tiny hamlet, only setting a dangerous precedent for three other plots adjoining this one. Similar houses here have been valued at between £430,000 and £480,000. Would these proposed new houses really be affordable for the majority of young people? The answer is surely no.

But, of course, there is more profit to be made from building two rather than one dwelling. Valuable cottages indeed but, sadly, only to the applicant. — Yours faithfully,

Ms S Mountford, Mr R Glover, Mrs B Godfrey, Barry Godfrey, Mrs A Morley and Mr and Mrs S Budd, Forestry Cottages, Christmas Common

It’s not just Heathrow...

Sir, — I read with interest James Burton’s article on aircraft noise in and around Henley in relation to Heathrow (Standard, January 30).

What it did not make reference to though was that the main western corridor of (departing) flights from Luton airport also fly down a line essentially following the Chilterns escarpment, so villages such as Christmas Common, Russell’s Water and Maidensgrove are also overflown by Luton departing (westbound) flights.

This is clearly evidenced by the number of Orange Easyjet planes heading south over north/west of Henley town centre, so Heathrow is not solely to blame. — Yours faithfully,

Mark Williams, Russell’s Water

Thank you for prize

Sir, — I was the very fortunate winner of one of your pre-Christmas competions, namely that offering a prize donated by Hare Hatch Sheeplands.

The prize was very welcome and I should like to thank the Henley Standard for organising the competition and Hare Hatch Sheeplands for the generosity of their prize.

Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances prevented me from enjoying the prize to the full during the Christmas period but I have now made up for lost time. — Yours faithfully,

Janet Fagan, Purley-on-Thames

Bemused by salon advert

Sir, — I was rather bemused by Marc Antoni’s full-page advertisement in last week’s paper patting themselves on the back for winning a couple of hairdressing awards.

They seem rather focused on scantily clad women wearing interesting underwear, to say the very least.

Perhaps they are all clients, or is the salon a front for a very different sort of business? — Yours faithfully,

Diana Beveridge, Shiplake Bottom, Peppard

My Henny prefers to lay in comfort

Sir, — Each day, with a very determined look on her face, she marches purposefully up and down outside the back door.

Eventually a kind person lets Henny into the utility room where she jumps on to the side, settling into a basket.

With much clucking and wriggling to get comfy, she settles down to lay her egg, not for her a draughty spot outside or common henhouse where her friends lay. Mission accomplished, she flies down and joins the others outside.

Would that we would teach her to lay them directly into the egg boxes! — Yours faithfully,

Diana Jackson, Ipsden

Keepsake of our lovely dog

Sir, — We would like to thank you, your team at the Henley Standard and the artist Clive Hemsley for the beautiful portrait of our dog Tao.

Clive has captured his personality brilliantly. We are so grateful for this opportunity. We will treasure Tao’s portait for ever. — Yours faithfully,

Neil, Kin, Cameron, Isabella and Tao Hunter

Fairfield Road, Goring

Sir, — With reference to the letter from Krista Gowing headlined “Beautiful portrait of a handsome dog” (Henley Standard, January 16), there is a saying: “Handsome is as handsome does”.

This is the dog that galloped into me from behind as I walked my dog off the Downs in September, fracturing my leg and arm.

Your artist captured the wild yellow eyes perfectly. — Yours faithfully,

Deidre Yeats-Brown, Moulsford

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