7 December 2013

9:00 AM

7 December 2013

9:00 AM

Climate scientists write…

Sir: Lord Lawson has written in his diary (30 November) under the online summary headline ‘my secret showdown with the Royal Society on global warming’, but the reality is rather different. As he is aware, the purpose of the meeting on 19 November was not to put on a public performance, but to provide Lord Lawson with expert advice on climate science. The science summarised by the climate scientists was generally agreed to by all present.

Lord Lawson charges that we ‘were very reluctant to engage on the crucial issue of climate change policy at all’ and that we had no interest in ‘the massive human and economic costs involved’ in implementing policies to mitigate the effects of climate change. As climate scientists, the human and economic costs of the changes happening to our climate are of grave concern. Climate science has a key role to play in informing policy.

That said, it is also crucial that the status of the science can be discussed independent of any political views. While climate science undoubtedly does have important policy implications, scientific conclusions about the scale and pace of climate change caused by human activity are independent of these considerations. Indeed, public understanding of and trust in scientific assessments of the risks posed by climate change will be greater if discussions about the science are not politicised. The fact that we focused on science rather than policy on this occasion was precisely for these reasons.
Brian Hoskins
Director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Imperial College London
Gideon Henderson
Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford
Tim Palmer
Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, University of Oxford
John Shepherd
Research Fellow in Earth System Science, University of Southampton
Keith Shine
Regius Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science, University of Reading
Andrew Watson
Royal Society Research Professor, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter

Mind the unmentionables

Sir: Educational underachievement may be a ‘classist’ issue more than a ‘racist’ one (‘You can’t say that’, 30 November). Mr Liddle might reflect that, while nationally 63 per cent achieve five A* to C at GCSE, only 40 per cent of black boys do — and just 26 per cent of white boys eligible for free school meals. Only Roma students perform worse — and they were excluded from the Centre for Social Justice study.
Malcolm Redfellow

Sir: No sooner had I read Rod Liddle’s piece on truths that politicians dare not acknowledge than I came across two more examples. First, Ukip criticised one of its own MEPs, Stuart Agnew, for stating that men outnumber women in top positions partly because many women choose to prioritise child-rearing over career building. But he’s right. Only 12 per cent of mothers say they want to work full-time, and two-thirds of working mums say they’d like to reduce their hours even if improved child care were made available.Then Boris Johnson got into hot water for pointing out that some people lack the intelligence needed to perform high-level jobs. Nick Clegg was outraged by what he saw as this ‘unpleasant, careless elitism’ but again, Boris was right. Liddle worries that politicians are terrified of confronting awkward facts, which means crucial questions go unasked and sensible policy options are kept off the agenda. As I showed in my 2011 Civitas report, ‘The Rise of the Equalities Industry’, there are many such examples in our contemporary politics.
Peter Saunders

Pants advice

Sir: Oscar Humphries, in his extraordinary piece on buying women sexy undies for Christmas (‘Knickers for the lady’, Spectator Life, 30 November), states a couple of laughable assumptions. Firstly he says that fellow travellers on the tube will see him with his Agent Provocateur shopping bag and think ‘that we have someone, that we love and are loved’. I beg to differ. I think most people, seeing that someone had made such a purchase, would think ‘You dirty old man!’ Secondly he tells us that ‘the assumption in giving lingerie is that it is something that you’ll both enjoy’. I would like to warn men contemplating going down this route at Christmas that this assumption is woefully incorrect.

As for his assertion that one might ask for the naughty knickers back at the end of the affair (which comes sooner rather than later with this kind of stratagem), I fear that Mr Humphries is in for a lifetime of strange looks and slapped faces.
Michael Limb
London W13

Sandwich philosophy

Sir: With regard to Mark Forsyth, (‘Save the soundbite!’, 23 November), and apparently philosophical but meaningless pronouncements by politicians, let us not forget the old ham sandwich proof. Nothing is better than Eternal Happiness. And a ham sandwich is better than nothing. Therefore, a ham sandwich is better than Eternal Happiness.
Mark Burnyeat
Mattingley, Hampshire

Low Life’s high life

Sir: Last night I encountered your engaging Low Life correspondent drinking Veuve Clicquot in Annabel’s nightclub. Surely more Taki’s manor. Have you got your casting right?
Neil Mackwood
Dallington, East Sussex

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