Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Scientists must engage more

Sir: Arguments over nuclear energy, stolen emails from the University of East Anglia and allegations about flawed climate data have indeed split the green movement ('The global warming guerrillas', 6 February). But sceptics mustn't get too excited. The revelations alter nothing. The centuries-old climate science behind the greenhouse effect of gases, such as carbon dioxide, is indisputable. The world is still warming and humanity is still mostly to blame. 'Climategate' should not be seen as a lapse in climate science but a failure to implement the rigorous procedures that ensure only substantiated evidence is published. The IPCC must recover from its embarrassment, get a grip and re-double its efforts to show that the evidence for human-induced climate change is real and that globally co-ordinated action on mitigation and adaptation is urgent. This will require greater openness and a willingness on the part of scientists to engage with the public and the media.

Nick Reeves

London WC1

Sir: What the global warmers relish in the subconscious depths of their being is the power which they must acquire to save the planet. For such temperaments, it had been a terrible blow when the ignorant populace ceased to believe in hellfire. Then the collapse of socialism shattered the dream of establishing utopia by decree. Just when all seemed lost, however, ecology rode to the rescue, proposing a new hell on earth, which naught but tyranny could forfend. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive. How dare the plebs insist on accurate science?

Arthur Benbow


Rewriting history

Sir: It is a shame that Rian Malan's brilliant and astute tribute to F.W. de Klerk for ending apartheid ('F.W. de Klerk: Africa's hero', 6 February) is marred by his straying into Middle Eastern politics. He contrasts the white South Africans' seizing the opportunities presented by the end of the Cold War with the Israelis, whom, he says, were also then 'presented with a fleeting chance to make peace from a position of power' but, unlike de Klerk, 'they dug in their heels, refusing to make the painful concessions necessary'.

Such rewriting of history should not be allowed to go unchecked. In the early 1990s, Israel embraced the opportunity opened up by the Oslo peace process; Israel's prime minister shook hands with Israel's hitherto deadly enemy, Yasser Arafat, almost as soon as Arafat had indicated he no longer insisted on Israel's destruction; and at the culmination of the process at Camp David in 2000 Israel offered Arafat exactly what the international community had always said would bring Israel peace: withdrawal from virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the establishment of a Palestinian state there, and shared sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Arafat's response was not just to reject this offer, but to unleash a wave of terror attacks deliberately aimed at killing and maiming Israeli citizens (the so-called second intifada) perpetrated by Arafat's Fatah as well as by Hamas. In 2005, in another push for peace, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, which included the painful measures of dismantling Jewish settlements and removing the settlers. Again the Palestinian response was not peace, but the election of a Hamas government opposed to any peace with Israel, and rocket attacks from Gaza on towns and villages within Israel's pre-1967 borders, again targeted at civilians.

Malan rightly observes that de Klerk's offer of friendship was 'accepted with a measure of grace'. Israel was not so lucky in the responses to its concessions. …

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