Letters - Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The developed world needs to change priorities from economic growth, an abstract issue only the controlling elite relate to.

By Suzanne Steedman
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 5:00 pm
Economic growth

But we, the 95 per cent, must also take some share of responsibility.

Why protest against oil companies, airlines, palm oil producers, loggers etc. when all they do is provide for our demands?

Perhaps we make these demands because we are brainwashed by the world of commerce.

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What would happen if the UK dropped out of the rich list?

Would the average person notice a difference?

What are we actually looking for in life?

Lots of us travel abroad nowadays and in many destinations the locals are poorer than us, but always seem more content.

Similarly our old folk assure us that people were happier in the good old days when we had less.

Our current way of life involves consumption, which turns the earth’s resources into carbon dioxide and pollutes the world including the low consumers.

Rather than economic growth, we need happiness and wellbeing.

These attributes have been proved not to require financial success.

Excellent thorough research is described in a book, The Spirit Level, which offers study after study proving that equality in society is the key to happiness and well-being, regardless of financial status.

Meanwhile the old economic theory that wealth trickles down has been disproved over recent years and the gap between rich and poor has widened exponentially.

In the UK, the richest 20 per cent have incomes 12 times greater than the poorest 20 per cent.

Are they twelve times happier?

Meanwhile, the richest eight individuals in the world have wealth equal to the poorest four billion who contribute negligibly to the carbon crisis.

Are the mega-rich therefore half a billion times happier?

To summarise, we need to reassess our values, share wealth more evenly, consume less of the world’s diminishing resources and stop chasing after unsustainable economic growth. But those capable of bringing this about have no intention of doing so.

G Shepherd

via email

ENVIRONMENT

Carbon footprint of electric cars

It is crazy to expect that we can replace all our petrol and diesel cars with electric vehicles.

For a start there just isn’t enough cobalt, lithium and nickel to build all the new batteries. The mining of these materials has severe environmental costs and often involves child labour.

Mining companies are considering mining the seabed to extract the required lithium, with huge consequences for sea-life.

Manufacturing all these electric cars will have a huge carbon footprint, one we cannot afford if we are to get to carbon zero in time to save us from climate catastrophe.

The grid will struggle to supply the required electricity for all the electric cars, especially as we need to start decommissioning nuclear power stations, because they are on the coast and are threatened by the rising sea levels.

How can we reduce the number of cars while improving the quality of life for everyone? We need to discourage private vehicles and boost public transport.

Nottingham has made a great start on this. Employers with more than 11 car park spaces pay a levy to the council per parking space. Money raised from this has improved the city’s tram and bus services and been invested in the city centre railway station and in cycle routes. The net effect is less congestion and much improved public transport, so more people choose to leave their car at home.

It means less air pollution and fewer cars parked on crowded streets. People will get more exercise and there will be fewer car accidents, saving the NHS money.

Discouraging commuters from parking in inner-city neighbourhoods by charging or restricting them will have similar effects, bringing relief to residents who currently battle to get a car park space anywhere near their home.

Car pools of electric cars would be available when public transport really can’t do the job.

However, if public transport was top quality and cheap, then most people would opt to use it.

We need massive investment in renewables, including air and ground source heat pumps to replace domestic gas boilers, as well as solar, wind and hydro.

However, there is still a danger of energy shortage, especially as the Government is not taking the necessary actions to promote new renewable energy.

Therefore we need to find a way to ration what energy we use, so those with little income can still heat their homes and those that are rich have to keep an eye on their consumption, as money will not be able to buy them all the energy they want.

Massive investment in insulation is also required.

Now video conferencing is simple, far more people should be able to work at home or at least have much more flexible hours, reducing rush-hour congestion.

‘Walking buses’ should be a common feature of every primary school, reducing the obesity epidemic among the young and helping busy parents who are hurrying to get to and from work.

Graham Wroe

via email