How rationing could save the world Letters

It worked during the war, so why shouldn’t the ‘all in it together’ approach work to combat the climate crisis?

It was great to see Sonia Sodha highlighting the potential unfairness of carbon taxes and promoting the possibility of rationing as an alternative policy to combat climate change (“Sin taxes on meat or flying won’t change a climate hypocrite like me. Rationing might ”, Comment). In relation to what Sodha calls climate hypocrisy, it is worth noting that, according to a wartime Home Intelligence report from May 1942, the British public showed “a complete and expressed unwillingness to make voluntary sacrifices, but an apparent readiness to face compulsory sacrifices without undue grumbling”. However, Sodha suggests that we modernise rationing, introducing a market and allocating “polluting credits” allowing people to buy and sell rations. But would this be an improvement? Arguably, the rejection of markets, and a commitment to fair shares, is precisely what made rationing attractive to the general public in the 1940s. A report from 1941 stated: “As long as people believe that all classes and sections are suffering and enduring equally, they will put up with very great hardship. It is ‘unfairness’ that people resent.”Either way, Sodha’s suggestion that rationing would be better than a carbon tax is supported by the historian Mark Roodhouse, who argued that rationing would be more effective than a carbon tax if a government needed “to reduce carbon emissions quickly and dramatically”. Rob LawlorLeeds

Poor nations need nurses too

Michael Savage has only considered the UK’s need for additional nurses, not whether poorer countries can afford to lose their nurses (“Plan to hire thousands of foreign nurses for NHS is axed ”, News). I lived and worked in South Africa, mainly in townships, and was shocked the first time I saw a full page ad from a private British medical recruitment company for doctors and nurses to work in the NHS.
The vast majority of the white population in South Africa have medical insurance and are treated in state-of-the-art hospitals. The vast majority of non-white people live in townships and only the largest townships have a public hospital that does not demand money up front. The difference in medical treatment can be summed up by the fact that one private hospital in Johannesburg has more gynaecologists than the whole of the province of Limpopo. The depressing truth is that the UK does not train enough nurses or doctors and expects poorer countries to do the training for it.Michael GoldRomford, Essex

Approximately 20-30% of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5oC.

Politicians and ‘the truth’

I understand Kenan Malik writing of the risks if the law were to be the judge of the lies of canvassing politicians (“Democracy is the victim if the law starts to police politics ”, Comment). But when is a lie not a lie? Only after a politician is elected? At some time, the law might be all we have. In an era when politicians have subdued our public broadcaster and we are alarmed at the dishonesty of overseas elected leaders, should we not be more careful about politicians here subverting their democratic licence?William SteeleBishop’s Stortford, Herts

More PE is essential

“Austerity” in the form of cuts in school budgets and to the school sports partnerships programme may have contributed to the reduction in the time pupils spend in PE (“Austerity cuts are blamed for 130,000 preventable deaths ”, News). The evidence suggests, however, that by far the most significant cause is the increased pressure on schools to produce good exam results in the core subjects.

Even in the more limited time that students are in PE lessons, there is a growing tendency to pull them out for extra tuition in core subjects. At a time when, due to their excessive use of electronic devices, young people lead a more sedentary lifestyle and childhood obesity is on the rise, it is a national disgrace that young people’s opportunity for physical activity at school has been so severely cut back. Chris PrattAdel, Leeds

When history became history

In his perceptive article on the historical amnesia that is creating a Britain that is an “unreal land of distorted memories”, David Olusoga refers to the “fog of historical amnesia” that hangs heavily over postwar history (“Britain can’t be reborn while we’re still lost in fantasies about the past ”, Comment). However, it has to be said that planned ignorance of British history, including recent history, has also played a key role in producing so many amnesiacs and part of the blame for this lies at the door of Kenneth Clarke MP. When Clarke was secretary of state for education and science from 1990-1992, the National Curriculum Council history task group was trying to slim down the content of the curriculum. Clarke decided to make history optional beyond the age of 14 and to rule out the study of events in the previous 20 years from the history curriculum. He was doing the country no favours by building ignorance of history into the education system, for it has helped to form the fantasy view of British history that sustains the case for Brexit.David HeadPeterborough

My explosive wartime birth

Unlike Richard Norton-Taylor, I was not born on D-day but 20 days later, my arrival precipitated by Mother’s shock at a V-1 flying bomb explosion in the grounds of her Croydon maternity hospital, which brought the ceiling down on her bed (“I was a D-day baby but at least I wasn’t called Dwight ”, Comment). Six weeks later, she saved our lives by upending my pram in the porchway of a house as a Messerschmitt 109 pilot began strafing us. All this was happening while her husband was away serving in the RAF.David J SavageSouth Ockendon, Essex

Unfair visa system is wrong

The UK government’s biased immigration policy is undermining “global Britain’s” reputation and efforts to tackle challenges including climate breakdown, poverty, disease outbreaks and conflict. As leaders of organisations, institutions and programmes that are striving to strengthen the UK’s position as a science, research and development world leader, we continue to be extremely concerned that growing numbers of African partners are being refused entry to the UK. A recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Africa highlighted that the number of UK visa refusals for nationals of African countries is twice the rate of those from any other part of the world.

CLIMATE CHANGE FACT: There is no scientific debate about the reality of climate change. Multiple studies show that a massive 97 per cent of researchers believe global warming is happening and that they agree that trends observed over the last past century are probably due to human activity. But climate change is considered only the third most serious issue facing the world by the world's population, behind international terrorism and poverty, hunger and the lack of drinking water, according to YouGov research.

The UK Government International Research and Innovation Strategy states: “The importance of global co-operation to find solutions and to drive our long-term prosperity has never been greater.” TThis co-operation must extend to all countries and regions. It is vital to delivering life-saving work such as helping to bring an end to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to ensuring that taxpayers’ money makes a tangible difference and to promoting the UK as a venue for cutting-edge global debates. We must have a fair and equitable visa system that promotes and protects the essential collaborations that mean we can tackle today’s global challenges as well as the unknown challenges of the future.Professor Melissa Leach, director, Institute of Development StudiesProfessor Christopher Adam, head of International Development, University of OxfordProfessor Tim Allen AcSS, director, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa, London School of EconomicsProfessor Ash Amin CBE FBA, foreign secretary & vice-president, the British Academy Professor Henrice Altink, professor of Modern History and co-director of Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre, University of York Michael Anderson, board of trustees, Institute of Development Studies Dr Aicha Belkadi, SOAS, University of London Professor Dan Brockington, director, the Sheffield Institute for International Development Professor Laura Camfield, head of the School of International Development, University of East Anglia Dr Ha-Joon Chang, director, Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge Professor Andrea Cornwall, pro-director (Research & Enterprise), SOAS, University of London Professor Christopher Cramer, SOAS, University of London and vice-chair, Royal Africa Society Professor Emma Crewe, SOAS, University of London Professor Julio D Dávila, director, the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL Stephanie Draper, chief executive, BOND Dr Jonathan Ercanbrack, chair, Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, SOAS, University of London Professor James Fairhead FBA, University of Sussex Professor Susan Fairley Murray, head of department of International Development, King’s College London John Faulkner, SOAS, University of London Professor John Gaventa, director, Action for Empowerment and Accountability programme Dr Duncan Green, professor in practice, Department of International Development, London School of Economics Professor Laura Hammond, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London Professor Elizabeth Harrison, head of the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex Professor David Hulme, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester Dr Feyzi Ismail, SOAS, University of London Dr Mike Jennings, head of the Department of Development Studies at SOAS, University of London Professor Roger Kain CBE FBA, vice-president (research and higher education policy), the British Academy Professor Paul Kerswill FBA, department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York Professor Jonathan Kydd, chair of the board of trustees, Institute of Development Studies
Professor David Lalloo, director and professor of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine Professor Matthew Leach, urban living research theme champion, University of Surrey Dr Jens Lerche, SOAS, University of London Dr David Lunn, research associate & senior teaching fellow, SOAS, University of London Prof Friederike Lüpke, SOAS, University of London Professor Rob Marchant, Department of Environment and Geography, University of York Dr Soe Tjen Marching, SOAS, University of London Professor Heather Marquette, International Development Department, University of Birmingham Zoe Marriage, SOAS, University of London Simon Maxwell CBE Professor Diana Mitlin, managing director, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester Professor Giles Mohan, chair of International Development, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, the Open University Professor Mick Moore, chief executive officer, International Centre for Tax and Development Dr Andrew Newsham, SOAS, University of London

Malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition are diseases are water borne diseases that have caused more than three million deaths since 2005, one third of these deaths are in Africa.

Andrew Norton, director, International Institute for Environment and Development Professor Paul Nugent, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh Professor Fiona Nunan, head, International Development Department, University of Birmingham Dr Lutz Oette, director, Centre for Human Rights Law, SOAS, University of London Dr Sara Pantuliano, acting executive director, Overseas Development Institute Professor Melissa Parker, Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Dr Barbara Pizziconi, SOAS, University of London Professor Nigel Poole, SOAS, University of London Professor Timothy J Power, head of school, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies Professor David Pratten, African Studies Centre, University of Oxford Dr Tim Pringle, senior lecturer, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London Ben Radley, teaching fellow, International Development, Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath Professor Pauline Rose, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge Professor Ian Scoones, co-director ESRC STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex Professor Ken Shadlen, head of department, International Development, London School of Economics Professor Julia C Strauss, SOAS, University of London Professor John Thompson, director, Agricultural Policy Research in Africa Dr Joanne Tomkinson, SOAS, University of London Professor Charles Tripp FBA, vice-president (British International Research Institutes), the British Academy Oliver Walton, lecturer in international development, University of Bath

Dr E Van Waeyenberge, SOAS, University of London

Professor Sarah C White, president, Development Studies Association and University of Bath Professor Mark Zeitoun, University of East Anglia Water Security Research Centre

I’m driven to distraction

What a lovely idea: an electric car (Wheels , Magazine). And one that costs only 4.8p a mile to run. But hang on, it costs how much? £58,500. By what magical reckoning does it cost only 4.8 per mile? Oh, I see, you’ve omitted the cost of the vehicle and its likely depreciation from your calculations. Fair enough.Aidan GoodmanWingham, Kent