Hard to explain if in climate denial
"DID climate change cause hurricane Sandy?" is the wrong question, according to climate scientists. "Has Sandy been influenced by climate change?" is the right one. William Kininmonth and Bob Carter ("Cometh the storm, cometh the climate lies", Comment, 8/11) choose to ignore this for their own reasons.
Warmer seas, warmer and moister air and sea-level rise make storms likely to be wetter and more intense. Climate scientists have been telling us this for years. While most such storms turn out to sea, Sandy turned inland. There is scientific speculation that the blocking weather pattern that made this happen may be connected to the extreme Arctic ice melt this year. But then the alarming Arctic melt, which hit record lows of ice extent and volume, is tough to explain if you deny that global warming is real, isn't it?
Lynne Holroyd, Hawthorn East
THE denial of a climate change link to the severity of superstorm Sandy by William Kininmonth and Bob Carter needs to be taken with caution given the links of both men to the US Heartland Institute, a pressure group funded by the fossil fuel industry. The atmosphere continues to warm, with each decade hotter than the previous, and 2010 (tied with 2005) the hottest year on record, according to NASA. The oceans, which take up 90 per cent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, are continuing to warm, as data from NASA shows and as the rising sea level due to thermal expansion confirms.
Nobody would dispute the need for infrastructure and urban planning to take account of extreme weather risk. However, to assert that this is all that need be done is foolhardy. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are heavily reduced in the next decade or two, extreme hot weather with associated bushfires will become more frequent and continuing sea-level rise will make events such as Sandy even more destructive.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn
WELL said, Bill Kininmonth and Bob Carter. The concluding statement urging "cost-effective policies of preparation and adaptation for extreme events" is especially apposite for Australia, where we have a long and cyclic history of "droughts and flooding rains" plus bushfires and cyclones. Instead of a carbon tax, which adversely affects export industries, we would be better served by having an efficient tax (increased GST?) raising a similar $25 billion over four years that could be ploughed into water management, and fire and cyclone risk management. And we would be more effective global citizens if we exported such skills via an enhanced foreign aid program rather than pursuing the chimera of climate modification via our goal of a small 5 per cent reduction in emissions.
Michael Asten, Hawthorn
I HAD been fuming over my own small superannuation experience when I came across Peter Costello's article detailing this almighty trick on Australian workers ("Super-sized rip-off for average workers", Comment, 7/11). From a grand total of $832.50 paid into a super fund on my behalf by a former part-time, casual employer, $314.63 was deducted by the fund for entirely unnecessary (and unwanted) "insurance". Further fees and taxes accounted for another $129.16, and as a final insult, the investment return amounted to a minus $13.75.
Being over 60, I was able to close this account and received the princely sum of $369.34.
Why has this scandal been allowed to develop and what is being done to address it?
John Nankervis, Warragul
Rivals the best
AS A director of a successful mutually owned community bank, I take exception to the comments by George Finlay (Letters, 8/11) that there is no competition in the banking sector "which helps keep the others honest". Mr Finlay may not be aware of Australia's mutual banking sector in which more than 4 million Australians obtain cost-effective financial services from credit unions, mutual banks and building societies, where the sole objective is maximising the benefits to customers as both borrowers and depositors.
The competitive service rates provided by the mutual banking sector are well below those of the private banking system and reflect the obligations of the directors of these institutions to serve the interest of both borrowers and lenders while maintaining appropriate prudential standards equivalent to the world's best.
Greg Angelo, Balwyn North
Embrace the talent
IOLA Mathews traces the productive journey the Women's Electoral Lobby has taken ("Big gains, but something still rotten in the state of sexism", Comment, 8/11). But there is still a mountain to be overcome in the boardrooms of corporate Australia. The Australian Institute of Company Directors has been urging progress in this sector. Not for reasons of ideology but simply that the talents of women in this field are considerable. Shareholders miss out when such capable sources of skill are ignored. I have observed that female colleagues bring beneficial precision to the boardroom, be it their professional expertise, focus on customers, strategic skills or interpersonal flair and strength as team players. Corporate Australia needs more female talent in the boardroom.
John Miller, FAICD, Hawthorn
In the bad books
AVIVA Tuffield is right about the value of a literary prize for women ("How to inspire men to read books by women", Comment, 7/11). I suspected nothing about the "unconscious and systemic prejudices" that she writes about until 20 years ago, when my husband referred to the pile at my bedside (e.g. Drabble, Lively, Lessing) as "women's books". You see, until that point I'd only ever thought of them as books. So I did the right thing - I ditched the husband.
Penny Hawe, Lorne
Follow the rules
WHAT a bunch of whingers some motorists have become. They demand the government act to cut the road toll, yet refuse to obey laws designed to do just that. They want the government to fix level-crossings because they are dangerous, yet they drive through them when in operation. They complain about speed cameras being revenue raisers, yet continue to speed. They complain about phones being banned in cars, yet continue to use phones while driving. See the pattern? People have become so wrapped up in themselves they are no longer able to understand the simple concept of cause and effect, and no longer have the ability to accept responsibility for their actions. Heaven forbid anything prevent them doing something they want to do. Who cares about anyone getting hurt? Instead of making excuses, try something different, try obeying the law. You will be amazed at how much safer our roads will become.
Mark Barter, Melbourne
Long road home
THE "Odd Spot" (The Age, 8/11) highlighting the daily 22-kilometre round trip for schoolchildren in Batu Basak puts in perspective the concerns of Victorian parents about their children having to walk a kilometre from the bus stop to school.
Kurt Elder, Port Melbourne
Let suffering end
MY HUSBAND died of brain cancer a year ago. He was a clever man and wanted to die with all his faculties and his family by his bedside. We went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but he died as a four-month-old baby, completely dependent on the nurses in a palliative care centre, over three weeks. He couldn't talk, walk, or in any way convey his thoughts then he refused to eat. It was humiliating for me and his friends to stand by and do nothing. He had terminal brain cancer at 76 years - no hope. Why doesn't the law allow an injection? For me, it was excruciating, every day, to witness death so slowly approaching. A mangy dog or horse would be given relief but not a human being.
June Plate, Bellbrae
Don't call us
A "TINY crowd" greeted our future king at one location, and "hardly more than two dozen" were at another ("Prince and Duchess pursue their causes, and 'Bertie' pursues them", The Age, 8/11) - says it all about the popularity of royalty really. When they next bother to grace our shores, it's quite likely that nobody will bother to show up.
Rob Whiting, Pascoe Vale South
Classy, ain't it?
DES Files (Letters, 8/11) associates "gunna" with lazy speech. It's commonly used by BBC presenters and Tories of Oxbridge background, as was "ain't" by their 18th century ancestors. Class markers aren't (?) what they used to be.
Keith Wiltshire, Carlton