Everyone making minor lifestyle changes over the last 30-40 years might have helped but I suspect matters are now rather late (“Tiny changes in our lives might seem trivial. But they are how we save the planet”, Comment). Even if human activities became greenhouse-gas neutral overnight, gas escapes from once-frozen deposits would continue to boost levels, while fires and dying vegetation worsen matters further. Geo-engineering is risky but may soon become necessary.
Some years ago, environmentalists reckoned three to four fully utilised planets would be needed for everyone to have western lifestyles and the jobs to afford them. Add in rising human numbers plus the potential need to rehome climate refugees and this could increase significantly. Yet how are politicians reacting? There have been no signs of petrol rationing, population policies, cutting cash-crop production, grounding flights, curbing consumerism or even a cattle cull. Such changes would need tax hikes and would trigger howls of outrage that governments have no business behaving like that in liberal democracies. Yet liberal democracies may not last long if action isn’t taken. If major global disruption of food supplies occurred, for example, Britain’s naive view that food can always be imported could fail badly. Nobody will want the job or the bill for such changes but the alternatives could be far worse. Iain Climie Whitchurch, Hants
How Welsh are you?
I sing a song of equality
In your feature about Birmingham’s Anderton Park primary school (“‘This is made out to be just about Muslims v gays; it’s not’”, Focus), one interviewee, Saima Razzaq, referred to “white saviours” staging a counter protest outside the school in opposition to the homophobic protests. I was dismayed to read this characterisation of our peaceful act of musical resistance that I initiated a few weeks ago. I asked some friends if they’d join me in singing songs about love and hope at the same time as Shakeel Afsar staged his protest [against the school’s LGBTQ-inclusive teaching]. Five of us turned up, including a member of the Muslim community, me with my guitar.
Because I am directly implicated in the quote, I feel the need to defend my actions. I am gay. I am a parent of a five-year-old. I live in a house 100 metres away from Anderton Park. I care about humans treating each other with respect and love. I don’t enjoy listening to angry shouting.
I wholeheartedly agree that the media is pitting this as the LGBTQ community versus Muslims when the truth is more nuanced and complex. I cannot imagine the distress this whole furore is causing for LGBTQ Muslims such as Ms Razzaq. Ultimately, we want the same thing, I suspect: that schools teach equality to all children. We all have different skills to offer as we try and move towards greater equality. Bringing people together through music and song is mine. Katy Rose Bennett Balsall Heath, Birmingham
The UK’s debt to Afghanistan
Your editorial on the situation in Afghanistan struck the right note (“America has a duty to make sure that democracy does not fail”). What might be worth teasing out is the role and responsibility of the UK: 19 August was the 100th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from us.
Put another way, “we have previous” in this country and have a moral responsibility to show leadership. We should be strong advocates for sustaining the legitimate government and providing all the necessary training, education and support to the still fledgling Afghan national security forces.
We also have a responsibility and care for those like our former interpreters, who, come any eventual peace settlement, will find themselves uncomfortably “in the cold” – still “traitors” to the Taliban and an embarrassment to the new regime. We owe them an incalculable debt of honour and need to be ready to support and protect them; the sacrifices of the campaign demand nothing less. Simon Diggins, defence attache, Kabul 2008-10
Eating disorders and men
Christopher Ecclestone, Nate Crowley and other men speaking out about their eating disorders are to be applauded (“Why shame still stops so many men from getting help”, Focus). I am in my mid-50s and suffered from bulimia in my early 20s and anorexia in my late 40s. My eating disorders were a means of taking back control when faced with the challenges of university finals, my parents’ divorce and my own divorce. I did not seek help for my bulimia, primarily out of shame. It was only when I realised that my anorexia was becoming life-threatening that I sought help.
I am certain that the official NHS statistics for hospital admissions cited in the article mask the scale of the problem. Eating disorders are mental illnesses and I hope that we will see the same acceptance and acknowledgment of their prevalence among men as we are seeing with anxiety, depression and the like. The bravery of the likes of Ecclestone and Crowley certainly helps. Name and address supplied
Violent rhetoric is dangerous
Last week Boris Johnson was reminded of Jo Cox MP, who was murdered at the hand of a far-right extremist after campaigning to remain in the EU. Told about the “death threats and abuse” some female MPs were being subjected to daily, Johnson was asked to moderate his “offensive, dangerous and inflammatory language”, to which he replied: “I have never heard such humbug in all my life.”
In the EU, violence is the most common violation of women’s human rights: one in 10 women has experienced sexual abuse since turning 15; one in 20 has been raped; and each day, seven women are killed by domestic violence.
Colleagues across the European parliament are striving to prevent such abuse through new laws and awareness campaigns. Eradicating violence against women and girls is a priority. To do so, those in positions of power must show that they do not treat violence against any group lightly. Language is important. Violence against women and girls is not humbug. It is a pandemic. We MEPs call on Johnson to make clear that he understands this difference.
Caroline Voaden, Sophie in ‘t Veld, Catherine Bearder, Luisa Porritt, Barbara Gibson, Lucy Nethsingha, Phil Bennion, Jane Brophy, Judith Bunting, Chris Davies, Dinesh Dhamija, Antony Hook, Martin Horwood, Shaffaq Mohammed, Bill Newton Dunn, Sheila Ritchie, Irina Von Wiese, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Karen Melchior, Petras Austrevicius, Nicolae Stefanuta, Klemen Groselj, Claudia Gamon, Anna Donath, Susana Solis Perez, Violeta Bulc, Katalin Cseh, Irene Tolleret, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Samira Rafaela
Stop killings: legalise drugs
Deaths from drug turf wars will continue until we legalise drugs (“How London tourist hotspot became a flashpoint for drug gang killings”, News). Drugs should be treated like cigarettes. They should be legal, they should be taxed, packaging should show graphic health warnings, the strength (and, of course, purity) should be controlled, making them safer, and there should be no advertising. Banning drugs does not stop consumption; it merely hands over a massive business to criminals, making it impossible to tax and impossible to regulate.
Richard Mountford Tonbridge, Kent