Steam and smoke
Re: your striking image of a coal-fired power station in your edition on Air pollution (NI 525). Surely you should be aware that cooling towers emit only steam (as they are cooling waste steam to recycle in the process) and not smoke. The steam may alter the local micro-climate around the plant but is in no way a source of the airborne pollutants that the article is rightly challenging. It is the smoke from chimneys behind the cooling towers that are the source of the pollutants in this image.
The man, the myth
I read your Cartoon History of Simón Bolívar (NI 525) with incredulity. Have you bought the myth of Bolívar the ‘Liberator’? Certainly he was an extraordinary man with exceptional talents. But what he achieved was the transfer of power from one group of white colonialists to another group of white colonialists. I searched through the feature for some recognition of the rights of the indigenous people, but all I found was a passing reference to their enslavement under the encomienda system.
I do hope Danny Dorling is right that population growth is slowing down (Long Read, NI 525). I only wish it was reversing. As far as I am concerned, however, he is totally wrong in his assumptions about why population growth is so worrying. What distresses me is what is happening to all the other life forms on this planet that we are rapidly extinguishing, whether directly or by destruction of their habitats and food sources. We take and take, and the more of us there are, the less room we leave for anything else.
I have enjoyed reading NI since the mid-1970s – nearly as long as the magazine has existed! – and I still enjoy every issue. I’m disappointed, though, that in your Seriously about the UNWomen society’s revocation of the invitation to Amber Rudd to speak at an International Women’s Day event (NI 525), you appear to support the decision. There is no doubt that Ms Rudd’s former department has behaved disgracefully in its treatment of the Windrush generation and Ms Rudd herself misled Parliament over the deportation programme. All the more reason to give students the opportunity to challenge the former minister to justify what happened. Universities are supposed to be places where this sort of robust discussion takes place and students and their guests both learn from the experience. What is the point of shielding young people from hearing things they might disagree with?
I also disagree with Oxford University’s decision to disband the society, if this incident was the sole reason for that action.
Climate of denial
Alasdair Livingston (Letters, NI 525) perpetuates the false claim that environmentalists somehow were able to prevent fuel reduction burns in the lead-up to last summer’s catastrophic bushfires. This notion has been repeatedly refuted by the people who would know: the fire chiefs.
The fact is that there were not enough days during the cooler months when it was safe to carry out these burns. A direct result of a hotter, dryer climate.
These same fire chiefs foresaw the coming disaster and sought a meeting with the Prime Minister in the months before. It never happened.
It has been said that there are no climate-change deniers on the end of a fire hose. But plenty of denial by members of the Australian government and their corporate backers in the fossil-fuel industry and Murdoch media.
I was a bit bemused by this detail in ‘Young climate heroes’ (NI 524): ‘In the Montreal Greenpeace office, surrounded by crisps and fizzy drinks…’. Having thought about it, doesn’t this go against a few things climate activists stand for? 1) Health – fighting for cleaner air to breathe, etc. These items aren’t very good for you. 2) Surely these snacks are packaged in single-use plastic? 3) They are more than likely made by big corporate polluting companies that put profit before anything else. I would have thought a piece of fruit and glass of water would be more appropriate?
...use Ecosia as my search engine.
A few years ago I discovered Ecosia. It’s a search engine every bit as good as Google but it uses the profits it makes to plant trees. In the last 10 years it has planted almost 100 million on 9,000 sites at a cost of over $1.2 million. There are 15 million users and over 100 of those trees were ‘planted’ by me!
Ecosia states that it uses 100-per-cent renewable energy, does not sell our data to commercial organizations and has no embedded trackers. I have found it trustworthy and useful.