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Letter of the month

Making connections

I always read the Worldwatch and Climatewatch sections that start your excellent magazine with great interest. I also refer back to previous insertions, and it’s this that leads me to suggest that the individual contributions don’t always appear to make a coherent whole. It sometimes gives the impression of isolated experts, each intently putting together part of a jigsaw while unaware of the appearance of the other pieces. A very simple example involves overfishing, declining phytoplankton, burgeoning grey seal numbers, and an increase in seabird populations. Food chains and predator–prey relationships seem to suggest a contradiction.

intently putting together part of a jigsaw while unaware of the appearance of the other

It would be helpful to inexpert but interested ‘lay’ readers such as myself if a team of geographers (possibly looking for a desk study) could do what I have done in a more professional way and provide an overview that would surely enhance the value of your magazine. As a suggestion, recent (and not so recent) offerings on freshwater, that is its movement, sources, sinks and holding zones, could benefit from such analysis. Ron Pursell, Flookburgh, Cumbria

Levy could offer dividends The Dossier by Mark Rowe on carbon trading markets (Playing the market, December 2010) describes the failures to date of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to significantly either raise the price of carbon or reduce carbon dioxide emissions by industry. As well as those failures, the ETS applies only to big polluters, leaving about half of CO2 emissions untouched, including those from transport, agriculture and domestic activity. The alternative of a carbon tax is dismissed as being politically difficult. A major reason for political difficulty is that a significant tax would have an impact on domestic heating, affecting the poor and the ‘fuel poor’.

The latter difficulty can be overcome by paying back every penny raised as a cash dividend to the whole population on an equal-per-head basis. People with large carbon footprints subsidise those with small carbon footprints. All of the poor and nearly all of the fuel poor will be better off. With the poor protected, the tax can be large, for example £100+/tonne of CO2. With an across-the-board carbon tax on the production and import of fossil fuels, the impact on industry is halved, as it applies to 100 per cent of fossil fuel use rather than 50 per cent. There are issues, including those to do with international trade, but these can be addressed in reasonable ways. However, there will of course still be opposition.

As there is no money kept by governments, the tax can be called a levy. Carbon-levy-with-dividend schemes are advocated by, among others, James Hansen, the leading US climate scientist. Compared with the ETS, there should be much less fraud, and administration would be relatively cheap. Carbon levy with dividend is a fair and effective way to reduce CO2 through market forces. Stewart Reddaway, Ashwell, Baldock, Herts

Full set needs home We have in our possession an almost complete set of Geographicals that we would like to dispose of to a good home. Volumes one to 27 are bound, as are a few volumes in the late 1960s; otherwise they are all unbound copies. We are quite happy to give the set away but the proviso is that it would have to be collected from our house in Bedford. Roy Morgan, via email

Anyone interested in taking up Roy’s offer should contact the Geographical editorial office by calling 020 8332 2713 or emailing

Urban outfitting I wonder if your contributors to Essential gear might turn their attention to equipment for places with a slightly higher population density than the Catlin static ice base or central Iceland. Central London for the January sales springs to mind. My wife and I have spent the past ten years in south India and Singapore, and our wardrobe is definitely equatorial. On a late-November expedition to London for some emergency supplies, we were faced with outside temperatures close to 0°C, reduced further by the wind-chill of the canyons around Oxford Street, and internal ones (M&S, Debenhams, HMV) in the mid-20s. Do your experts have advice

Letters to the editor

THE LETTER OF THE MONTH RECEIVES A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE GH MUMM CORDON ROUGE Letters to the editor can be emailed to Please remember to include your full address and contact details. Letters may be edited. Geographical, Circle Publishing, 1 Victoria Villas, Richmond, Surrey TW9 2GW. Telephone: 020 8332 2713 Fax: 020 8332 9307

78 JANUARY 2011

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