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Climate crossroads must not be ignored

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Martin Pawley's advocacy of laissezfaire policy on the environment is reminiscent of the junkie who, while shooting up, comforts himself with the reflection that we have all got to die some time. Pawley was the keynote speaker at an Audacity. org conference at the Building Centre on 10 July. Audacity. org is one of several front organisations set up by the Institute of Ideas (an off-shoot of the former Living Marxism), which follows the line that environmentalists are not radicals but doommongers and a risk to progress. They are proGM, pro-road-building, pro-planning deregulation and - ironically in view of their provenance - in favour of unfettered capitalism. Pawley should come clean and tell your readership whether he is a member of, or affiliated to, the Institute of Ideas.

There are a number of pretty good working definitions of sustainable development, which are satisfactory guidance for those of us who accept the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that we are at a crossroads beyond which the failure to change direction will result in a major catastrophe, which will make the floods and famines of recent years seem minor incidents. The one I currently prefer reads: 'Sustainable development improves people's quality of life within the carrying capacity of the Earth's life support system.'

Pawley appears not to recognise the urgent imperative to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, to switch to renewables, to reduce production of non-degradable refuse or to conserve water.What planet does this man live on? Certainly with a few more of his way of thinking this one will soon be uninhabitable.

Kate Macintosh, Finch Macintosh Architects, Winchester, Hampshire

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