Readers’ letters - February 4

In training for the Fourth Reich?

THE questionnaire on parking in Lewes which has just dropped through our doors reveals the impertinent and intrusive mind-set of today’s local government apparatchiks. I doubt that I’m the only recipient to have started diligently ticking the boxes before, with a mixture of annoyance and mirth, throwing it into the bin.

After routine queries about our driving, cycling and walking habits, it devotes no fewer than nine sections to personal matters, most of which have no bearing on the parking scheme whatsoever. Having innocently asked our gender (although we can, coyly, ‘prefer not to say’), the authorities make it clear that they won’t let us pull a fast one: ‘Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth?’

The mind of officialdom clearly finds it impossible that one should simply be born male or female (or possibly a combination of the two), but must be ‘assigned’ the role, presumably by an arm-banded registrar efficiently sorting the sheep from the goats.

There follow questions on ethnicity (13 possibilities) and religion (a disappointingly meagre six), before we are asked to choose from a selection of bisexual/heterosexual/gay man/gay woman/prefer not to say/other.

Interestingly, there is one glaringly omitted question for which one’s religious temperament (Christian forbearance, Buddhist resignation, Dervish excitability, Voodoo pin-sticking) might have been regarded as having some relevance: Do you find the traffic wardens a) helpful, b) chillingly efficient, c) apparently in training for future employment in the Fourth Reich?

David Arscott, Lewes

Global warming: here are the facts

I AM baffled by Brian Beck’s claim in his letter in the January 21 edition that the main sources on global warming (Met Office, NOAA, NASA) have confirmed that there has been no increase in average global temperature for 12 years. I have copied and pasted the following extract from the Met Office website http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/policy-relevant/evidence:

Long-term climate change: The period 2000 to 2009 was warmer than the 1990s that, in turn, were warmer than 1980s. In fact, the average temperature over the first decade of the 21st century was significantly warmer than any preceding decade in the instrumental record, stretching back 160 years.

Despite variability from year to year, which sees some years warmer and others cooler, we have identified a clear underlying trend of increasing global temperatures from the late 1970s of about 0.16 degrees C per decade.

Other indicators of a warming world: Although we normally use temperature at the surface of the Earth as the primary indicator of climate change, there are other key observations that add to the evidence of a warming world.

We have compiled evidence from more than 20 institutions across the world as well as diverse sources from high in the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean. We’ve found changes in a number of indicators that are consistent with the warming world: A discernible increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea; increases in water temperature at the sea surface down to hundreds of metres below the surface; an increase in humidity as a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture; increases in sea-level as warmer waters expand and land-based ice melts; shrinking of Arctic sea-ice, glaciers and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover.

The NASA website endorses this, see http://climate.nasa.gov/: ‘In 2010, global temperatures continued to rise. A new analysis from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, and was part of the warmest decade on record.’

Also NOAA, see http://www.noaa.gov/climate/html: ‘The year 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62 degrees C (1.12 degrees F) above the 20th century average.

Should Mr Beck be given quite so much space in the Sussex Express?

Tessa George, Lewes

Saddened at news of opera singer

I AM saddened to hear of the passing of popular Lewes opera singer (John Fryatt) (Express, January 21, page 9). I remember John from his days in the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company from the old company (closed 1981/2 due to lack of Arts Council funding). I first saw D’Oyly Carte in the Adelphi Theatre, London, in their final season. I send all his family, friends and D’Oyly Carte colleagues my deepest sympathy and condolences on losing yet again another well known face of a piece of our theatrical and operatic heritage. RIP John.

James Booth, Lewes

I was there when bomb dropped

I WAS very interested to read what Mr John Christmas wrote about the bomb dropped in St Martins Lane. Whenever they talk about the day Lewes was bombed they have never mentioned St Martins Lane.

I was 10 years old at the time and lived at No 6 St Martins Lane. My mother was at the back door calling our dog in when she saw the plane and the bomb drop. She said it seemed to hit a shed roof and bounced to the bottom of the lane where it exploded.

We all had to go to the Foresters Hall to be boarded out as our house was not safe to stay in and we never went back to it. We all remember Mrs Digweed – she used to get myself and sister and brother to go shopping for her.

Mrs Mavis Lee, Lewes