All that air travel? It’s time for an honest conversation

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People who point out the hypocrisy of flying thousands of people to the COP conference aiming to reduce emissions (“COP is all hot air, technology and the markets are solving the climate crisis”, 10/12) do not really care about reducing emissions. But they do have a valid point. Air travel worldwide is a major contributor to carbon emissions. It is also almost exclusively undertaken by that small proportion of the global population that is extremely affluent. The largest proportion of it is also non-essential travel.
If the COP conference is looking for a source of funds, a worldwide levy on fuel for passenger transport by air is an excellent candidate. This would be paid by those who could most afford it and are directly contributing to the problem. The money raised could then be directed to climate relief in the poorest nations, or as part recompense to poorer nations such as Ecuador that are doing the right thing.
Daryl Budgeon, Hadfield

Nuclear option
This year, 2023, is set to be the hottest year on record. But renewables are growing too slowly to ensure Australia meets its long-term emissions reduction goals. While our governments are doing their best, there now appear to be grave doubts that renewables alone can deliver net zero, allowing Australia to meet its moral obligation to match the efforts the rest of the world is making. Government intervention in the energy market does not appear to be enough. Providing a competitor for renewables now seems necessary.
Lifting the ban on nuclear power will not be a distraction that impedes the growth of renewables. Rather, it will provide a competitive impetus to the renewables industry to grow its share of electricity supply (“Relying on nuclear power would be a costly mistake”, Letters, 12/12). And if investors in renewables did not respond to nuclear competition for market share, lifting the ban will open the way for the development of nuclear power by the mid- to late-2030s, allowing sufficient time to permit nuclear power to help reduce Australia’s emissions to net zero by 2050.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills

A long cost
Fission reactors will be operational for maybe 60 years. The half life of the nuclear fuel U-235 is 700 million years, and U-238 is 4.5billion years. When you consider the cost of storage for the times, it is prohibitive. Where will we store the spent fuel? May I suggest Peter Dutton and other proponents’ backyards, with their descendants covering the cost. Why are we even thinking about nuclear submarines?
David Stewart, Rosebud

Back to yesteryear
The Coalition’s recently elaborated nuclear ambitions have a parallel with their approach to the national broadband network. The initial NBN was based around the new developing technology of fibre. The Coalition in their ideology-based wisdom sent it back to yesteryear with their mixed old technology. The minute they did this the NBN was doomed to become an overpriced service, struggling to remain competitive with technologies such as Starlink. Will they ever change from stubbornly preferring ideology to research and facts?
Peter Dulmanis, Spring Gully

Fossil fuel partnership
I’m bitterly disappointed that my beloved Carlton Football Club has signed a three-year “platinum partnership” deal with a fossil fuel giant. To allow our club to be used for sportswashing like this is a tragedy. Announced during the COP meetings as well. Unbelievable.
You’ve lost me as a member, and no doubt thousands of young people as supporters. If our guernseys and everything at Carlton is going to be plastered in fuel company logos, then I will turn my back on the club until the deal expires. I’ve been a Carlton supporter since 1970, so I’ve been through a lot with my beloved Blues – some very good and some very bad. But this is the worst thing yet.
Brad Barber, Halls Head, WA


An education
I enjoyed Daniel Cash’s comments from his year 12 perspective (“Cynicism often trumps curiosity in the VCE”, 12/12), highlighting the difference between education and learning. To me, education is a lifelong experience; along the way, we may be lucky enough to be offered opportunities to learn. The richness of our education will depend on how we make use of those opportunities. Our personal development needs more room for creative inquiry and less emphasis on scores, even though that can take a lifetime to be realised. Cash’s comments indicate the current VCE cohort may be heading in the right direction.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

The game
Thank you, Daniel Cash. I recently explained this VCE “game” to my 12-year-old son. I also added that private schools game the system best, so if he wants high marks, go there. But if he wants true learning, then he should follow his interests and enjoy the process. I hope Cash undertakes an arts humanities degree.
Caroline Morgan, Mordialloc

Life of learning
It looks like Daniel Cash is heading, eventually, from captain of school at Melbourne Grammar School to professor of education at Melbourne University.
Bill Pell, Emerald

Results oriented
Princes Hill dux Kelso Wentworth must be one of the lucky few. He says “all my teachers inspired me to do well because they had a real interest in their subject – it wasn’t so much about scores or competition” (“As it happened VCE results 2023: Victorian Year 12 students receive results” 11/12). The principal of my local high school started the “Congratulations to our VCE Students” post with “Dear staff, students and families, today we celebrate the excellent results of our year 11 and year 12 students in the end-of-year VCE exams, and the very high ATARs our year 12 students have achieved.” He then spent four paragraphs on who got the top three scores for the school and how many students got over 80, 90 and 95. It is hard to square this with his final wrap: “We know that our wonderful students at RHS are not defined by their results, and we want to celebrate the learning and growth that they have all achieved as students at our school.”
My real gripe is that this is the norm for almost every school.
Clodette Currie, Hawthorn

Not so surprising
It’s no surprise that overfunded private schools, which only accept the best and brightest, get good ATARs. More worthy congratulations ought to go to every state school student for their achievements in this dystopian government-sanctioned farce.
Bill Burns, Bendigo

We’re all equal
Millie Muroi (“A puppy opened my eyes to rough sleepers”, 12/12) has done what many do not do when faced with a homeless person. She saw them as an equal. As she writes, the causes of homelessness are complex yet too often the dictum, “They’ve only themselves to blame”, is what dominates public impression, should one cast an eye over the unfortunate, that is. And despite the number of rough sleepers rising, anti-homeless architecture continues to be erected in major cities while the homeless and even Big Issue vendors outside supermarkets and along high streets are being asked to move on because they are not in keeping with the desired clientele.
Anders Ross, Heidelberg

Shortcut to congestion
The reported gridlock relating to Sydney’s WestConnex Rozelle Interchange, in which congestion is worse outside Transurban’s tolled sections, is a lesson for Melbourne. Expect similar with the opening of Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel at entry and exits points, and added city congestion. Cities the size of Sydney and Melbourne cannot alleviate congestion by building more freeways – this only shifts congestion.
Jackie Fristacky, Carlton North

Divisive battle
Jim Chalmers’ increased penalties for non-Australians purchasing property (“Foreign buyers face fee hike on vacant homes”, 10/12) will do nothing to increase the supply of available housing; this move is a precursor to how the next election will be fought. Peter Dutton is already going hard on immigration and other divisive issues.
Ian Hetherington, Moama

Real doctors
The Podiatry Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency are reviewing whether there needs to be “greater protection of the titles doctor and surgeon” to avoid confusion (“Insurers baulk at surgeon’ tag”, 11/12). It is interesting that many physicians claim they are the only real doctors and other professionals have taken over the title. In fact, the title of doctor was originally reserved for students who completed novel and independent postgraduate research and obtained a PhD. Physicians decided to monopolise the title doctor 150 years ago and many now act as though the title always belonged to them. Most physicians only have an undergraduate degree or a second undergraduate degree, unlike PhD graduates. If physicians want to avoid confusion, maybe they should give up the title of doctor and give it back to the PhD graduates.
Nicole Holding, Boronia

Give me 99 reasons
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, has invoked Article 99 (effectively against Israel) because, in his opinion, the war in the Middle East poses a “threat to the maintenance of international peace and security” (“‘Humanitarian nightmare’: US vetoes UN resolution demanding ceasefire in Gaza”, 9/12). It appears that Guterres and the UN consider this (defensive) war between democratic Israel and Hamas – a group of savage terrorists whose charter calls for the complete erasure of Israel – a greater risk to world peace than the Russian invasion of, and subsequent war against, Ukraine, with Russia periodically threatening the world with the use of nuclear weapons, which would have catastrophic effects of apocalyptic proportions for Europe and the world.
Linda de Carvalho, Malvern

Blind follower
The US government recently bypassed Congress in order to send 14,000 tank shells to Israel. This is in addition to the $US3.8 billion already allocated to Israel for military action in the 2023 fiscal year. It also recently used its power to block another UN Security Council attempt to demand a ceasefire in Gaza, the only country to do so.
Also recently, the UNRWA estimated that at least half the population of Gaza is starving. People lack every necessity for maintaining life, including food, water, space, sanitation, fuel, and medical and emergency services. Unless there is a miracle change of heart, the US is highly unlikely to lead any decision supporting a complete and urgent ceasefire, and a lasting resolution to the future of the occupied Palestinian Territory. Without such a turnaround by the US, an urgent humanitarian response, given the out-of-control politics of the issue, will be that much harder to achieve.
For most of my lifetime, Australia has followed the US into a number of inglorious wars that had no discernible benefit for us, but lead to incalculable destruction for the invaded countries. We should not continue to follow the US in its mindless support for horrific actions that could lead to the total obliteration of Palestine.
Jill Dixon, Northcote

Keep it green
What a great opportunity to turn the former Yarra Valley Country Club golf course into an extension of public parkland along the Yarra River from the Heide Gallery through to Westerfolds Park in Templestowe (“Pleas for a ruling on ex-golf course project”, 5/12). This area forms part of an almost unbroken stretch of parks from Bulleen to North Warrandyte.
The land should be acquired by the state and not turned into housing. A glance at a map will show that any proposed subdivision for housing will blight the landscape and would be the only large-scale housing project in the entire linear park along the Yarra from Kew. Manningham Councillor Stephen Mayne wants the project application thrown out but appears to concede that it would have been supported by council if the developer had agreed to include 5 per cent affordable housing. Fortunately, the land is flood prone and has cultural, heritage and landscape values – all not assisting the developer’s proposal. This land was once green-belt but the mistakes of the past do not need to be repeated.
John Young, Blackburn North

Danger of breaking glass
Your picture on the letters page (12/12) of a bank of solar panels raises the question of preemptively protecting panels, in their wide range of placements, from severe hail storms with wire mesh. Will solar panels have the durability needed to withstand extreme weather events?
Des Files, Brunswick

Bold suggestion
I notice that, in the daily CBD columns of The Age, people’s names are routinely put in bold typescript. Why can this not be done in other articles as a matter of course? In longer articles, it makes it so much easier to follow who said what.
Alan Whitcombe, Stony Creek

Beautiful letters
At this year’s end, presumably, you may announce the letter of the year 2023, and its writer. As I do not hanker for such an award, it would be a false gesture to include me in any shortlist. Vanity publishing is its own reward, even if only one letter surfaces. Rename the accolade as: The Unknown Belle Lettrist. One who tried, tripped, stumbled, but never lost their balance, to fall into The Age’s pages. Give it to those MIA, to encourage future efforts.
Mike Fogarty, Weston ACT


A scholarship of $6500 a year for four years is “life changing” for a star VCE student whose parents have little money, while Kerry Stokes provides multimillion-dollar backing for Ben Roberts-Smith’s lawsuit. The Age’s front page (12/2) says much about our society’s priorities.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Climate activism
Let’s not say we care about climate change but leave any action to others and complain when it doesn’t suit us (Letters, 12/12). We are all responsible for changing our habits, which may mean using public transport or at least turning off an idling engine.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

COP-out 28.
Michael Gonzales, Hawthorn East

I cannot understand how people can justify and approve of the bombing of a city with a population the size of Brisbane, utterly destroying it when so many of the people in it are defenceless.
Owen Rye, Boolarra South

The Housing Industry Association and its members who oppose a ban on engineered stone can keep it, as long as they cut it themselves.
John Rawson, Mernda

How can the state government complain that lower migration will hamper our economy when infrastructure is inadequate for the present population?
Helen Pereira, Heidelberg Heights

Is it my imagination, but it seems that all the things that were once said to be good for the economy, are now said to be bad for inflation?
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

Annastacia Palaszczuk “came from very humble beginnings” (Letters, 12/12)? She also took over her dad’s “safe Labor” seat when he retired. A log cabin story for a nepo baby.
Allison Stanley, Preston

If Wendy Syfret (“Paradise found where it all started”, 12/12) had lived a few kilometres east during her teenage years she might have claimed allegiance to that great, memorably named pub band Glen Waverley and the Mentones.
Russell Harrison, Sandringham

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To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected]. Please include your home address and telephone number below your letter. No attachments. See here for our rules and tips on getting your letter published.

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