Letters to the editor | Edited August 14, 2021

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Letters are welcome by email to [email protected]

Dealing with risk

Your attempt to shed light on who refuses vaccines led to the negative conclusion that one way to increase vaccine acceptance is to focus on “disseminating information to the uneducated” (“Hesitancy in numbers” , July 31). Research into the psychology of risk perception by Paul Slovic and others has shown that how we perceive and react to potential danger is far more important to how we feel about the reality than the truth alone. So the first step in addressing vaccine refusal is not just knowing who is refusing a vaccine based on shallow demographics, but why.

Since the modern era of vaccination there has always been a hesitancy to the vaccine, a worse way of worrying about vaccines, or a complete refusal against vaccination. Some refuse because people are generally more cautious about threats when we don’t trust the source of the threat. Many refuse because in most cases we are more cautious about anything artificial than natural. And regardless of which political movements you name, the most determined opposition to vaccination has ever come from those who, like most of us to some degree, are more wary of risk when it is imposed on us.

Carefully designed risk communication campaigns designed to build trust by showing understanding and respect for people’s feelings have been shown to moderate vaccine hesitancy in many cases. But only social and legal sanctions against the most determined vaccine refusers, imposed in the name of the common good, have had any real effect on that group.

Retired instructor in risk communication at Harvard
Concord, Massachusetts

War in the future

For an interesting look at the potential of artificial intelligence to develop a war strategy (“Computer says go”, July 3), I recommend “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein. The novel describes how a sentient computer develops the military tactics needed for a lunar colony to gain independence.

Dunellen, New Jersey

A global challenge

The erroneous assumption that adaptation to climate change is mostly a domestic affair serving domestic interests was exposed in your recent editorial (“No safe place”, July 24). Just like a virus, climate risk can easily cross borders through international trade and supply chains, capital flows, human movement and natural resources shared between countries, both regionally and globally. Likewise, actions to adapt to climate change can have impacts far beyond the jurisdiction of the country implementing them.

A recent study conducted by INFRA, a Swiss consulting firm, for the German Environment Agency valued the economic risk from climate-induced disruption in German trade alone as greater than the combined economic risk from the direct effects of climate change within the national borders of Germany. In Senegal in 2008, the price of rice tripled following a chain reaction that began when India suspended grain exports in response to poor harvest forecasts during a drought. This caused riots in the streets of Dakar.

Such cross-border links show that change is indeed a global challenge. Current approaches to adaptation planning, based on local or national risk assessments, fall short of what is needed to effectively manage climate risk in our interconnected world. Worse, one country’s adaptation efforts could redistribute climate risk to another, rather than reduce the risk altogether.

Governments and companies should therefore adopt a transboundary rather than a domestic perspective on climate risk to address the scope and nature of change, creating opportunities for international cooperation, and paving the way for towards lasting global stability.

Stockholm Environment Institute
Bonn, Germany

Variation of solar radiation (SRM), also known as solar geoengineering, presents a dilemma at stake: would the world be better off with or without it? There are already divisions over whether it should even be studied, let alone used or not. While the upcoming sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to provide useful new information, and may begin to answer some of these questions, many more need to be addressed. to answer before decisions can be made whether or not. SRM should be part of any climate response strategy.

SRM it is not a discount place. At best, it could contribute to efforts while cooling the planet for a short period of time, and possibly stop the planet’s tipping points. But the longer the world delays the major concession that is needed, the more likely it will be against this terrifying decision.

Changing solar radiation would be the most universal human endeavor if he ever decided to do so. The United Nations is the only truly global organization where governments can deal with issues that cut across traditional divisions and national boundaries including the potential benefits and risks. , as well as the management challenges that come with it SRM. The earlier this happens, the more likely the world will be to avoid potentially dangerous consequences.

Executive Director
Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General on Climate Change

Giving credit

“The funding frenzy” (July 17) mentioned how fintech companies are “replenishment” by adding new products as a key feature of their investment. It is certainly clear that despite accumulating large user bases, many fintech startups have found it a challenge to turn a profit and are turning to crowdfunding to solve this problem . With these additional services comes increased engagement and stronger customer loyalty.

Lending will be important in this recurring activity, with the potential source of profit for fintechs as they mature. Despite the success stories from Western markets, the real innovation will be here in places like India and Latin America. Access to credit is often fragmented, leaving many consumers unprotected and markets ripe for innovation and opportunity.

Investors would do well to remember this when considering where to place their next big bet.

Global leader M&A and investments
Hong Kong

Drinking alcohol

In terms of innovations in non-alcoholic beer (“Buzzkill”, July 10), in 1988 Brooks Firestone and Hale Fletcher brought alcohol-free beer to market. It was brewed without alcohol, so there was no need to remove it and the taste. It was a hit. Unfortunately, the big brewers, looking for a PR Hello by promoting responsible drinking, they used their primary power to squeeze them out of the market, but the cat was out of the bag, and the market for tasty non-alcoholic beer grew strong Adam Firestone, son of Brooks, and David Walker used the Firestone equipment to produce the first of their craft brews under the Firestone-Walker label, which is celebrating 25 years of success.

Santa Barbara

What on earth is a pub without alcohol (“Linoadh nan craics”, July 31)? Why did you spend a night drinking there? If you are teetotal then it seems to me that sitting in a place that looks like an establishment where people drink alcohol is unnecessary.


How to count the water

Dear Belgian reader, referring to the undoubted attractions of his country, unfortunately perpetuated a long-standing but erroneous myth about Ireland’s wet climate (Letters, July 17). He said that Ireland has 225 rainy days a year, compared to 199 in Belgium. However, the 225-day figure only applies to the damp west coast of Ireland which faces the Atlantic Ocean. The total figure for the rest of the country is much lower and in Dublin it is only 155 days a year (in Berlin it is 167). Rainfall in Ireland also tends to be what we call soft; it may rain all day but the total amount of rain is very small.

Amongst some of the many Belgians who were drawn to the sometimes chaotic but very easy, albeit drizzly, lifestyle of Ireland was a chef from Ypres called Zenon Geldof. You may have heard of his grandson, Bob, whose middle name is also Zenon.

Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

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