And in early April this year, environmental activist Greta Thunberg – who made her feelings crystal clear in her impassioned ''How dare you'' speech to hundreds of world leaders at the United Nations in New York City in September 2020, telling them, ''their empty words and lack of action were a disgrace” – said she isn't planning on going to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November as she was concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on attendance. Given the pandemic globally is far from over, well she might be.
Given Lovelock’s and Thunberg's remarks, and that an estimated 30,000 delegates from all around the world will attend COP26 (hardly a treading lightly on the planet event) many of whom will be the very same heads of state, religious leaders, climate experts and campaigners (some even arriving in private jets,) whom Greta has already railed at, maybe a rethink is in order?
If any person truly has the future health of planet Earth at heart and wants to build a cleaner, greener future, they should seriously consider not attending COP26 in Glasgow but (as we have had to do during Covid) stay at home and by their actions locally, however small, effect a change.
In the meantime, those who feel that further meetings at a global level are still necessary should carry out such discussions and decision-making by means of the virtual event technologies that are now available to us all.
COP 26 in its present form should not be going ahead.
Neil McKinnon, Glenalmond, Perth
There is a petition to the Scottish Parliament concerning Samye Ling Buddhist Monastery in Dumfriesshire and an application for two new private firearms ranges to be located close by. It asks for legislation to create artillery and firearms exclusion zones around “all places of spiritual importance and religious worship”.
Samye Ling is a tranquil place and rightly should be protected from the intrusive sound of regular gunfire, but a private residence or hotel promoting peace and isolation might surely make a similar claim?
We wish the campaign well but this is a principle of general planning which applies to all. The focus on “places of spiritual importance and religious worship” is a red herring.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society
I note the rhetoric in Westminster by Ian Blackford of the SNP concerning the reduction in the International Aid budget by the UK from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of National income (Scotsman, 9 June). He huffed and puffed in his usual belicose manner about this diabolical cut in aid which should alert us all to look at the facts and the possible reason for his alarmist declamatory/diversionary remarks.
Out of the G7 countries, only Germany currently provides a higher contribution at 0.73 per cent of national income than the UK. One should also note that in monetary terms the UK contribution at 0.5 per cent will still be in excess of £10 billion – still well ahead of other contributors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also stated the figure will return to 0.7 per cent once fiscally appropriate (presumably once Covid is under control).
The savings undoubtedly are required to help with the UK recovery from the pandemic and possibly to help deal with an annual £2bn cost of providing assistance to immigrants both illegal and asylum seeking.
However, most importantly the child poverty rate in Scotland was running at the unbelievable figure of 26 per cent before Covid struck. I would aver that any money from whatever source is badly needed for these unfortunates.
Blackford seems to be oblivious of this fact or he would have couched his response in warmer terms by imploring the Chancellor to provide emergency aid for these Scottish children. After all charity begins at home, does it not?
Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire
Victor Clements (Letters, 10 June) must have been wearing his UK rose-tinted glasses when he wrote: "When we struggled to get the vaccination numbers up to speed, we benefited from UK logistical support." The fact is that the main factor limiting the rate of vaccinations delivered related to shortages in supplies from distribution centres outside Scotland.
Throughout the UK, the vaccination programme has been a great success, but it was inevitable that such a complicated logistical exercise would have occasional hiccups.
The many thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to deliver the vaccination programme in Scotland are going to be a little surprised to hear that the success of their efforts is largely due to the efforts of people hundreds of miles from here.
Gill Turner, Edinburgh
No lessons learned
Scottish teachers deserve our sympathy and gratitude for the heroic response to what they have been put through in the last 18 months. I wonder what they make of the SNP's handling of the current awards process.
We are told that the grades submitted by teachers will have to undergo a "quality assurance" check. Councils will assess the grades and any which are are "out of step" with a school's past performance will be challenged. This sounds remarkably similar to the infamous "algorithm" perpetrated by the SQA last year only to be overturned by John Swinney.
Nicola Sturgeon insists that "if the teacher's judgment is that they stand by the results they gave, that result stands". I am trying to imagine this process in operation. A teacher awards a B to Lauryn and an A to Sam and so on. He is then told that his assessments are "out of step". What is he to do? Roll over and accept that some or all of his pupils will be downgraded or "stand by the results he gave"? Surely teachers are going to back their own professional judgment and stick to their guns. This being so then surely the quality assurance check is a totally pointless exercise.
Similarly there are questions as to how an appeals process will operate. If a teacher submits a B and a pupil appeals for an A based on extenuating circumstances then who is better placed than the teacher to know how his pupil has been affected? In which case why not let the teacher make this judgment in advance of submission of the grade as opposed to the SQA 's normal retrospective process?
"Lessons have been learned" is the usual way for politicians to accept they have messed up. Depressingly the SNP don't seem to have learned very much as a result of last year's exam fiasco.
Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh
Alan Hinnrichs (Letters, 11 June) accuses Boris Johnson of an English nationalism that is brutal, illogical, encourages xenophobia, celebrates ignorance, and is contemptuous of evidence-based science.
However, this can be said of most nationalisms, including the Scottish variety.
A plague on all their houses!
William Ballantine, Bo'ness, West Lothian
Food for thought
The takeover of an enterprising “prominent Scottish player” in the food sector, Bute Island Foods which makes vegan cheese alternative Sheese, for £109 million is greetied as being fantastic for the Scottish company as it has attracted the attention of a Canadian dairy company (Scotsman, 8 June). No doubt those advising Bute Island Foods did well out of the deal in terms of fees and the owners, once any debt is paid off, will pocket a few million each.
However, there is another way of looking at such deals which is to recognise that ownership and control of the company has passed to Canada and with control goes some high-quality jobs and future profits.
There is also the risk of changes being imposed from overseas, and perhaps eventual closure of the manufacturing facility following a move of the process to a more efficient factory nearer the parent organisation, at some stage in the future. Think Wiseman dairies sold to a German dairy some years ago – where are key decisions made now? Likewise Halls of Broxburn which closed in 2012 with the loss of 1,700 jobs when the Dutch owners decided they no longer needed the facility. Halls was another enterprising Scottish company which was built up by the Hall family in the latter half of the 20th century from a butchery business in Edinburgh.
Can Scotland afford to have its enterprising young companies sold off to the highest bidder or do those advocating Scottish independence have a plan in hand which will safeguard entrepreneurial businesses and ensure that decision-making, control and future profits remain in Scotland?
Benedict Bate, Edinburgh
Nicola Sturgeon’s hatred for Donald Trump was well documented, childishly declaring “don't haste ye back” when he left office this year, much to the applause of her sycophantic fellow MSPs.
But where is the same hatred for Joe Biden? US foreign policy has remained largely unchanged, except it has a more toothy and suave grin. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers are still held in facilities across the US. The Vice-President emphatically told Guatemalans “don’t come here”. Even the much-maligned Trumpian theory that Covid-19 is man-made is now a plausible explanation for the origin of the virus.
But will the first minister utter a word about this as she did during her “Orange Man Bad” epoch? Could it be that it was all just virtue signaling and based on personal prejudice? Surely not.
David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire
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