As global warming accelerates, seabirds are increasingly out of sync with their prey. Warming oceans have caused fish to reproduce at different times than in the past. Some species will adapt to the changes, others will not. If, like albatrosses, they have large foraging ranges, they will have difficulty adapting, since they will have no idea what conditions are like at their breeding colony until they get there. Too late to turn back.
Here in Scotland, this summer is proving to be one of the hottest on record. Our winters are passing without the snowfalls which we expect in our high mountain ranges, leaving mountain hares in their winter coats exposed to predators against the snowless ground.
Scottish mountain ski resorts are having to produce artificial snow to allow winter sports to take place. If anyone had suggested just a few years ago that this would be the future for such activities, they would have been advised to get a grip.
Yet here we are – and it’s going to get worse. Ask anyone who works as a countryside ranger what they predict for the future of our mountain species, and for the mountain sports which draw many humans to the high ground, and you will get an accurate response. They will tell you without hesitation that climate change is the biggest threat to their jobs, and they should know.
Carolyn Taylor, Dundee
Two recent articles starkly expose an intrinsic dishonesty at the heart of Scottish separatism. The first (your report, 22 July) describes SNP attempts to avoid a freedom of information request for access to confidential data on unlikely post-independence EU membership prospects. Despite admitting failure to comply with this request, the Scottish Government has cited a cost exemption loophole, so that “the information will remain secret and a new freedom of information request will be required, potentially delaying disclosure by months”. Unsurprisingly, no comment was forthcoming from the Holyrood administration.
The second (Your report, 22 July) details the Health Secretary's role in suppressing the release of Covid mortality figures for care homes prior to the election. Remember that the OEDC education study was also safely put on hold until after votes were cast.
Combined with yet another piece in the same edition on John Swinney releasing a "fake news" graphic and the ongoing matter of £600,000 missing from the SNP separation war-chest, these revelations showcase the profound hypocrisy of a movement which has made an art form of virtue-signalling.
Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh
Re: “Reasonable for MPs not to wear masks”(23 July), it is surely only good manners to wear a mask in public.
Marion Cantley, Edinburgh
The recent announcement by Scotrail that it will introduce cycle carriages on West Highland routes is to be welcomed (although in previous times the guard’s van could accommodate these and more). To augment this initiative and to encourage cycling, would it not be equally useful to have cycle racks on the front or rear of buses, as there are in a number of countries.There may have to be some changes to construction and use regulations, but for governments who bang on about encouraging cycling, this should be a simple process.
Mike Salter, Banchory, Aberdeenshire
Home to roost
Only a few weeks ago, the news media was obsessed by Covid case-rates, splashing headlines about Scotland featuring in Europe’s “top-ten hotspots”. Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross took every opportunity to slam the “shameful record” and “critical failures” of the Scottish Government.Now, as case-rates fall in Scotland while soaring in England, the media, conveniently for Downing Street, is obsessed by a “pingdemic” rather than its cause: vastly increased social interaction due to a premature relaxation of restrictions and a constant noise from the PM about “Freedom Day”.Blaming the app, rather than reckless government, also provides convenient cover for staff shortages and supply-chain problems caused by Brexit For example, there was already a 15 per cent shortage of truck-drivers due to EU nationals leaving the workforce. Just occasionally – they are rarely asked – an industry spokesperson mentions the Brexit effect. The head of the 2 Sisters Food Group, a major player in the poultry trade, said the “pingdemic” had “masked” the underlying problems and predicted major food shortages in the UK.Chickens coming home to roost, it seems.
Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh
They have it EV
Transport Scotland, quoting from research from the Climate Change Committee, says Scotland will need 30,000 new electric vehicle charging points by 2030 (your report, 22 July). Scottish taxpayers have already funded the 2,558 charging points, most of which were provided by the Charge Place Scotland scheme. Rich EV owners do not pay anything for the charging system and some councils even provide them with free electricity.
This must change. Manufacturers should contribute towards the cost and add a "charging point" levy to the customer's invoice. As EV drivers do not pay to use the roads or for maintenance, or suffer fuel duty, they should pay an annual fee to the DVL. Charging point problem solved at no cost to the taxpayers.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
Laura Waddell's critique of the billionaire space race aligns with the social media frenzy surrounding it, but no one is asking what we have to gain. Beyond their investment in the space/aeronautic industry, which was largely disabled by the pandemic, the potential win is much greater: The view of Earth from afar can profoundly shift perspective for the betterment of all.
After Dr Edgar Mitchell returned from walking on the moon in 1971 during his Apollo 14 mission, he was so spiritually transformed by the experience that he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, whose mission statement is: “Bridging scientific exploration and experiential discovery to better understand a timeless truth – that humanity is deeply interconnected." We could use more of that right about now.
Liza Horan, Edinburgh
The UK government published trade figures for the last quarter of 2020 prior to leaving the Single Market and Customs Union and during the second wave of the Covid pandemic, showing that England had a trade deficit of -55 per cent while Scotland had a trade surplus of +25 per cent.
With a hard border down the middle of the English Channel, Brexit – which is English independence in all but name – has led to increased costs and delays, putting our farming and fishing communities at an extreme disadvantage.
There is a nationwide shortage of HGV drivers, with the Road Haulage Association estimating up to 100,000. Retailers and suppliers are struggling to transport goods, even around the UK (“Shops face new struggle”, 22 July ).
The Scottish Association for Marine Science is conducting research into the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic on the seafood sector. During the years 2016- 2019, three quarters of Scottish seafood was exported to the EU.
It will be interesting to compare trade figures for 2021, to establish the effect on Scottish exports post-Brexit using the Q4 2020 figures as benchmark, now that Liz Truss, the UK International Trade Secretary, claims Scottish businesses are excited about Brexit.
D W Lowden, Mannofield, Aberdeenshire
Yesterday’s letter from Janet Bungener was an interesting take on a new nation and its use of a new currency.
I've never seen such a solution to an Independent country's financial position and it is surely her duty to forward her financial projections to Bute House as the current Government have so far failed to address the issue of currency in an Independent Scotland.
The country she describes is not Scotland, I'm sorry to tell her. La La Land would better describe such a nation.
Alan Macdonald, Dalkeith, Midlothian
There are many ways in which advocates of Scottish independence try to make that bitter pill easier to swallow. One of these is to maintain that the UK would continue to pay pensions in Scotland. However, Parliament has clarified that that is not the case . “An independent Scottish state would be responsible for developing its own benefits and pensions policy, as well as... to delive r them”.
Equally, the idea that if Scotland were to break up the UK it would carry no share of the UK National Debt has been firmly and unequivocally contradicted by the Government : “T he respective shares of debt and the terms of repayment would be subject to negotiation.” There is no “Get Out of Jail Free” card for an independent Scotland.
Now, the SNP refuse to discuss benefits that Scotland will receive from Westminster following Brexit. Instead, the benefits will flow directly to councils that apply for funding. Free ports will be another benefit to Scotland’s economy.
The arguments for independence are getting left behind.
Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh
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