Readers' letters: For peat’s sake, start saving environment now

The Westminster Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, is quoted as saying that “our peatlands are an incredibly valuable natural resource”.

The maintenance of peat bogs, and restoration of damaged vegetation, is seen as providing a natural solution to climate change
The maintenance of peat bogs, and restoration of damaged vegetation, is seen as providing a natural solution to climate change

If this is what she believes, why is the use of peat for horticultural use not being banned right now? It seems that discussions at COP26 have been quickly and conveniently forgotten.

There is ample evidence from organisations such as Plantlife, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Scotland's Garden for Life Forum and others about the disastrous impact of using peat.

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Why do the UK Government talk of “phasing it out” over a lengthy period? Why not ban its use tomorrow? There are very acceptable alternatives.

I suspect that shareholders’ profits lie behind this watered down approach to banning peat. Manufacturers like selling peat as it makes a fat profit. It’s easy to dig up and needs very little treatment before it’s bagged and sold. Until it’s use is forbidden by law, they will continue to find excuses to continue.

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Jenny Mollison Inveresk Village

Frost-free

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Free market capitalism and low taxation? Is that really the best hope for a country torn apart by Brexit, struggling to adjust to climate change and overwhelmed by every twist of the coronavirus?

David Frost has already engineered the most economically damaging outcome of this century, fouled up our relations with the European Union and offended the moderates in his own party.

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Good riddance, except that he has done what all narrow-minded narcissists do and resigned rather than clean up the mess that he has created.The average age of a right-wing Tory must be around 90. Their extinction looks imminent, their views those of a woman long dead.

If Scots want to leave this self-inflicted extermination of the Thatcherite species, they know how to vote in the coming independence referendum!

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Frances Scott, Edinburgh

Time to go, Bojo

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Boris Johnson was always something of a novelty, and novelties tend to have a relatively short shelf life.

His 'cheeky chappie' persona and unkempt look may have endeared him to some, but these characteristics belie the total lack of appropriate gravitas, statesmanship and moral compass which one has the right to expect of a British Prime Minister.

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These deficiencies will always feature prominently as part of his legacy, but to around half of the Scottish populace, he could also be remembered as the catalyst responsible for condemning us to a very bleak future, full of uncertainty.

He should listen to the earnest, heartfelt pleas from sincere and upstanding opponents, Nicola Sturgeon and her cuddly cohort, Ian Blackford – resign now!

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Richard Peters, Kirkcaldy

Dutch courage

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I note that the Dutch Government has made the politically bold decision to effectively cancel Christmas until at least 14 January 2022 in light of the escalating Covid crisis.

Meanwhile,back in the land of the free,our own political masters are effectively advising us to take care and enjoy Christmas in a sensible manner with no review of regulations planned before 27 December ie after Christmas.

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Am I alone in thinking that a world health pandemic requires more than just gentle encouragement? And what is Christmas in 2021 beyond a vulgar commercial racket?

Time for the UK and devolved admistrations to follow Chris Whitty rather than the electorate and apply the Dutch example before it’s too late.

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David Edgar, Symington

Cold facts

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Ken Carew (Letters, 16 December) claimed that the common cold first appeared in 1889, but he evidently mistook Dr Chris Smith (The Naked Scientist), who spoke about it.In fact there are hundreds of common cold viruses, but a new one (OC43) probably emerged about 1890, when a pandemic swept the globe. This originated as a bovine coronavirus, jumping the species barrier into humans.Dr Smith surmises that Omicron could turn out to be like OC43, mild in nature although endemic.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

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Stable condition

I wonder whether other readers have ever wondered whence came the tradition that Jesus was born in a stable?

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True, there is the manger in Luke's gospel, and 'no room in the inn' but there's nothing in the Bible about a stable

Laying a baby in a manger surely is equivalent to using a drawer as a makeshift cradle nowadays, or even a baby box, but it does seem somewhat excessive to infer a stable from a feeding trough.

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As for the ubiquitous ox and ass, there's nothing about any animals in either Gospel account, and anyway a stable would imply horses rather than farm animals. So why are they there?

I wonder therefore whether the animals are symbols of Alpha and Omega, an appellation of Christ? Not just A for Ass and O for Ox but the Phoenician word for an ox is Aleph, and Onos is Greek for an ass.

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This is also suggested by the macaronic carol 'Unto us is born a son' which contains the line 'O and A and A and O'.

So perhaps the inclusion of the animals was originally to remind people that the baby was Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

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Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews

Nuclear option

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There is acrimony between EU governments concerning the growing realisation that intermittent solar and wind renewables, once hailed as the ultimate in sustainable energy, will neither mitigate climate change or be remotely capable of supplying all their future energy needs.

Because gas has relatively low emissions and nuclear power has none, they argue that in order to secure energy supplies, they may paradoxically have to be redefined as Sustainable Green Energy as part of the transitional route to net zero.

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The UK's 11,000 wind turbines may have a theoretical installed capacity of around 40 per cent but as recent events have shown their output falls dramatically and consistently below this figure.

Consequently our electricity grid is in a similarly precarious position to that of Europe and unless leaders wake up very quickly power cuts are likely.

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A hint of their unspoken concern may lie behind UK government funding which is matched by private investors to the combined total of £460 million to a consortium led by Rolls Royce for developing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

Each unit would have a 60-year life span, be much quicker to build and occupy just a tenth of the area of a conventional nuclear power station, supplying power to a million homes.

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This makes eminent sense but whether security of supply will trump concerns about safety and waste disposal remains to be seen.

First Minister Sturgeon clearly enjoyed treading her self-proclaimed "ethical road to net zero" as she set off the demolition charge that reduced Longannet to rubble.

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Alas she only added to her administration's long list of ruinous miscalculations and failures. Her blinkered obsession with Independence blinds her to reality.

The SNP coalition's vehement opposition to nuclear power and any significant degree of fossil fuel input to the grid means that no matter how many wind turbines they sanction, our electricity supply will remain increasingly precarious as demand from all-electric homes and electric vehicles escalate.

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Neil J Bryce, Kelso

Persecution folly

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Last week, Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe published the extraordinary claim that the UK is one of the “most intolerant” countries in Europe towards Christians.

The report bemoans persecution and a loss of “religious freedom.” Schools are required to provide sex education that is LGBT inclusive; churches are not exempt from Covid safety measures; the freedom ideologically to oppose abortion is not permitted to extend to harassing anxious women accessing healthcare and religion-run adoption agencies are disallowed from discriminating against same-sex parents.

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Persecution? An equal platform in debate and having to obey laws which apply to all is hardly being thrown to the lions is it?

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society

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Interest rise

So the Bank of England has raised interest rates, in the midst of a huge Covid infection wave, ongoing critical supply chain problems and soaring prices due not to excess consumer demand but to the pandemic and Brexit.

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This makes absolutely no sense except for the wealthy few, the only people this dangerous government cares about. For the ordinary citizen, the interest rate rise means higher mortgage payments and more unemployment with no chance of furlough being revived while Sunak vacations at his California home, otherwise known as fiddling while Rome burns.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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Costly trains

On January 24 rail fares in Scotland will see the biggest rise for 10 years increasing the cost of a seasons ticket between Glasgow and Edinburgh to an eyewatering £4430.

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The Scottish Government have terminated the Abellio contract with effect from March 2022 and the rail service will be run by a nationalised company, but with price increases like these it is unlikely that travellers will be persuaded to use such an expensive train service

Dennis Forbes Grattan, Aberdeen

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