Reading through the narrative of how the “panda curse” affected said world leaders, one would actually find these “examples” had nothing to do with pandas at all (“Is Nicola Sturgeon at risk of succumbing to the ‘curse’ of China’s panda diplomacy?”, 17 August ).
The giant panda symbolises friendship and peace. China provides pandas to other countries as a form of international collaboration on panda conservation, while trade or commercial interests have never been a factor for consideration. Currently, China is working with 22 zoos over 18 countries on panda research. The funds raised from cooperation have all been used for the conservation of endangered species. The partnership has led to tremendous progress towards understanding the biology of pandas, promoting public awareness of biodiversity conservation and people-to-people understanding.
The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, host of the gift pandas to the US in 1972 and where Alastair Stewart says the “panda curse” began, has maintained half-century cooperation with China on panda conservation, and its director has hailed the cooperation as one of the greatest conservation successes in history.
Since Tian Tian and Yang Guang settled in Edinburgh Zoo, experts from China and Scotland have carried out multiple research projects, organised technical and personnel exchanges and supported public education campaigns like “Beyond the Panda”. The pandas have not only been a fantastic attraction, but an important part of efforts to save the threatened species.
Scotland is home to not just the UK’s only giant pandas but also the largest collection of Chinese plants cultivated outside China. The Chinese government values these scientific links with Scotland, and hopes both sides provide a good environment, naturally and socially, for the flourishing of these species.
Song Yufen, Spokesperson, Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Edinburgh
Work to be done
Alexander McKay (Letters, 25 August) misses Andrew Neil, who is hiding out in France after GB News’ disastrous launch, zero viewing figures and staff exodus.
By all means, let Mr Neil try to revive his flagging career by taking on Kate Forbes. As they say, good luck with that. Mr Neil is just another Unionist irritant and the Scottish Government should ignore him and get on with the job of restoring our independence.
As mandated by SNP members, it must create the Scottish Statistics Agency to reflect the reality of Scotland’s economy and not the UK GERS-imposed fiction. It also needs to work on establishing a Central Bank and currency, without which true independence is impossible.
The Union has held Scotland back. When compared with 16 European nations, the UK consistently ranks near or at the bottom on pensions, national debt, income inequality, productivity, and overall economic performance. The UK exploits our resources and siphons off our revenues, allocating us a false deficit that includes billions in servicing a debt we didn’t create, an immoral nuclear arsenal on our soil and an unfair tax regime.
Even Andrew Neil concedes that upon independence, the UK inherits all the treaty obligations, including debt, as the successor state, meaning Scotland would start with a clean slate.
Independence is normal. Let’s do this.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh
Professor Stuart Haszeldine is right when he says Scotland can lead the way with carbon storage due to the vast volumes of porous rock under the North Sea (Comment, 25 August), but with energy and the economy reserved to Westminster the signs are not good.
Prior to the 2014 referendum, the UK government dangled the prospect of a programme to support the commercialisation of carbon capture and storage but cancelled the commitment to invest one billion pounds six months before it was due to be awarded, with Peterhead leading the bidding process.
Following a £20 million investment last year by the Scottish Government and Aberdeen City Council, UK Government ministers have again failed to commit to funding for a groundbreaking hydrogen hub tipped to revitalise the energy sector.
Unlike Norway and Denmark, successive UK governments have failed to invest Scotland’s oil revenues in our renewables while giving generous tax breaks to oil companies.
The Norwegian state-owned Equinor (formerly Statoil) is operating in 36 countries with investments in renewable energy. Norway is also building hydrogen fuel-celled ferries and cruise liners.
Denmark's majority state-owned energy company Orsted is the world's largest developer of offshore wind power, while Danish-owned Vestas is a world-leading wind turbine manufacturer.
Scotland is a resource rich country. It has enviable levels of tidal, wind and wave energy but we will never realise our full potential under UK government control as Scotland hasn't got a single hydrogen electrolyser manufacturer or any wind turbine manufacturer.
Fraser Grant, Edinburgh
Listening to the radio this morning, I heard an English presenter asking why Scotland can manage to have “free” hospital car parking and why England can’t follow this lead.
One could argue that it is because we get more per head in public funding but it actually comes down to choices. Scotland can do this because it doesn’t invest properly in drug treatment beds and it doesn’t give councils enough money to fund the services they provide. Take libraries, road repairs, school patrol staff – all of which have taken a hit because councils are strapped for funds.
It may appear that the grass is greener in Scotland but that is only because councils are no longer cutting the grass as they can’t afford to. “Be careful what you wish for” would be my reply to anyone who envies the Scots their free hospital car parking space.
Jane Lax, Aberlour, Moray
Further to Clark Cross's sarcastic response to Piers Torday's comment on the biodegradable potential of his new children's book (Letters, 23 August), I would point out that wind farm developers and others keep referring to the CO2 levels as being the harmful gas to the planet.
In fact, methane gas is far more harmful as a greenhouse gas and is produced by rotting vegetation, animals discharging gas both front and rear. This has had a detrimental effect on the protective ozone layer from the sun's rays.
Michael Baird, Bonar Bridge, Highland
Carolyn Taylor is selective with her comments (Letters 25 August). I am perfectly aware that there are different views on the CO2 emitted from volcanoes but if she had paid attention she would have seen that I wondered if in his next book Piers Torday could tell us how mankind might eliminate the thousands of tons of emissions created by wars, volcanic eruptions, earthquake, tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis?
All such disasters require steel, concrete, cement, diesel machinery, wood and a whole host of other materials in the rebuilding process and these create additional emissions.
She made no comment about China, India, the US, Russia and Japan, which are escalating their emissions. China is planning to build 43 new coal-fired power plants and together with those planned for India, Japan and Vietnam, will account for more than 80 per cent of the new coal-fired power stations planned across the world.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency and has ordered the building of five gas power plants to avoid blackouts. Ironic really, politicians believing that wind turbines and solar panels will provide reliable and cheap electricity and save the planet.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian
If the powers that be permit the Scottish Greens to keep their questioning spot at First Minister’s Questions, as apparently has been mooted by them, surely it reduces Holyrood and devolution to a farce. You simply cannot be part of the administration and in opposition at the same time. The very suggestion is preposterous; but that alone may make it more attractive to many in the, frankly, at times preposterous parties involved.
The fact that the entire numerical support for the Greens could fit comfortably into several phone boxes only adds to the farce. Others outside of Scotland must look on and those who care about us must wince in embarrassment.
How can Holyrood even be considered a serious institution?
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh
Fleece is word
Farming correspondent Andrew Arbuckle provided a lighthearted commentary on the current woes of the farming industry, in part due to non-demand for sheep fleeces (23 August). His anecdotal proposal to increase demand by transferring some of the Government subsidy monies to the market end of the industry is noteworthy.I recall being in Shetland when Children in Need kicked off in the Eighties and per head of population they were the biggest area donors in the UK. One reason for the large sum raised was the production and auction of a pair of Fair Isle knitted 'Y' fronts, which went down a bomb. Now there's a novel idea for starters. Get the pins out for your man's Christmas.
Archie Burleigh, Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire
Write to The Scotsman
We welcome your thoughts. Write to [email protected] including name, address and phone number – we won't print full details. Keep letters under 300 words, with no attachments, and avoid 'Letters to the Editor' or similar in your subject line.
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.