Readers' letters: The fossil fuel debate needs an injection of reality

Your editorial (14 October) agrees with the First Minister’s warning that Scotland must both ensure “people and communities are not left behind” in the rapid 24-year transition from fossil fuels and at the same time provide energy to heat our homes, run our hospitals, get us to work and drive industry.

Can wind power deliver the amount of energy we need?

Where is this reliable, affordable non-fossil fuel energy going to come from? If we don’t use gas, coal, oil and nuclear that only leaves hydro, solar and wind.

Hydro is obviously limited, the sun doesn’t shine at night and is much reduced during winter months, especially in Scotland, and wind is anything but reliable. Technology for storing electricity is progressing but we’re nowhere near there yet.

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Is it not time for a little reality in the debate or will editors and politicians just continue to bang on about racing to zero carbon while we rush headlong to zero energy?

Alastair McCulloch, Dunblane, Stirling

Sending an SOS

The easiest way for an individual to contribute to the fight against climate change is to switch off something (SOS). This advertising campaign was very successful in conserving energy during the three-day week of the 1970s.

People needlessly use domestic lighting for example, often leaving it on in unused rooms. The illumination of public buildings and shop windows at night could also be stopped.

Such steps taken now might remove the need for smart meters, whose unspoken future purpose is to ration or disconnect.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross

Bubble will burst

At some point, and soon, the bubble must burst. We cannot go on shutting down and cancelling our oil and gas production – as well as continuing a bar on nuclear power.

It is irresponsible in the extreme to do this in the present state of uncertainty. To do it while being fully aware of the inability of renewables at this stage – or indeed at any foreseeable stage – is close to criminal. At some point all hell will break loose.

A Scotland in the grip of winter trying to keep up with dwindling and shut-off supplies is unthinkable. But that is exactly the path on which the Greens/SNP have set us – and all to make futile gestures. Thank the Lord we remain connected to the UK.

We were once, very recently, virtually free from the vagaries of the world’s energy markets and close to self-sufficient. But those with no technical expertise and even less good sense have indulged in extreme gesture politics and banned new production and nuclear development to the point that in the not-too-distant future, lives will be put at risk.

I spent most of my working life in the oil exploration and production industry and have at least a basic working knowledge of the subject but even that is infinitely more than those making the decisions these days.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Disruption danger

Your leader article (13 October) warning of Glasgow becoiming the “greenwash summit” paints a clear picture of the reality facing us and of how important the COP26 meeting is to everyone.

It is depressing, therefore, that protest groups are lining up to spoil, disrupt or even prevent the summit from happening. I have no doubts about their right to protest, or of the validity of the reasons behind their various causes, but without success at COP26 and its successors, the next generations face a grim future.

What I do doubt is the effectiveness of their disruptive actions, particularly in light of the enterprising student Luna Martin who won her long campaign against Lidl through the use of social media. Perhaps it’s time to update the old adage “the pen is mightier than the sword” to include the might of social media? Well done, that girl!

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

UK inquiry best

I am not sure I agree with Richard Allison (Letters, 14 October) when he asks for a Scottish Parliamentary inquiry into our handling of the pandemic.

We have already seen this year how weak the Holyrood committee system is, with the party in power being able to define the terms of reference, convene the meetings and generally give the truth the complete runaround.

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The chances of them getting to the bottom of our handling of the pandemic are zero. In the real world, all the main functions of our pandemic response were delivered at a UK level. The Scottish messaging was different, and spun to different effect, but almost certainly confused people, and worsened the result here. The outcome to date in Scotland has been a bit better than the UK as a whole, but not much better, considering the many advantages we had with lower population density, fewer ethnic minorities who we know were disproportionately affected etc.

It is also important to say that the pandemic is not over, and we have yet to get a proper handle on the many collateral deaths and other health issues, as well as the economic costs and the issues arising from that. Any inquiry of substance is much too soon yet. When it does arrive, it needs to be held at a UK level, answering questions from an independent judge who can ask the difficult questions that are not allowed in Scotland today.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Blame game

Mary Thomas has put pen to paper once again to tell us how marvellous is her SNP administration in its handling of Covid (Letters, 14 October). Thus she lays the blame on care homes for being unprepared for the huge increase of patients being foisted upon them.

Quite how care homes could be instantaneously ready she doesnt explain, but is content to ensure that the SNP take no blame.

The NHS and care system in Scotland are in appallingly poor state, and keep going purely through the dedication of all those who work in them, not from anything done by the SNP in Holyrood.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries & Galloway

Myths and reaity

Reading the letters pages, I often wonder whether Alexander McKay and Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 14 October) confer or simply mimlc each other. Thus we have the myth of the two ferries which “rust in a Clyde shipyard which they nationalised”. Another take on this issue could read that following significant contract disputes over the building of two ferries, in order to complete the contract and save highly skilled jobs, the Scottish Government took the yard they were being built at into public ownership. In the meantime, to help maintain lifeline services, the government has purchased a ferry from Norway.

The airport that nobody uses could be presented as Prestwick Airport has moved into profit and continues to diversify its operations, including providing a location for the making of films.

Refusing to join the "successful UK Covid passport scheme", can be translated as, the UK abandoned its planned passport scheme before it became fully operational. The Scottish Government considered adopting the UK app, but were told it would take up to a year to align its processes with NHS Scotland data.

There are areas of genuine concern in Andrew HN Gray's letter, such as the problems at two major hospitals which he mentions. However, they are lost in a verbiage of exaggeration, distortion and statements which are just plain wrong. Mr Gray describes the government as a circus and comments on Lorna Slater's hobby as a trapeze artist. However, he fits well with the metaphor as a juggler of the truth.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Rainbow coalition

I noticed Andrew HN Gray's letter comparing the antics and performance of Scotland's coalition government to that of a circus.

By coincidence, the front page bore a photograph of the First Minister with the TED logo behind her. An extension of Mr Gray's theme developed. The children's programme of yesteryear, Rainbow, and the names of its characters came to mind. "Ted" was one, already inadvertently and topically covered by the First Minister. Will we see further press photos with Humza Yousaf hopefully fronting "Zippy"? Who will front "Bungle"? Will it be the whole cabinet?

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Modern slavery

This coming Monday, 18 October, marks annual Anti-Slavery Day. While Scotland has a decent record in combating the scourge of modern-day slavery, it is a sad fact that human trafficking remains an all too common, if largely invisible, reality in Scotland.

Anti-Slavery Day provides an opportunity to reflect upon the tireless efforts of those in the past, notably the Christian politician William Wilberforce, who led an ultimately successful fight against the slave trade in the teeth of fierce opposition. It is also an opportunity to assess what practical action can be taken by those in authority now to continue the legacy of Wilberforce and others.

A solid start, in recognition of the deep and murky links between human trafficking and prostitution, would be for the Scottish Government to move quickly to criminalise men who purchase sex. It beggars belief that while recognised as a form of violence against women, paying for sex remains legal. If our politicians are serious about dealing with one of the main drivers of human trafficking at source, they should redouble efforts to combat the scandal of commercial sexual exploitation as soon as possible.

Michael Veitch, Parliamentary Officer, CARE for Scotland, Glasgow

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