Save the planet by lowering standards of living - Readers' Letters

Brian Wilson (“Hydro can be a force for good again”, Scotsman, 26 June) champions the Loch Awe pumped storage facility for its green credentials and says that the new owners – Drax – are planning to double the capacity of the site. Pumped storage exchanges high-price peak energy for marginal cost off-peak energy, and provides an all-year supply.

Wind turbines use copious quantities of energy in their manufacture
Wind turbines use copious quantities of energy in their manufacture

This, however, is only part of the proposals to eliminate the greenhouse gases which endanger the lives of every living organism on the planet.

The big question for individuals is domestic and commercial heating, and peak electricity generating capacity.

As an example of going all-electric, a house using 5,000 Kwh of electricity, 25,000kwh of gas, and 500 litres of gas oil per annum, would see their energy costs rise from £ 2,200 to £4,600, as well as £40,000 for an electric car, and £10,000 for a replacement central heating system. The current price of electricity is five times the price of gas per Kwh.

The downside of the government's targets to go all electric are that the electricity transmission system will not cope and will require to be at least triple the current grid capacity.

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Aso a small wind farm of 30 turbines needs 28,000 tons of iron ore, 45,000 tons of concrete and 900 tons of fibre glass, all of which use copious quantities of energy in their manufacture.

In Chile, which produces much of the lithium for EV batteries, the process demands tons of water to produce one ton of the metal, and the inhabitants have to endure water shortages and the problems of toxic waste.

These stark figures lead us to one impelling fact – that we all need to reduce our energy demand in order to allow the planet to breathe, even if this implies a major reduction in our living standards.

James Macintyre, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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Fishing fleet

There seems little doubt that offshore wind farms will have a very negative effect on the Scottish fishing industry.

Our fisherman depend on the seabed for a living and work in very difficult and hostile environments, contributing greatly to our economy in Scotland.

Should consideration not be given to building these wind farms on coastlines round our shores where we have many barren and uninhabited locations? These locations would create jobs in local communities where they are most needed.

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Hopefully somebody in government will give thought to the concept.

DG McIntyre, Edinburgh

Science challenge

Dr John Cameron (Letters, 28 June) is right when he says that science derives its influence from its successes. But the examples he quotes about its links with politics brilliantly illustrate what happens when politicians think they know better.

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The influence of the charlatan Trofim Lysenko in Stalin's Russia caused geneticists to be put into the gulag, where they died, and an agricultural disaster; and Nazi antisemitism and espousal of "German Physics" (Einstein was rubbish) meant that Hitler never got nuclear weapons.

Scientists are not perfect. They are human. But without their work the cause of Covid would be a mystery, an act of God, and a majority of us might still believe in witchcraft and die young from diphtheria or smallpox or typhus or tuberculosis.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Supply and demand

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I agree completely with Allan Sutherland (Letters, 28 June). At the moment we have all manner of businesses looking for additional staff, in some cases operating on shorter hours because they cannot secure them. On the other hand, we have any number of young and not so young people needing to find that first step on the ladder, or trying to get back in to employment again.

For most people, your ideal job is not going to appear within a short distance of your house. There are barriers to employment, physical, technical, logistical and mental as well. Lack of training and indeed lack of confidence are major issues following the trauma of the past 15 months or so.

Joining up the two sides of this issue is the role of government, and they should be judged on their ability to do this.

Those of us who remember the 1980s knew that there were times when work of any sort simply did not exist anywhere. If we were to go back to that time and tell people that in 40 years, businesses would be struggling because they could not get workers, but at the same time, we had huge numbers of people unemployed, what would they think?

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We need to start joining up the dots, and if government cannot do this, then we need to start asking why.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Trial by media

Irrespective of the views on the ministerial competence of Matt Hancock, our former Health Minister, surely it is wrong for anyone in the UK to be hounded out of a job by a pervasive media campaign.

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What has gone wrong with our society in the UK in recent times? Why is our media allowed to sensationalise events in furtherance of its own profile and profits? Why is it that a newspaper is allowed to receive and print information derived from a non-disclosed source that is a clear and serious breach of Whitehall security?

The old adage should start being applied within the chattering classes of society...namely: “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Inspiring message

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Walking along Perth’s Kinnoull Street the other day, I noticed a memorial plaque to the 19th century industrialist Sir Robert Pullar on the aptly named Pullar House. The last sentence of the text, which described Sir Robert as “A noble example of success attained by industry, integrity and perseverance”, particularly caught my eye.

It occurs to me that these three virtues, which we might prefer nowadays to call hard work, honesty and determination, are too little valued today. Instead, politicians, teachers and opinion formers obsess about equality and inclusiveness.

Social commentators are all too good at finding inequalities and demanding ever more legislation and spending of taxpayers’ money in the name of equality. At the same time, they studiously ignore the connection between these traditional virtues and prospects of success in life.

Surely a belief in self-improvement through hard work, fair dealing and grit is far more empowering to the individual and beneficial to society than waiting for the state to iron out inequalities real and imagined?

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Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Diplomatic failure

HMS Defender’s provocative incursion into Crimea’s disputed waters brings back memories of the Crimean War (1853-1856) and The Charge of the Light Brigade. Britain’s policy towards the Turk was to prop up the “sick man of Europe”. Russia could not be allowed to liberate Balkan Christians from Ottoman rule. So much for the past.

As for the present, whose bright idea was it to escalate tensions between Britain and Russia? Either Britain stops sailing into Crimea’s disputed waters, in which case we’ve lost face, or Russia tolerates future incursions and loses face. This lose-lose situation is the opposite of diplomacy.

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Yugo Kovach, Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

History lesson

I was appalled to read of the deliberate attempts to play the race card down in Lochwinnoch – Scotland's most laid-back and welcoming of villages – by an incomer taking faux offence over one of their primary school "Houses" being named McDowall after the family whose history shaped much of the area, because some of them dealt in slavery. (“Scottish schoolgirl's campaign to banish legacy of Scots slave trader”, 27 June).

Scots need no lectures on slavery – being victims of it courtesy of 800 years of Viking and Irish pirate raids, which only ceased upon the Norman conquests of Ireland in the 12th century. Furthermore, most of those living in Lochwinnoch at the time of Colonel McDowall would have been indentured labour bound to perpetual service in a state of serfdom – ie de facto slavery – which wasn't abolished until 1799.

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Far from Colonel William McDowall "being lauded as a gentleman of fine character”, history shows he was regarded as a "new money" upstart with a fake military title (he was only honorary Colonel of the St Kitt's Militia and never joined the army). He was loathed by his Lochwinnoch tenents, whom he was shocked to find unlike his Caribbean slaves were willing to fight back. In 1730, they defeated him in court over his attempts to restrict access to the lochs, forcing the rebuilding of two access bridges he'd destroyed.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Sectarian shame

My family was historically almost entirely and amicably split between those of Catholic-Irish descent and those of Presbyterian Scots. These days, like most families, I would venture the majority would claim to be agnostic.

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Nevertheless I feel deep resentment at James Dornan of the SNP and his remarks about Lothian Buses and St Patrick’s Day and his refusal to make a full and public apology for the insinuations he made, as discussed by John McClellan (Scotsman, 26 June).

A half-hearted admission of being wrong to a fellow SNP councillor in Edinburgh does not do the trick.

In typical nationalist fashion, devoid of any sense of irony, he is accusing Lothian Buses of the bigotry that he himself displays in abundance.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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