Scotsman Letters: Isn’t it time we stopped having firework displays?

Isn’t it time we stopped having firework displays, for the sake of wild animals and our own pets?
Many people now feel that the health  and noise nuisance dangers of fireworks outweigh the pleasureMany people now feel that the health  and noise nuisance dangers of fireworks outweigh the pleasure
Many people now feel that the health and noise nuisance dangers of fireworks outweigh the pleasure

I have lasting memories of the terror of one of our dogs, who was so distressed by the sudden onslaught of loud bangs and whizzes all around our house that he tried to crawl under the nearest person’s jumper to hide from the danger. He was shaking uncontrollably. We tried to mask the noise by putting the radio on and turning up the volume, but he didn’t settle until the last firework had been lit.

How many animals, including domestic pets, wild creatures, and farm animals, are traumatised every November 5 so that we humans can revert to our ancient past, when fire was used to scare off predators as well as providing warmth and light? Imagine how we would react if, without warning, a cacophony of bangs and whizzes suddenly erupted as we settled down to sleep.

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Fireworks are a danger to our physical health too. They are filled with air pollutants, which we breathe in. It’s well-known that air quality after firework displays worsens and can be dangerous for anyone with serious health problems. The pollutants can remain in the air for hours afterwards.

​There’s no denying the visual beauty by which some spectacular firework displays can entertain us, but is an hour of pleasure worth the toxic atmospheric pollutants which are released across the globe whenever these displays take place?

The Scottish Government has issued guidance for local authorities who are organising firework displays. The rationale for this guidance is to ensure that the safety of humans, livestock and wildlife should always take precedence over a form of entertainment which could be dangerous if the rules were ignored.

​Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Unstable world

I refer to the letter to The Scotsman from Marjorie Ellis Thompson (Letters, November 4). She seems unable to recognise that we are living in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world, with major wars in Europe and the Middle East, using increasingly hi-tech munitions that the proven talking-shop that is the United Nations is unable to stop.

In such circumstances it is entirely unclear how an independent Scotland, comprised of a population of less than six million, would protect and enhance the lives of its citizens from current and future events of aggression and where, exactly, the cash would come from to provide both the lifestyles and infrastructure that she champions.

According to her view of life, there are only upsides to independence, and no downsides. I wish it were so but, unfortunately, reality decrees otherwise.

I for one, will never be supporting the break-up of the United Kingdom while the increasing instability of world affairs continues without the necessary leadership and control from the United Nations that has failed miserably for the last 30-plus years to properly discharge its responsibilities for world peace and harmony.

Derek Farmer, Anstruther, Fife

Algorithm antics

While Alex Cole Hamilton (“‘Tax on internet giants should be trebled to boost mental health services’ say Lib Dems”, November 4), makes a good point about the profits that internet giants make from social media, he is missing one important factor affecting the mental health of internet users: the sometimes pernicious influence of algorithms.

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Algorithms are constructed to direct a child or an adult to one and only one source of information which, over time, can damage a person or a child's outlook on life. Indeed, in many cases, fill them with such despair that they take their own lives.

Wouldn't it be better if algorithms were obliged to direct interment users to a wide spectrum of opinion which might, hopefully, make them more discerning about what they are reading? No doubt internet giants are well rewarded financially by "social influencers" to control algorithms and peddle extremist and sometimes nihilistic views but we, as a society, must stop this happening.

Yes, internet giants should be taxed more but they should also be obliged to adapt their algorithms.

Lovina Roe, Perth

Covid questions

It is regretfully becoming clearer by the day that the UK Covid Inquiry is getting nowhere near investigating the real issues around whether lockdown was the right thing to do, had we prepared for such a pandemic, how the roles of those in authority worked and major issues around PPE and care homes, for example.

Instead, we have the tittle-tattle of who said what to whom and why. It rather seems that there were so many egos to massage from politicians like Messrs Johnson and Hancock to medical advisers like Whitty and Valance and special advisers like Cummings and Cain.

The inquiry chairperson, Baroness Heather Hallett, must shift the focus from WhatsApp contributions to ask the real and necessary questions that will help drive our preparedness for what undoubtedly will come again.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

Jings, Crivvens

News that the Scottish Government may publish a new languages bill for St Andrew’s Day raised a smile. It’s intention is to provide support for Gaelic and Scots.

Now, I realise that there are a small number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland but, in my 70 years in Fife and Edinburgh, I have yet to meet anyone who actually speaks Scots. Of course, there are a great number of us who were brought up on the Broons and Oor Wullie, but I suspect that’s the closest we ever came to being exposed to this ‘language’.

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In a similar vein, I can’t be the only person in Scotland who, when presented with a Gaelic word, simply ignores it and reads on knowing that I have no hope of either understanding it or even pronouncing it.

What a waste of time and money. Only the SNP could be behind this.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

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