COULD it be that the smoke and mirrors are losing their power to obscure the truth about oil and gas and what it means for our future?

Rob Edwards from The Ferret collective, writing in the Sunday National (North Sea oil industry’s £6.8 billion bid to breach climate targets, November 3), has caught a glimpse of the real source of the already developing global climate crisis and our nation’s share of the responsibility for it.

It’s climate science, not rocket science. And insofar as I understand it, climate chaos is the certain end result of unchecked global warming. Global warming is caused by greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere. Greenhouse gasses are majorly caused by burning fossil fuels. The fossil fuels originate in large part from the oilfields of the world.

75% of UK’s greenhouse gas pollution originates in the oil and gas pumped from North Sea oil fields. So what’s the policy of the UK and Scottish Governments in light of their declaration of a climate emergency? It’s “business as usual” – produce and burn every drop as quickly as possible – a policy handed down to them by the oil industry.

The industry says there are an estimated 20 billion barrels still to come from below the North Sea. That should be enough to produce three to four times more than our fair share of the pollution that the world can withstand before we’re past the point of no return. Then the effects of climate change become unpredictable and irreversible.

Nowhere am I reading that burning oil and gas is not already impacting life on the planet. Polar ice and glaciers are melting, wild fires rage and extreme weather events become more common. Already poor people on this planet are suffering, often fatally, droughts famines, and flooding.

The implications of this policy of “business as usual” in the oil fields of the UK/Scotland are chilling. It’s the same oil majors who are operating in the North Sea – BP, Total, Statoil etc – that are also operating internationally. There is absolutely no reason to expect that they will adopt any other plan elsewhere. We can fully expect the policy of “maximising production” to be the same over in Norway, in Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf of Mexico, in Russia’s Sakhalin Island, the South China Seas, in Nigeria, Algeria, Mozambique etc etc – every oil field on the planet.

Or are our governments seriously expecting that “we” should be allowed to exploit our oil and gas reserves completely, while elsewhere others can be persuaded to bite the bullet and curtail or stop production? The empire might just about have got away with that one. But it’s just not going to happen. Neither the United Kingdom nor an independent Scotland is going to be able to pull off that trick.

In short, big oil will pump as much as they can as fast as they can, and until they’re forced by circumstances (economic collapse? open revolt?) to stop. By which time it might be way too late for the planet and its people.

There is an alternative. Oil and gas production could be run down in a planned fashion, and our energy needs met by a huge expansion of renewables, wind, solar (and possibly wave?). Workers would have to fight for the right to transfer out of oil into these new industries.

The alternatives? At best, under pressure of circumstances, there will be a belated and emergency transition to renewables and away from oil and gas. If that happens, oil workers will suffer the same fate as the miners when the transition was made from coal to gas. At worst, oil workers and their families and the rest of us will live through an escalating climate crisis and likely social and ecological collapse fuelled by oil and gas.

What hope that this issue gets prominence in discussions during this election campaign? And/or in the run-up to the second independence referendum confidently predicted as soon by the First Minister? A fossil-fuelled independent Scotland?

I don’t think so.

Neil Rothnie