IT was reported this week that scientists have discovered the damage caused by CO2 emissions caused by the wildfires in Australia has been much worse than they thought. This led to an area over half the size of England being destroyed.

Scientists had previously indicated that the emissions were more than 100 nations combined but new research has found it was double that. Wildfires permanently release carbon back into the atmosphere which can lead to more climate change, which leads to more fires. This is something scientists ominously refer to as “the feedback loop”. The research found that over 700 million tonnes of CO2 were released in just three months of the Australian fires. That’s more CO2 than Germany emits in an entire year.

Was it therefore surprising then, that in a recent global survey of young people aged 16-25, across 10 countries, over 50% of them thought “humanity is doomed”? I hate to be a pessimist but this 61-year-old guy also thinks that! Almost half of those surveyed were hesitant at having their own children which is so sad. Their anxiety was that adults, primarily governments, were lying about the effectiveness of policies to address the climate emergency. Meanwhile polluting projects like HS2 are rolling on. Generally young voters consider tackling climate change is more important than the economy, but clearly politicians, by their actions, disagree.

I like a quote from only two years ago by Doug Parr from Greenpeace UK about the UK Government’s progress on tackling the climate emergency at the time. He stated: “It paints the Government as a sleeper who’s woken up, seen the house is on fire, raised the alarm, then gone straight back to sleep.”

I guess that sums up most of the countries throughout the world.

What an indictment on so many governments throughout the world and their pals in big business. Also on so many individual voters, considered by family, friends and work colleagues to be respected “intelligent” pillars of the community, but who denounce eco warriors as snowflakes and extremists, whilst they vote for cuddly, no nonsense, straight talking Boris (not!) Again, ditto for many countries in the world.

By the time most of us are driving electric cars, after millions of trees have been planted, after we are surrounded by a sea of onshore and offshore windfarms, after every wee bit of plastic has been recycled, etc, it will all be far too late. The proverbial house on fire will have been reduced to a pile of ash, with all the sleepers inside incinerated!

For the sake of those young people surveyed and humanity in general I’ve never more wished to be wrong. There is hope though. COP 26 will sort all this out. Aye right!

Ivor Telfer

Dalgety Bay, Fife

OVER the last few weeks there has been a few letters and articles having a go at Westminster with respect to an oil license for the proposed Cambo oil field. All correspondence that I have noticed are against it on a Green “hobby horse”.

Two points. The first is that stopping one oil field has no impact at all to the planet. Transport needs fuel, modern clothing needs oil products, manufacturing needs plastics, heating needs oil and gas etc etc. The only way to stop the significant use of fossil fuels is to find an alternative that in time replaces current oil derivatives from products. This will stop fossil fuel use but I suspect for some uses we will always need oil.

Secondly, if Scotland were to give up all oil and gas production, we, a future independent Scotland, will lose tax revenues, jobs and technology exports. Will that help the planet? No, as others countries will take up the slack.

Specifically on transport oil could be replaced by hydrogen power as this would work on all sizes of road vehicles, aircraft and ships, with some development. Indeed Airbus are designing a hydrogen powered aircraft at this time.

Electric vehicles are a red herring and are only partly green. Batteries cannot power large vans and lorries, only the smallest of aircraft and no ships. The grid could not support lots of electrical cars. In addition the lithium and cobalt needed are rare and when mined scar the planet. How do you dispose of the batteries that have a seven year life span? For electric cars to be green you would need all power in every country to be renewable. No chance.

Green is good, I am totally in favour of it but you need to be realistic and consider all the uses and also have a little bit of self interest. No point in shooting yourself in the foot.

Robert Anderson


FURTHER to the excellent letters of September 16 by Dr Ron Dickinson and David Allen, it should be noted that, besides other evident differences, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures for those whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 are underestimated in comparison with the figures from National Records of Scotland.

Analyses of independent research carried out by the London School of Economics (LSE), the Financial Times, and others, indicated that figures in England have been under-reported, as was assessed by Channel 4 News shortly after the start of the pandemic.

This, at least to some extent, explains why comparisons of these figures show the death rate in England to be 26% higher than in Scotland while comparisons of deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test show the death rate in England to be over 40% higher. Even the lower rate suggests that thousands of lives may have been saved in Scotland by the actions of the Scottish Government while tens of thousands of lives may regrettably have been tragically lost in England as a result of actions/inactions of the UK Government.

On another matter highlighted in his letter of 15 September, David Cairns’ proposal of beginning a campaign of moderate (and certainly non-violent) “civil disobedience” by those supporting Scotland’s right to determine its own constitutional future appears to have merit. From returning union-jack emblazoned products at check-out counters to our MPS and MSPs referring to the “Unionist Con Party” (pronounced UKIP) or simply the “Con Party”, or other appropriate epithet, at every opportunity, seems like a good start.

Stan Grodynski

Longniddry, East Lothian

REFERRING to memorials for 9/11 all round the world, last Saturday. When was the memorial for the planeload of pilgrims killed when the Americans shot an Iranian plane out of the sky when it was on its way to Mecca? I must have missed it. The hypocrisy of the USA is unbelievable.

Margaret Forbes


The National: Theresa May

REMEMBER when PM, Theresa May, embarrassingly danced on stage at a Tory conference. And a reader recently described Michael Gove as the “John Travolta” of the north. I thought Boris might have created a new post, the Minister of Dance and named Michael Gove, but I suppose you can’t single any one out for this position. Gove like all the appointees dance to Boris’s tune , and despite Westminster’s detrimental effect on the Scottish economy, Scottish Tories too. And yet, none of them suitable for key jobs. Not good enough? One thinks?

Robin MacLean

Fort Augustus

IN 1970, I was still at school. The Vietnam war was raging. The first transatlantic flight by a Boeing 747 ushered in a new era of air travel; Concorde’s first supersonic flight did not. The Beatles launched Let it Be, and split up; and against the odds, the Apollo 13 crew made it back to earth. The Scottish steel industry was making steel as if there was no tomorrow – and sadly, for that industry, there was indeed no tomorrow.

In a thought-provoking article in the July 15 London review of books, James Meek asked “who holds the welding rod?”. He describes in some detail the melancholy series of events surrounding the Campbeltown steel fabrication facility, the attempt to create sustainable jobs in Campbeltown manufacturing wind turbine towers, latterly with the Korean company CS Wind. Ultimately, as we know, it failed. What went wrong?

The bald truth is that European businesses can’t compete in a market where Asian sweatshops are better as well as cheaper. As anyone knows who has visited a modern car factory, welding is a job for robots nowadays. Scotland can only succeed by doing innovative high tech high value-added work: creating and protecting and exploiting cutting edge intellectual property, and investing in the quality and tooling to be able to compete with the best in the world; not sitting at the bottom of the commodity part of the supply chain, where contracts are decided largely on price and whoever has the biggest throughput and market share has the most competitive offer.

Think about it – in 1970, Scottish workers were welding while Vietnamese workers were fighting. Fifty years later, Vietnamese workers have replaced AK47s with welding torches. Surely that’s better for everyone! Vietnam has moved on and is now doing the welding. Scotland must move on as well, to direct our skills and industrial investment to the rising stars of the future, not failed attempts to preserve the fading glories of the past.

The National: Painting the steelwork in the roof space in 1964

But steelwork is important, you say, even strategic. OK, if it is, what does that mean? First, the Government would have to formally declare it as a strategic industry. Then, take measures to secure the whole supply chain, from ore to best possible end product – by best possible I mean the right combination of quality, delivery and price for each market. And then, use the exemption from free trade rules for strategic industries to direct procurement so that all steelwork of certain categories is procured locally, to allow the industry to achieve critical mass.

And the industry would have to step up to the plate: to benchmark itself and invest to compete successfully against the best in the world – and not just where the best in the world is now, but where it’s going to be in five or 10 or 20 years’ time.

“That sounds like hard work!” you say. Well, yes… there are no shortcuts. Most people miss opportunities because they come dressed in overalls and look like work.

“It’s probably not worth it, looking at the way the international steel market is going.”

Ah, now you’re beginning to get the point! “So what should we be spending our limited resources on?”

Good, I say, that’s the conversation we need to have!

Hillary Sillitto, retired engineer, and co-author of Scotland 2070 – Healthy Wealthy and Wise.