LEAVING aside the ethical and moral reasons for reducing the carbon footprint of Scotland, which your correspondent Bob Scott (Letters, February 15) seems to consider are irrelevant, not to mention the environmental significance of such a reduction, there is at least one powerful economic reason for a switch from oil and gas to renewable energy sources.
In the 1960s and 70s the offshore oil industry of Scotland produced many skilled engineers and other oil workers who have developed good careers in this country and all around the world. Now Scotland has the possibility of producing an equally large and skilled set of workers whose experience of renewable energy systems, notably offshore wind farms, which will produce career opportunities here and much further afield. Let’s not throw away this huge opportunity that we have.
With regard to the cost of fuel, as mentioned by Leonard Maguire (Letters, February 15) the increase in cost is not the fault of the renewable energy companies, it is profiteering by the major oil and gas companies. A windfall tax on these companies could help alleviate the difficulties that many people are having heating their homes. In the mid to long term these difficulties will be overcome by relatively cheap renewable energy. In addition, it will be no longer possible for foreign countries, and indeed the big oil companies, to literally and metaphorically hold us over a barrel and increase prices once renewables become our main source of energy.
And, if your correspondents cannot see the significance of reduced carbon footprints and preventing climate change, let them note the serious storms that we have been having recently which may well be a portent of increasingly difficult weather problems coming our way.
So, come on Scotland, let’s lead the world in renewables the way we did in offshore oil and gas.
John Palfreyman, Coupar Angus.
* IT is difficult to see how a reduction to Scotland’s minuscule 0.15 per cent of global emissions could make any difference to our climate, and I suppose Lorna Slater and her party would not be able keep the lights on if oil production stopped as they intend. If Ms Slater actually believes what she is doing is worthwhile, then she is fighting on moral grounds. She seems to me to be a fanatic for whom reality does not exist, and her next step would be to brandish our cold and darkness as a further example of sacrifice.
By that time of course, there would be a Church of the Climate, where climate deniers could receive absolution for their sins.
Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.
WHAT FREEDOMS DO PROTESTERS WANT?
INTERESTING this concept of freedom being invoked in Canada and in France (“US-Canada border reopens after protests against Covid restrictions”, The Herald, February 15). Whose freedom are we talking about exactly?
Freedom in the purest sense is only possible if you live in a bubble, alone, or on a desert island where your actions have no bearing or result on others.
Now, people are entitled to their own opinion, as long as it is not coercion to their own world view. Presumably, since these freedom fighters think that most people don’t die, they don’t mind many more filling hospital beds unnecessarily. And, if they are one of those needing hospitalisation, they don’t mind sacrificing their hospital bed for others and suffering or even dying horribly in their own home, without causing a fuss. Or, if they find their hospital bed is filled, when they need an urgent operation for an unrelated matter, they don’t mind waiting in pain.
Tellingly, this protest is more about themselves, not others.
Trevor Rigg, Edinburgh.
TELL THE PENICILLIN BACK STORY
I HEARTILY endorse the wish expressed by Alastair Clark (Letters, February 14) that you and other publications will commemorate the centenary of the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming.
The story is well known: Fleming had returned from a holiday, and was tidying up his laboratory, disposing of old petri dishes and their contents. However, he was struck by seeing that one dish, in which had contained a culture of a very virulent micro-organism, had been contaminated by mould, and this mould had markedly disrupted the germ’s growth.
Most people (me included) would probably have thought ”How interesting” and simply dunked the dish into the bucket of disinfectant. Fleming appreciated the significance of this finding, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
He thought that this discovery could be used to identify germs, but its development into a drug followed a rather convoluted path.
It was not until 1940 that the therapeutic aspects of penicillin began to be explored in Oxford by Howard Florey, from New Zealand, and Ernst Chain, a refugee Austrian Jew (both of whom shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming). Florey and Chain cultured the mould, and extracted penicillin from it, successfully treating patients for as long as they could maintain supplies, but they were working on a very “cottage industry” basis.
In order for penicillin to become widely available, it was necessary to enlist the help of the US pharmaceutical industry, which could produce it on a large scale. Even so, they had much difficulty, because the penicillin molecule is fastidious.
Thus, I hope that any journalistic production would, as well as praising the pioneers, spare some effort to celebrate the contributions made by many others which must have saved countless lives, and prevented much disability.
Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.
ON NEUTRAL GROUND
PERHAPS it might be an idea to revert to some previous post-revolutionary gender-neutral terms for everyone: for example, Citizen (French Revolution) or Comrade (first Russian revolution). It would replace Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, Sir, Madam, My Lord, etc, and address the concerns of those who really feel that it matters.
Terms such as Comrade Speaker or Comrade Leader of Her Majesty’s Leader of The Loyal Opposition have a certain ring to it.
How it could made compulsory without the general populace falling about is another matter.
Ronald H Oliver, Elie.