ANDREW McKie ("The world needs a greener agenda: But it’s going to cost every one of us dear", The Herald, July 20) is correct in his assertion that "very few people argue that climate change is a myth". Fortunately, his assessment of the cost of changes to our way of life is unduly pessimistic. There will be substantial changes required and these will not be easy, but progress has been made in many areas already.

China is guilty of some serious errors in building large numbers of coal-fired power stations but it is also pushing ahead with electrification of transport, both private and public. Mr McKie might be aware that the best-selling electric car in China, known as Wu Ling, retails for the equivalent of £3,400, brand new. It has a short range and a low top speed but can carry four people, or two plus luggage, for local journeys which are all that most people do, most of the time, including in the UK.

Very few diesels, modern or not, can do anything like 1,000 miles on a tank. The good news is that technology is permitting some electric cars to charge at 300kW, sufficient to go from almost empty to 80 per cent in about 20 minutes, just long enough for a coffee and a comfort stop. These cars are available now and in the next two years we can expect better. Glasgow to Birmingham with one brief stop is possible now, in an electric car.

Far from not being an "immediate prospect", electric planes are already flying. They will be used for short journeys to begin with, maybe Glasgow to Aberdeen for example, and will not replace the current long-haul flights, but they will reduce the amount of fossil fuel that is used.

There is plenty of information available on YouTube, illustrating the immense effort that is going into the technology to replace fossil fuels. Cleaner, cheaper cars are the low-hanging fruit of the market; replacement of gas for cooking and heating will be possible but may be more expensive.

Roger Waigh, Helensburgh.


WHOSE side of the green revolution is Gerry Knowles (Letters, July 20) on? While I have great respect for him as a one-time frontline ScotRail employee, Mr Knowles surely misses the point about the marketing potential of cyclists as bums-on-seats.

Compare the attitude of rail managers in Scotland to those heading rail in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark – to take but four. There, trains are built to hoover up cyclists. Cyclists are positively sought. Here in Scotland, we’re pests who are barely tolerated.

The trains to Oban may take 20 bikes a time, and free on-booking too. Those of us with perhaps longer memories than Mr Knowles recall the era when the then British Rail charged cyclists half the ordinary passenger fare per bike. When bikes were allowed free in the early 1980s, cyclists flooded on to trains, lifting passenger numbers – and therefore rail revenue.

The Oban trains apart, the rest of Scotland’s railways take just little more than two bikes per train. So consider the market missed by our rail industry. My small local bike shop sells two new bikes for every working day of the year. Covid has brought about a further uplift in a cycling revolution that’s been with us now for more than 30 years. Back in 1988, my son and I used a Kyle train between Garve and Achnasheen, and tacked on to the service train were two guards’ vans stuffed with bikes and rucksacks. By the policy of the trains it operates, ScotRail has killed this green market at a stroke and gifted it to the motoring lobby.

Richard Blair (Letters, July 16) is absolutely right to term the introduction by Abellio ScotRail on the Oban line of conditioned carriages adapted to carry 20 bikes as “a token gesture”.

Meanwhile, throughout the rest of Scotland, the welcome introduction of high-speed long-distance 125 trains is marred by the reintroduction of just two spaces per train.

The green revolution won’t go away. When will our public transport system learn to cope with it?

Gordon Casely, Crathes.


JOHN Birkett (Letters, July 19) looks forward to the demise of Gaelic. I am even more concerned with the future of English if he gets his way. Words change their meaning; “decimation” was always a nasty business and it is reasonable that, when few people continue to study the classics, current usage focuses on the nastiness rather than the detail. What “literally blows my mind away” is the suggestion that someone talking about the “fantastic health service” is really invoking the magical; like “incredible”, the word “fantastic” belongs to the group of adjectives that imply unlimited approval. It may be lazy, or just fashionable, to use them in writing, but it is not wrong. All languages have them (try the Icelandic “rosalegur”.)

English long ago dispensed with case markers; the survivors are pronouns and they tend to follow the general rule in modern English that meaning depends on placing in the sentence and on stress, rather than “case” (“it’s me”; “for my team and I”). I’ve no idea what “trans zealots” are doing to the language, but concentrating on the “rigour of our language teaching” suggests that we should ignore everything linguistics now tells us about language.

Martin Axford, Bridge of Weir.


KATIE Hopkins' mouth just got a bit too big when she arrived in Australia for the Big Brother VIP reality TV show. She openly flouted all the rules putting others in danger. It should therefore have come as no surprise that she will not be appearing on the show, and is being deported from the country ("Australia to deport Hopkins after ‘appalling’ behaviour while in quarantine", The Herald, July 20).

Bravo to Australia's direct no-nonsense approach in dealing with this woman,who up until now has been getting away with her controversial and downright stupid behaviour.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.