WHEN even your arch-libertarian free marketeer Andrew McKie accepts that climate change is a problem ("The world needs a greener agenda. But it will cost all of us dear", The Herald, July 20), we should all believe it is becoming serious.

Unfortunately, he then spends much of the column denigrating those who have taken positive steps to counter the growing disaster, including of course Greta Thunberg and any others who dare to suggest unpopular actions. Tackling this problem will need us all to make some sacrifices and concerted action by business. The signs of positive action by business are not encouraging. Last week's headline about the tiny proportion of businesses that have even considered actions to cut their carbon emissions ("Most Scottish firms have no plans to cut carbon emissions", The Herald, July 17) does not bode well.

The actions of two of the world's most successful businessmen, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos (successful at least in terms of their obscene accumulated wealth) also fail to set anything like a good example. The massive hype over their escapades to the edge of space really is appalling. Satisfying the whims of a couple of self-regarding billionaires, with the long-term aim of profiting from taking other wealthy folk on journeys that serve no useful purpose to humanity, hardly seems like a responsible action.

Claims about all the "opportunities" this presents for low-gravity research ring pretty hollow. As pointed out by Associate Professor Eloise Marais from UCL, their flights emit almost 100 times the amount of pollution per passenger compared to the already seriously-polluting commercial airline industry.

Western Germany, the west of North America and other less well-publicised areas are now showing the horrendous human and financial cost of climate change. Adding to pollution in the upper atmosphere for this totally pointless exercise is a gross disservice and will add to the misery of billions of other humans.

Dr RM Morris, Ellon.

* ON ITV News last night two items struck me as worthy of comment. One showed the hunger and suffering of the children of Madagascar, and the other, the richest man in the world's trip to space. The latter is apparently to help put space within reach of tourists (or at least those who have a quarter of a million pounds to spare).

I know I'm not the only person to recognise the obscenity of this. But, unfortunately, there are many more who won't.

Bert Peattie, Kirkcaldy.

* I WAS delighted to note that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, was fired off into space recently. My joy was short-lived, however, when I discovered that they were bringing him back. A bit of a lost opportunity there, don’t you think?

RH Buntin, Skelmorlie.


I NOTE with interest your report on the recent Citizens' Advice Scotland survey on taking steps towards the net zero target ("Scots ‘in the dark’ over what they can do to help achieve net zero", The Herald, July 19).

Sixty-eight per cent supported moves towards net zero but 65% had no identifiable energy efficiency measures or renewable technologies installed in their homes. Are these the people who (according to Government and trade body surveys) support covering our country with more wind farms in the pretence of being “green” but don’t want to put any effort themselves into the journey to achieve net zero?

It’s fine to rip the landscape apart, kill wildlife and make a lot of people’s lives a misery by plonking huge, rotating (well sometimes) monsters outside their homes as long as they themselves don’t have to live with them and they can continue to buy the latest in technology, clothes, electric vehicles and fly off on a foreign holiday in order to keep up with the Joneses (not to save the planet) while replacing hedges with garden fencing and real grass with plastic or concrete to cut down on maintenance (also known as laziness but never mind the hedgehogs) and heaven forbid that some dirty birds might poop on that new electric (not so environmentally friendly as you might think) vehicle.

Most people might grasp what net zero is all about but they are not going to do their bit to help achieve it if it’s going to be too inconvenient, they would much rather pass the buck.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.


I HAVE just renewed my fixed-cost energy supply at the best rates I could find, namely 18.67p/kwh for electricity and 3.61p/kwh for gas, showing electricity to be five times more expensive than gas. The Government is waking up to this issue in its drive to replace the use of gas in our homes with electricity and one favoured solution is to increase the tax on gas to make it more expensive.

As renewable electricity, mostly wind-generated, continues to expand rapidly, we are surely going to face huge energy cost increases in a nebulous effort to reduce carbon dioxide, which is essential to all life on Earth.

GM Lindsay, Kinross.


SHELL and ScottishPower are to consider undertaking huge offshore wind farm projects in Scotland. I would like to hear more about approximate figures on the number of jobs (and percentage of total jobs) that may go to Scotland or at least the UK (Scotland is my preference as other regions have other green energy investment to divide among them). This should include data on jobs in the supply of raw materials, manufacture of plant, installation of plant, running of plant and maintenance and so on.

The companies say they have the “right blend of skills and experience” and “it will create thousands of jobs and manufacturing opportunities and will ripple down through the supply chain”. I hope this applies to the various stages of the project and does not means crumbs from the table like has happened with previous wind farms, of any type, and bridges and other major construction projects. There is some good money in the licensing but it is hoped that real jobs, in real numbers, will appear, as well as second tier supply chain jobs.

Niall McTeague, Glasgow.


THE article by Adam Tomkins ("A country at ease with its dual identity. What every Scot can learn from Wales", The Herald, July 21) was thoughtful and, I think, echoed some of the opinions expressed by Gordon Brown in his interventions in the independence debate; the question of how Scotland (and Wales) could find a path to independence while staying in close partnership with England in an asymmetric state.

This put me in mind of my almost forgotten physics and mechanics classes of long ago, and the idea of a balanced lever. With a one-ounce weight at one end and a one-pound weight at the other, the pivot would need to be so much closer to the heavy end (England) that it would look very odd indeed. That wouldn't bother me as a Scotsman but I doubt that England would be happy.

A Scotland within the United Kingdom, with full control of all economic levers, and an agreement with the rest of the UK on defence and trade would be interesting. Scotland would need to remain outside of the EU but could join EFTA to facilitate our trade with Europe and the rest of the UK simultaneously. The problem would be to get England to agree, maybe Professor Tomkins and Mr Brown should put their heads together.

John Jamieson, Ayr.


THE extremely salient point made by Brian Wilson ("Why Scotland’s quango-go-round is a rotten burgh that rewards mediocrity", The Herald, July 21) regarding the selective leadership of quangos engineered by the Scottish Government can be developed further, but only adding to our concerns. It is not simply the leadership of quangos which fails Scotland but their very composition and constitution. Again, there is deliberate action and distortion on the part of the Scottish Government.

Increasingly, these arms-length bodies resemble civil service departments rather than the independent organisations they were intended to be, with originally a brief to challenge the incumbent administration. Their terms of reference were not simply to protect public investment and ensure integrity and coherence, but through creative and independent thinking to achieve improvement in service delivery across relevant domains. Now, alongside the stage army of chairs, we have executive appointees who are civil servants rather than the intellectual iconoclasts who could challenge supposed orthodoxy and certainly the political centralisation and control behaviour so beloved of the SNP-led administration.

Education is a case in point, with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), SQA and Education Scotland acting as lapdogs to the Scottish Government. Executive appointments made by the Government reveal an unhealthy closeness to civil service structures and career tracks. The SFC is, of course, chaired by Mike Cantlay, to whom Mr Wilson makes substantive reference. And it is with dismay, but not surprise, that we read that the "independent" review of education structures is to be led by the outgoing head of Education Scotland. Again, a specific and accountable act by the Scottish Government. And the price we pay is a continuum of institutional support for failed education policies and structures and which let down our students and society.

Professor William Wardle, Glasgow.


I SEE Sir Keir Starmer has to self-isolate. Will we notice?

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.

Read more: Don't be blue about the green revolution