YOU might suppose the position of Leader of the House would carry a collaborative and diplomatic posture as a prerequisite for the position. But the ugly, unsubstantiated attacks on the SNP by Penny Mordaunt ("Tory MP Mordaunt lashes out at SNP’S ‘bile and hatred’ over indy", The Herald, August 7) are not surprising where the normal rules of democratic legitimacy in Scotland have been supressed - Ruth Davidson, Alister Jack, Sir Keir Starmer et al asserting an elected Holyrood majority would mandate a new independence plebiscite, then reneging.

Anyone in Scotland could have told Ms Mordaunt that all the “bile and hatred” in 2014 was exhibited by the British nationalist side, culminating in the appalling George Square attacks by Union flag-waving thugs (disgracefully misreported by the BBC in Scotland).

The failure of Westminster to live up to the fine words used in 2014 (respect, equality, entrenchment and the like); Brexit separatist nationalism in England and the use of Westminster “sovereignty” (an English tradition, oddly agreed to by the Supreme Court) can only exacerbate political tensions in these islands. Penny Mordaunt is just another Westminster bagpipe drone who makes a lot of discordant noise in attacking Scotland’s main political party, apparently in aid of her own personal advancement.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

Breaking from US hegemony

DAVID J Crawford (Letters, August 7) correctly highlights the hypocrisy of the global elites who emit greenhouse gases at a higher rate than the rest of humanity and yet demand that we, not they, reduce our carbon footprint.

The source of much of the wealth these global elites enjoy is also the world’s single-largest emitter of greenhouse gases - the global war machine, led by the US and the UK.

Since 1945, the UK has deployed its military 83 times in 47 countries, in conflicts ranging from colonial wars and covert operations to propping up corrupt regimes. It has permanent bases at 145 sites in 42 nations or territories, spending £55.5 billion per year, while the US maintains nearly 800 permanent bases in over 70 nations and territories, spending $850bn a year. By contrast, Russia has 21 overseas bases and China has one.

The US military emits 51 million metric tons of carbon a year, a larger polluter than 140 countries combined, and the UK’s military emits 11m tons a year, not including the emissions caused by actual wars. (In its first four years, the Iraq war was responsible for 151m tonnes of carbon releases).

A ray of hope is that a group of emerging economies, the BRICS (a grouping of the world economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), is calling for a rebalancing of the world order away from a US hegemony based on force to a multipolar world based on co-operation. It’s one that an independent Scotland would welcome.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.

Read more: Why is it the rich never have to worry about climate change?

Keep nuclear part of the mix

ONCE again, Norman McNab (Letters, August 7), makes a well-argued case for a better balance of energy sources than is the basis of the current programme of the Scottish Government with its emphasis on installing even more wind turbines. As Mr McNab states, this source cannot be relied upon when there is insufficient wind to meet demand. Nuclear power must be included as part of the mix. It is to hoped that he is not whistling in the wind despite his raising the matter in these columns in the past.

While there is legitimate concern about the long-term issue of dealing with nuclear waste from whatever source, it is doubtful if sufficient consideration has been given to the eventual disposal of the components of wind turbines. As with everything mechanical, these will have a finite working life. This will be particularly true of those sited in a hostile offshore environment. It has to be asked how much of the materials incorporated in their construction can be recovered and recycled, and at what cost.

There is an assumption that the demand for electricity will be almost insatiable. Photographs taken from space might support this view with Planet Earth ablaze in so many areas. Perhaps it is time to consider how much of this light is really necessary, and move to reducing the level of light pollution as part of the approach to meeting future energy demand.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

Boost ferries, not bridges

JUDGING by his advocacy of building more bridges and tunnels to islands rather than relying on ferries ("Rural Scotland urgently needs a new social contract", The Herald, August 4), one can only suppose that Andy Maciver does not believe there is any need to reduce the harmful emissions from vehicles.

If we are to have the ghost of a chance of meeting our emission reduction targets, we have to make the non-car option the easy one.

Considering the current ferry options, which offer views of some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in the world, is it likely that the alternative of a journey by bus over a bridge or in the depths of a tunnel will achieve this?

For instance, where 20 years ago people living in Kyleakin could walk on to a ferry to their work in Kyle of Lochalsh and walk off, or vice versa, the construction of the Skye Bridge, wonderful feat of engineering though it undoubtedly is, considerably lengthened their commute whether on foot or by bicycle and although the option of a bus was and still is available, I would lay a small wager that with the removal of the ferry, many erstwhile foot passengers decided to drive every day to and from Skye instead. It is reasonable to suppose that this was also the case for those coming from further afield who had hitherto stepped off the train at Kyle pier and straight on to the boat but now they drive the whole way.

By all means improve island connections, but not at the expense of further increasing car and lorry use. It is unfortunate that nearly all the changes to island connections over the past 50 years, for instance on the routes to Stornoway, Mull, Larne and even Cumbrae, have pushed passengers in precisely the opposite direction.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews.

Read more: The problem with heat pumps is the artificial price of electricity

Walking theory is a non-starter

I AM deeply sceptical about claims that walking about the house could make a meaningful contribution to domestic electricity consumption ("Power your own home by simply walking on carpets", The Herald, August 7).

The numbers simply don’t stack up and, without going into detail, data suggests that an hour of walking at a reasonable domestic speed of 2mph would require around 660 kilojoules of energy. But once you subtract perhaps 250kJ to fulfil basic metabolic functions and at least another 200 for the heat produced because the body is far from 100% efficient, I doubt if even 200kJ per hour could be applied to the walking surface for potential electricity generation. This, even if fully converted to electricity which is extremely doubtful, is the equivalent of 0.06 units of electricity. Even a generous estimate would therefore be that it would take almost an hour and three quarters of constantly tramping round your front room even to boil a kettle with a litre of water.

It’s also interesting to consider that generating that 200kJ of energy using fossil fuels would produce around 13 grams of carbon dioxide, whilst doing it by tramping round your front room would produce around 65 grams – five times as much – from metabolising glucose.

Perhaps if they developed a surface that made walking about the house as challenging as struggling through a foot of snow, they might create extra mechanical inefficiency that might generate just a little more.

One major difficulty with the current plethora of greenwashing panaceas is that many play fast and loose with the laws of thermodynamics and appear to encourage us to believe that energy can simply be conjured out of nothing.

Charles Bannerman, Inverness.

Barge row much ado about nothing

THE stushie over the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge is much ado about nothing.

Where were all the campaigners' concerns all the time oil rig workers have been living in older accommodation with fewer facilities after working a 12-hour shift out in the North Sea elements?

At the risk of sounding like a Monty Python sketch, when I worked offshore it was normal to live in four-berth cabins with three other workers, sharing the toilet and shower facilities with complete strangers from different parts of the country.

We now have a woke generation of mischief-making entitled cissies dictating what the Government shouldn't do while trying to stem the flow of illegal immigration, instead of providing solutions to a problem which is not of this country's making.

Allan Thompson, Bearsden.