Your picture of the week
The sun was setting when Curtis Welsh captured this image of a standing stone at Bemersyde, Melrose.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
DEMOCRACY IN AN UNEQUAL UNION
At the end of this month, people in Scotland are going to lose their EU citizenship and the right to travel, work and settle freely throughout the European Union.
Whatever your views about the EU, Scotland voted heavily in favour of retaining our status as European citizens, yet that is being stripped from us. If we are to lose the status of European citizens, democracy demands that it should be as a result of a decision made by people in Scotland.
But that’s not what is happening.
People in Scotland are losing the status of European citizens because people in another country voted to make it happen. We’re not leaving the EU, we are being dragged unwillingly out of the door while our protests are ignored.
And for what? A blue passport? That, unfortunately, is what passes for democracy in an unequal union.
ROUGH RIDE FOR ROAD USERS
I urge Scottish Borders Council’s road safety team to make and keep two New Year resolutions.
The first is listening to and heeding public concerns about road safety in areas such as Langlee Drive and Windyknowe in Galashiels. Brushing aside these concerns is not what is expected from a road safety team.
Secondly, the Borders has the second-worst rated roads in Britain due to potholes, ruts and lack of maintenance.
Hundreds of Borders road users like myself have been and are being hit with expensive repair bills because of damaged suspension, shock absorbers and steering mechanisms. I have recently been landed with my third, and the chances of compensation are nigh impossible.
Not only are these costs unacceptable, a vehicle with damaged suspension and steering is a danger not only to the occupants of the vehicle, but also to other road users.
LOOKING INTO MY LIVING ROOM
You ran a story last week about planning permission being granted for housing behind Jedward Terrace, Denholm, with the council disregarding any complaint.
I live at No. 2 and my house is back to front with a large double window which is my living room’s.
If building goes ahead I will have four bedroom windows looking direct into my living room.
I am appealing the decision, but do not hold much hope because this is a classic case of ‘We do what we want’.
WHAT IF SCEPTICS ARE RIGHT?
Imagine that Neil J. Bryce (letters, December 26), as he keeps repeating, is right and that the climate change we are experiencing is natural and not the result of burning fossil fuels.
That he and a few sceptics are right and all those climate scientists and the world consensus (even the Brexit party, for goodness sake) is wrong.
What then is the logic of his position? That we shouldn’t strive to keep fossil fuels in the ground? That we should allow greenhouse gases to increase? That we should continue with the ridiculous concept of eternal growth, using more and more resources, depleting natural ecosystems and polluting our environment? That we should outsource the problem to future generations?
What if we create a better, more socially just sustainable world and then realise that Mr Bryce was right all along?
Turning to the forest fires in Australia.
These are horrible, but complex in origin. A record Australian temperature of 47C was recorded last week. A contributory factor is likely to be human-induced global warming.
Eighteen of the 19 warmest years since records began have occurred since 2001. The highest temperatures in the UK for February, July and December were all in 2019. Over the last 150 years, CO2 levels have gone up from 280 to over 400 parts per million. The 1,300 independent scientists on the International Panel on Climate Change say that there is a 95% probability that human activities, largely the burning of fossil fuels, have been the cause of this.
We are in serious bother, which is why organisations like Greener Melrose and Extinction Rebellion, in our own small way, are trying to do something about it. We have to stop burning fossil fuels and move to renewables such as solar, wind, wave, tidal, heat pumps and wood as quickly as possible. Even nuclear power, with all its downsides, has a role to play in the climate emergency. This is not alarmist, it’s just true and life can go on without fossil fuels.
So, it is quite galling to read about Geoff Moore and his turkey (letters, January 2).
Christmas Day happened to coincide with a high-pressure weather feature and we all enjoyed the sunshine. Wind generation was low, but we still had solar and nuclear (and fossil fuels, of course).
For the future, we need to invest in wave and wind power, and in extra storage capacity for all renewables – this is coming.
We can electrolyse water in the windy times and burn hydrogen when the wind dies down (not often in Scotland). In fact Scotland is on target to raise 100% of its energy needs from renewables this year. We can be a leading green economy with many green jobs created.
That doesn’t solve all the world’s climate and species extinction issues of course.
I was proud to be part of the Extinction Rebellion Scottish Borders choir which regaled the councillors with green carols before Christmas. We were well received and it reinforced Scottish Borders Council’s own commitment to consider climate change with every piece of business.
We are in a climate emergency and call on SBC to recognise this officially as 15 other local authorities in Scotland have already done.
(A Greener Melrose)
LEFT-WING GREEN EXTREMISTS
I was given a copy of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s booklet, ‘No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference’, which contains 11 of her speeches.
In one of them she refers to her Asperger’s Syndrome which she explains only permits her to see issues in terms of black and white. Her speeches repeat the mantra that human emission of carbon dioxide is the sole cause of climate change. There are no references to the many natural forces of nature, historic natural climate variability or the influence of the sun.
But this is an accepted characteristic of her condition where, in spite of an enthusiastic and passionate grasp of a particular subject, there is an inability to consider multiple perspectives. These are features of Asperger’s Syndrome that are often described as “mind blindness” by therapists, a trait that equally seems to apply to climate alarmists.
It’s wrong that this young person’s challenging condition, youthful zeal, apparent inability to read between the lines and lack of worldly wisdom have been taken advantage of by vociferous left-wing green exremists.
They have presided over a transition from valid environmental concerns to the theory of global warming. When the warming phase stalled we got to the slightly more concerning concept of climate change, apparently responsible for every unusual weather event. Now we have their latest attempts to ratchet up fear and guilt by rebranding it as climate emergency, climate catastrophy or scorched Earth.
If they cared to consider, for example, that the life-giving CO2 “pollutant” comprises just 0.04% of our atmosphere of which part the human contribution is merely 3.8%, then maybe a few rays of enlightenment might enter their conciousness and encourage a new year resolution to open their minds and help to disperse the green smokescreen of falsehoods and needless alarm.
Neil J. Bryce
DISASTERS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN
Christian Aid has identified 15 of the most destructive droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and cyclones of 2019, each of which caused damage of more than £760m.
Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, tries to link this to climate change to make us feel guilty, but there have been natural disasters since the world began.
There have always been droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and cyclones, but the climate emergency brigade say it is getting worse to pursue their climate propaganda. What about earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and the seasonal typhoons and cyclones?
She mentions China and India, but they’re responsible for 36% of global emissions, refusing to curb them and still building coal-fired power plants and burning fossil fuel.
Ms Foster-Fulton might like to take her Christian Aid donation box there.
KEEPING CHECK ON SNP GOVERNMENT
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is an obsessive on Scottish independence and seems to be moving away from the big picture.
Conservatives now have the real power in Westminster and information received tells me that a serious check on Scotland’s exchequer spending is being organised due to the SNP government overspending on unnecessary loss-making new ventures.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said recently: “The Scottish Government’s financial reporting has taken a step backwards at a time when the uncertainty surrounding EU withdrawal will pose unprecedented challenges for the management of public finances.
“Parliament needs better information to be able to scrutinise ministers’ financial decision-making and to ensure value for money is achieved from a limited budget pot.”
It is time this able auditor is given freedom to forensically check Scottish Government spending and eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayers’ money before Westminster takes action.
MSP’S COLUMN UNDER FIRE
In her ‘View from Holyrood’ column on December 12, Rachael Hamilton MSP made a series of wild allegations, including that Jeremy Corbyn is “anti-Semitic”.
I challenged that allegation in my letter published on December 19, writing: “If Mrs Hamilton wants to avoid getting a reputation for peddling disinformation, she needs to provide evidence that Mr Corbyn is ‘anti-Semitic’, or retract her allegation.”
Mrs Hamilton has failed to provide any evidence to support her allegation, and has failed to retract the allegation. I conclude that she accepts that her column is a provider of disinformation.
The Southern is a valued and trusted source of local news with a readers’ charter saying: “This newspaper is built on a tradition of accuracy and fairness, giving you the information you need to understand our world, holding power to account and exposing injustice.”
Rachael Hamilton’s false allegations and disinformation do not deserve a column in The Southern.
TAKE STEPS TO TACKLE CANCER
What’s your New Year resolution?
If you’re looking to take up running or aiming for a new personal best, and you want to do it whilst helping to save lives, then we’ve got a challenge for you.
This January, Bowel Cancer UK is launching Challenge 2020 – a virtual run you can take at your own pace. All abilities are welcome, whether you’re a keen runner or a complete beginner. Take on our 16km, 42km or 268km challenge in your own time. Run, jog or walk the distance in a day, a week, a month or before April 30.
A total of around 16,000 die from this disease every year in the UK.
But with your help, we can change this and stop people dying of bowel cancer by funding vital services and life-saving research. You can pound the pavements, jog on a treadmill or walk in the park. Your distance, your reason, your challenge.
Sign up today on Bowel Cancer UK’s website: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/challenge2020
(presenter, Countryfile and Good Morning Britain)
Many of your readers will know at least one of the 250,000 children and adults in the UK with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) – though they may not see the devastating toll this serious neurological condition can take.
A lack of research means that we don’t yet know the cause, or have an effective treatment – but a large, planned genetic study could change that. With scientists and patients working together, the ME/CFS Biomedical Partnership is applying for funding to test DNA samples from 20,000 people with ME.
Readers can show their support for this potentially game-changing biomedical research and sign-up for updates at www.mebiomed.org.uk/get-involved
Action for ME
A WALKERBURN TRADITION
Would you be so kind as to express our appreciation and thanks to Lisa Ditchburn and Carol (her mother) of Walkerburn Cafe, ideally placed at the corner on the A72, for hosting us following our walking tour of the village singing carols on the evening of December 22.
A wonderful warm welcome awaited us with delicious home baking (thanks also to Raymond Keddie’s light touch), hot drinks and the opportunity to meet as locals to sing more carols, along with a story and a prayer (thanks to the Rev. Canon Cedric Blakey and Robin Wilson).
Lisa has recently taken over the café and the staff, so it was especially notable that the family were prepared to support us in continuing this popular Walkerburn village tradition.
We are most grateful.