Readers’ Letters: Storm hysteria is fanning the flames of fear


A pedestrian takes a selfie with the wind-damaged roof of The O2 Arena, in London after Storm Eunice battered the country

The practice of named storm warnings was introduced in 2014 to “make people more aware of them and how dangerous they can be” and was modeled on the US National Hurricane Center’s initiative in the 1950s to forewarn of potentially life threatening and severely destructive weather systems. Only on rare occasions in the UK, such as the recent Storm Arwen, is this process fully justified.

This is not to belittle the human and financial consequences or recent turbulent weather but by applying it to what are routinely unsettled weather systems dilutes the massage and treats us like children in constant need of care, guidance and reassurance.

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Storm Eunice: These 20 Edinburgh pictures from the 1950s and 1960s show the Cap…

We are frequently reminded that “extreme weather events” are becoming more prevalent due to human-induced climate change. This is reinforced in the minds of many by dramatic images of thunderous seas, surging floodwaters, uprooted trees and patched, fire-ravaged landscapes. Such extremes are really nothing new.

Increasing levels of CO2 are seen as the prime driver of such events but these planetary woes have more to do with our ever growing population, demand on resources, deforestation, overgrazing and settlement in inappropriate areas.

At one time the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concurred that there was no significant global upward trend in storm frequency, droughts or floods. Their interpretation shifted recently with peculiarly worded predictions that ranged from “low confidence” to “very likely” between a 66 per cent and 99 per cent band of probability. This is based on multiple climate computer models which fail to factor in many variables and present alarming worst case scenarios.By redefining certain criteria, bad weather events become storms, thus fanning the flames of fear and false perceptions.

Neil J Bryce, Kelso, Scottish Borders

April Fools Day seems to have come early this year. RenewableUK, the voice of the wind and solar power industry, is always keen to demonstrate that there is overwhelming public support for the development of onshore windfarms, as it does with its new poll (Scotsman, 22 February), despite increasingly vocal protests from host communities and environmentalists concerned about the damage caused to peat lands, birds and other wildlife.

Their last poll, conducted by YouGov, did not define either how many turbines comprise a wind farm or how high the turbines would be. There’s a slight difference between a 15m and 260m turbine at the bottom of your garden. Scottish rural respondents were not within 2km, but 8km (5 miles) of a wind farm. This distance is likely to include rural residents who receive “community benefit” from the wind farm developer, but are too far away to suffer any direct adverse impact, as well as landowners who are financially involved in the wind farm.

The membership of the campaign group Scotland Against Spin has more than doubled in the last two years as more wind farms are built ever closer to homes and more people become aware of the downside of living beside or surrounded by them.

Do Renewables UK actually expect us to believe this latest survey, which is not even open to scrutiny as there is currently no reference to it on the Survation website?

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

Messrs Grodynski and Grant bemoan the lack of funding provided to our winter sports teams to compete against our Norwegian counterparts (Letters, 23 February).

I’m afraid they fail to mention the basic ingredients to success in skiing, skating and other alpine sports.

Snow and Ice are plentiful in the Arctic Circle and access to that is easy in Norway. Our snow sports centers are badly serviced when snow arrives… our roads are blocked.

Och lets blame Westminster for that.

Alan Macdonald, Dalkeith, Midlothian

Murdo Fraser’s “memory” of the protest against Nick Robinson’s reporting of his questioning of Alex Salmond (Scotsman, 23 February) is different from mine. I watched the relevant press conference live on the BBC, and Nick Robinson’s report of it during BBC News at Six the same day, and I also recall the BBC’s reporting of the subsequent demonstration at BBC Pacific Quay.

Checking my memory through online searches, I found BBC Scotland’s report on 14 September, 2014 of the protest, including an overhead photo of the crowd. In this the BBC says “A large crowd gathered outside BBC Scotland’s Glasgow HQ to protest about coverage of the referendum. Police said up to 1,000 people took part”. There is no mention of a mob. Or of torches and pitchforks.

The press conference took place on 11 September, 2014. YouTube shows that Nick Robinson asked Alex Salmond two questions, one on RBS and a general one on comments of business leaders, and that Alex Salmond answered both. This confirms my memory, as does the YouTube clip from the same day’s News at Six of Nick Robinson saying “He didn’t answer”. It was this incorrect statement that led to people protesting peacefully.

Nick Robinson has since said on Twitter that he phrased his report badly. Murdo Fraser should check before he writes to avoid phrasing badly.

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

Would the simple answer to Murdo Fraser’s article about IndyRef2 be to partition Scotland between Yes and No supporters as the present political position is simply leading to a managed decline in the Scottish economy.

Surely half a loaf is better than no bread and it would at least allow both sides to focus on repaying the massive debts required to finance a green transition.

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway

Murdo Fraser’s column focuses on the SNP administration and its avoidance of truth. Whilst agreeing wholeheartedly with him, I do feel he should also have a good look at Boris Johnson’s record on being “economical with the actualité”.

Between them, the SNP and the Tories have brought into disrepute the meaning of public service, souring and making the electorate cynical, to the detriment of our democratic system.

EP Carruthers, Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway

Thank goodness for people such as Andy Davey and his letter about sequential time (Scotsman, 23 February).

All other letters are full of doom and gloom and there in the middle is the true Scottish outlook on life – the peculiarity of time and date. It quite made my day and has added to my faith in human nature.

Charles Lowson, Fareham, Hants

Vladimir Putin should not be blamed for the Ukraine crisis, which represents a failure of Western diplomacy over three decades.

British people separated from our enemies by seas and oceans have no understanding how the long, fluid borders of that vast country give Russians a very different view of security from us or the Americans. Our country has not been repeatedly on the receiving end of huge hostile armies.

Putting that aside, Russia has a legitimate interest in protecting the Russian minority which predominates in the rebel regions and in the Crimea. Furthermore, the Ukraine has no historic claim to the Crimea, which was only administratively transferred to it by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s.

We should not forget that the 2014 Euromaidan revolution, which triggered the current division of the Ukraine, involved the overthrow of an elected president, not a dictator. Nor should we ignore the fact that the US State Department, the German Foreign Ministry and Western NGOs, notably the Open Society Foundation, sponsored the opposition and that revolution. The real way out of this crisis is by negotiation. The two sides must agree to a new border, which recognizes the Crimea and the Eastern areas which have seceded as Russian. On their side, the Russians must renounce further claims on Ukraine. Also, Ukraine must agree to neutrality between Nato and Russia.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Once again there is a feeling that sport is separate from politics as rugby and football are silent on the question of sanctions.

Why not be quite clear – any sport that allows the participation of Russian teams will face immediate sanctions, including withdrawal of all tax perks and government support and recognition.

If you want Russian money then limit yourself and your team/sport to compete only in Russia.

James Watson, Dunbar, East Lothian

On my very busy train from Edinburgh to Glasgow yesterday around 50 per cent of passengers appeared to be exempt from the requirement to wear masks, making public transport an even more desirable way to travel.

A trial I was due to conduct this week in the High Court in Edinburgh has had to be adjourned because my client has Covid. Visits to clients in Saughton and Greenock Prisons today could not take place because my clients are isolating.

This would appear to be an ideal time to drop all restrictions against the transmission of Covid, it seems to have all but disappeared…

Iain McSporran QC, Edinburgh

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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