A stark contrast still between Scotland and Eastern Europe and Russia with a harvest story of over abundant moisture in one and a drought in the other! In both arenas yields have been good, where the right inputs have been applied, as they have in Ireland too. This will sadly not help prices, although Chinese demand for grain and soya imports remains stronger than for metal commodities! The Chinese currently lease almost 10% of Ukrainian arable land. The weakness of the rouble and increases in the Eastern harvest output will have an adverse impact on prices.
While it is standard practice for politicians to blame their opponents for all embarrassing events, it is disingenuous of Mr Ewing to attribute all responsibility for the impending closure of Longannet to the present Westminster government, and particularly so to imply some responsibility to the early closure of the ROC subsidy scheme. (Scottish Government press release)
An Ecomodernist manifesto has recently been published by 18 prominent greens. Its 84 statements are a radical departure from traditional environmentalism which it rejects. Humanity it states must shrink its environmental impacts to provide more space for nature. This view is incompatible with traditional environmentalist policy of accommodating mankind within the natural world. Nature will not be protected by increasing human dependence upon it more so because the human population is expected to increase not decrease.
It may have escaped your notice but 2015 is the UN “Year of the Soil”, a crucial resource we largely take for granted. It is a miracle that we can capture energy from a distant star via plants and convert it into usable forms upon which all Life depends. There are mountains of research and columns on climate change, but little written about greater threats to us in the interlinking areas of food, water and energy security. These present a more compelling narrative of need and crisis for us as a species than that of climate change.
The UK and the Scottish Governments are taking action to seek to reduce CO2 emissions and to reduce dependency on fossil fuel. The main strategy to achieve these goals is to substitute energy from fossil fuel by energy from renewable sources. The problem with the way that this strategy is being implemented is that the technical difficulties, the potential economic outcomes and the degree to which the goals can be achieved are not being reliably addressed.
There has been much discussion recently about the unintended consequences of certain decisions, actions, or lack of action, regarding UK energy policy.
Last autumn extensive media attention was devoted to the possibility of power cuts over the winter. That prompted me to look at the sequence of events leading to a once great engineering nation not having a reliable electricity generation and distribution system.
Renewables use sun, water, wind; energy sources that won’t run out. Non-renewables come from things like gas, coal and uranium that one day will. But unless electricity and motorised transport is abandoned altogether, all ‘renewables’ need huge areas of land or sea and require raw materials that are drilled, transported, mined, bulldozed and these will run out.
The Holyrood parliament does not have formal responsibility for energy policy in Scotland. However it does have control of general planning. Further, the owners of Scotland’s conventional electricity generation capacity have currently no incentive to expand it. These factors have enabled Holyrood effectively to take control of all new energy developments. This has already resulted in the construction or consent of renewable capacity to meet the more than 96% of the SNP's 2020 target of the “equivalent of 100% of Scottish electricity consumption.
The Sunday Herald recently published a letter claiming that Scotland needs more control over its energy policies to escape from those advocated by the "English" government. Its writers appear to share a number of commonly held misunderstandings which require refuting.
The Land Reform Review Group’s proposals for radical change in the ownership of land in Scotland published at the end of May this year are of no small consequence. Two years in the gestation and fraught with much politicking, their report included a proposal for the absolute right to buy for some agricultural tenants, those few thousand individuals holding secure ‘91 Act tenancies.