Letters to the editor – 29.8.19

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Phone boxes removal

It is shocking news that British Telecom has proposed removing 110 public pay phones from across the Highlands.

But for the landmark of a telephone kiosk many people in remote communities would be shut off from the world. Through it they can reach their families, their friends, medical and emergency services and have all the support of a modern society.

It is a service that British Telecom should be constantly improving and one of the ways now and in the future it should continue to help people. In the out of the way places of a push button world British Telecom should be the power behind the buttons.

Leslie Mutch, Dingwall.

Beef consumption clarity

The recent statement by the United Nations that beef consumption should
be reduced to prevent excess greenhouse gases, in particular methane,
from entering the atmosphere is on the whole correct.  However, this
should have been quantified and not taken literally at face value.  In
countries such as the USA where there is an overconsumption per capita
of beef much of this is reared in what is know as cattle lots.  In this
system of beef production large numbers of cattle are penned up and fed
grain such as wheat and maize.  This in effect adds another level in
what is known as the biotic pyramid between primary production and the
finished product.  To simplify this it means that for every tonne of
beef produced ten tonnes of grain have to be supplied.  This grain would
have given more nutrition to the human race had it been made into bread
rather than beef.  It also means that vast areas of arable land are
being used to produce this beef without the cattle ever having been able
to roam freely, beef produced in this manner contains little in the form
of trace elements and the other things we associate with giving flavour
to beef.  In other words it is a low grade product.

In the case of Brazil vast areas of rainforest have been cleared to
produce grazing, this in turn reduces the ability of the rainforest to
act as an absorbent for excess CO2, so beef from this source is also
highly detrimental to the health of our planet.

Here in Britain, in particular Scotland, the system of rearing beef is
very different.  In the Highlands of Scotland beef is produced on
grazing land which is neither suitable for grain production nor viable
as forestry.  Therefore, as a food source it is best used for grazing
cattle.  Not only does this produce a high grade and sustainable
product, it is causing little damage to the wellbeing of our native
breeds of cattle.  Beef fed in this manner is undoubtedly the best way
in which we can use our natural resource and no one should feel guilty
about eating beef labelled as produced in the UK on grass.

No one can argue that an overall reduction in the number of cattle being
produced worldwide would benefit the biosphere, however the real problem
is without doubt the number of human beings now living on this planet.
It would have been better if the UN had issued a statement that having
less children would be beneficial rather than telling us to reduce our
beef eating habit.

Professor Eric McVicar, Lecturer in Sustainable Ecology
Strontian

Water fountains

Hats off to Scottish Water who have provided the Your Water Your Life water fountain beneath the clock tower in Station Square, Oban, that is now a very welcome, well-used facility.

How about another one in Oban, on Stafford Street, where people like to congregate and sit, or Lochgilphead by the cenotaph.

Not only are these welcome public facilities, but they are really a good advertisment for a natural Scottish product that we all take for granted.

Stephen Jones, Oban

Plane travel not good for environment

Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of Hitrans and chairman of Highland Council environment, development and infrastructure committee, recently said: ‘There is a very clear message that improved and guaranteed air connectivity is critical to the future economy of the Highlands and Islands.’

Unfortunately he has somehow missed the even clearer message that we are faced with a climate change emergency, and that an economy reliant on more aeroplanes is not a good idea just now.

Tom Stephens

by email