NOW and again, there is an edition of The National that makes me want to comment on more than one article. Tuesday was just such an edition. Let me take them in the order they appear. You will notice that only one of them refers to the current brouhaha experienced in London as several privileged and elitist bullies vie for the position of being able to field their own nest without fear of criticism – that of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
First: On page ten there is Anne McLaughlin’s article (Indy Scotland will have the right priorities – unlike the Tories). This answered a question for me. Last week, I received a sum of money, directly deposited in my bank by the DWP. It was marked “COL”. Since it was a substantial amount, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a mistake before using it. However, Anne’s article answered it by making me understand that “COL” stands for cost of living.
But that raises another question. It wasn’t £650; it was £326. Does that mean my cost of living is half that of others? Can I go to Morrisons and ask for a 50% discount as the government has obviously considered that I only have to pay half of what everyone else is paying? I do not think so. So where is the other half of my cost of living payment?
READ MORE: Devolved nations send joint letter on cost of living
Second: the article on page 14, “Minister warns that ocean crisis is ‘existential’”. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Yes, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but that will not solve the problem by itself. There is a book by Sean B Carroll, award-winning scientist and professor of molecular biology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin, called The Rules of the Serengeti: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters.
It describes various ecological experiments to find out how ecosystems work – from the Arctic to Africa, ending with an analysis of the Serengeti and how it recovered from the devastation caused by cattle disease. It is a “must read” for anyone interested in global warming and its solution. Particularly relevant to our current situation is the description of an experiment conducted at Mukkaw Bay on the Pacific coast in Washington State by Robert Paine, professor of zoology at Washington State University. Page 111 of the book describes the thriving community of colorful sea creatures that existed in the tidal pools there. From algae and larvae to crabs, small fish, mussels and barnacles – and starfish, which were the main predators.
READ MORE: Scotland’s temperature topped 35C on hottest day ever, Met Office says
Paige removed the top predators from one tank and left another, further up the coast, as a witness. He threw all the starfish that were in a pool as far as he could into the ocean. In one year, the species in this pond had been reduced by half and in five years, there were only bare rocks covered with barnacles and mussels, which had invaded the whole territory and eaten all the food.
On this planet, we are barnacles and mussels. We take over all the territory and other species die because of the destruction of their habitat. Not only that, but we also cause so much pollution that the planet can no longer cope with it and is slowly being destroyed by our greed – like the oxygen-producing algae in the Atlantic that died.
There were once predators that controlled our numbers – just like the starfish that controlled the mussels in the rock pool. In our case, it was germs and viruses that caused occasional plagues and illnesses and kept the planet’s population at around 1.5 to 2 billion until the end of the 19th century. Then we learned about vaccines and antibiotics, and were able to throw starfish out of our pool. Today, there are approximately 7.5 to 8 billion humans on the planet, and as this number grows, the situation will only get worse. We can’t bring back the disease, but we really need to limit the number of humans. Perhaps mandatory birth control should be seen as a solution. Not very appetizing but probably necessary.
Finally, pages 26 and 27 of the letters pages and Penny Mordaunt’s comment about England having to celebrate Rabbie Burns to get things right between them and Scotland. Well, I have news for her. There are Burns clubs all over Russia, but they have not improved Russia’s behavior towards Ukraine. I don’t think they would improve Westminster’s behavior towards us!