Letters: Energy options to be explored, not feared

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IT is right to be cautious about fracking and to ensure that appropriate precautions are in place if the process is to fulfil its potential.

But Frank Ferri (Letters, September 4) goes a long way beyond rational considerations, as did Alison Johnstone before him (Letters, August 27).

He describes his standard as ‘zero contamination’. He warns against chemicals used in fracking and highlights hydrochloric acid – yet all of the dozen or so chemicals used in a typical fracking operation are used in his home or in his daily life.

For example, hydrochloric acid is used in swimming pools, guar gum is used in toothpaste and ice cream and ethylene glycol in the de-icer used by motorists in winter, to name but a few. And the total of these chemicals in a typical fracking operation make up around 0.49 per cent of the liquid used. I welcome reasonable precautions, but a bit of context will help prevent isolated facts becoming scaremongering.

Rather more concerning is the implication in his argument that, because oil rigs pose a risk (of course they do!), we should not extract oil. I can understand some Greens might want no oil – but back in the real world, does he really want the consequences, which would include more poverty, less national energy security and a host of other disadvantages?

Finally, Mr Ferri dismisses the US example of a dramatic reduction in prices. Maybe he will be proved right. But the early indications are of huge quantities of shale gas (and oil) in the UK which could have a very significant downward pressure on costs, not only in Europe but beyond. The “green” argument seems to be to despise any analysis of risk and just say no. A better way would be to explore the opportunities.

Cllr Cameron Rose, City Chambers, Edinburgh; Conservative Group Leader, Southside & Newington

Gallacher’s recovery is very good news

It’s grand news former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher is now in a stable condition in hospital (News, September 4).

The 64-year-old golf hero had been in a critical condition at Aberdeen’s Royal Infirmary after suffering a suspected heart attack. Doctors have now confirmed he is showing signs of improvement.

Bernard’s family has been at his bedside since he collapsed at a dinner in Aberdeen’s Marcliffe Hotel. My prayers and thoughts are with him and his family.

June Fleming, Hercus Loan, Musselburgh

Obama needs to spend at home not on Syria

By the time this letter is printed, the US will be either on its way to Syria or actually in Syria, armed to the teeth with God knows what.

Never mind the fact that the US cannot afford to get involved in Syria due to being over $17 trillion in debt, and never mind the fact that instead of helping their own people who are struggling to live and pay their bills, they would rather spend money that they don’t have in order to get involved in a conflict that is both unaffordable and unwinable.

The Americans should do what we did and tell Obama to shove this conflict up his backside and to spend money that he doesn’t have on his own people before he goes abroad with it.

Alan Lough, Boroughdales, Dunbar, East Lothian.

Morality is possible without religion

Stepping down as Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks discussed his time in the job on Sunday’s Radio 4 religious show.

In what was an earnest and honest interview he said that faith is the fabric which holds society together and that secularism is a destructive force.

It is certainly true that in days of old, religion was the steward of many social institutions, including what passed for a welfare state, but the church or synagogue no longer has this monopoly. It is entirely possible to feel empathy for our fellows without recourse to God.

Mr Sacks should not imagine that faith in humanity, hope and community cohesion revolve exclusively around religious belief.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive, Edinburgh

Describing fireworks as war zone goes too far

How sad to read that a minority of 100 cannot tolerate two periods of 15 minutes a year to allow 4000 people to enjoy themselves and a further 500+ children to benefit from the proceeds (News, September 4).

I have attended this event in Marchmont since its origin and I can reasure the objectors that we have never experienced the ground shake nor suffered any hearing loss as a result.

I also agreed with many of the supportive comments on your website that describing the effect of this event as “terrifying” and a “war zone” is at least inappropriate and at worst insulting to those who suffer daily bombings in real war zones.

This seems an over reaction for whatever reason and I am glad the council has considered the high number of local residents who attend and balanced this support against the minority who hide behind the mythical young and elderly, who have not complained, in order to further their own interests.

M P Mowatt, Edinburgh

Blairites want to trample on democracy

Just as I was thinking of supporting Labour again after their splendid vote on Syria, I learn that some of their Blairites want another vote.

Will the New Labour warmongers never learn? They want to trample on parliamentary democracy in order to drag Britain into yet another war.

If Labour votes for war they can kiss my vote goodbye.

B Tighe, Matson Court, The Bridle Path, Woodford Green, Spawater