Leading article: The dilemma of global warming

Share
Related Topics

The difficult decisions in life are not between right and wrong but between two, or more, conflicting rights. Nowhere is this better illustrated than by the case of the massive onshore wind farm for which the Scottish Government has just refused planning permission on the Isle of Lewis.

The decision required the striking of a balance between a number of issues, all of which could be said to point persuasively in countervailing directions. The need of a remote rural community for hundreds of extra jobs is clear, which is why the plan had the backing of the local authority and the region's businesses. But so is the importance of preserving biodiversity in a Peatlands Special Protection Area known for its rare and endangered birds. The principle of subsidiarity decrees that decisions should be taken at the lowest level possible consonant with good government, which means that Edinburgh was right to take into account the 11,000 official objections made to the wind farm proposal, many of them from local people. But equally the need to increase the amount of energy generated from renewable sources is an increasingly pressing one.

Politics is about taking hard decisions. Scottish ministers argue that it is possible to say "No" in this case and still be committed to a target of generating 50 per cent of Scotland's electricity from renewables by 2020. But there can be no doubt that turning down this 650-megawatt wind farm, which has already been six years in the planning, makes that task trickier.

There can, of course, be other ways of creating jobs, though those who turned down the plan must now say how that employment should be created. And though the scientific evidence demonstrates that, so long as sensible precautions are taken, wind-farm developments can take place on peat bogs, perhaps it is true that the proposed 181 turbines would have devastated the peatlands and the rare birdlife. It is, in the end, right that it should be local people who make the decision.

But what we all have to guard against is thinking globally, but acting like "nimbys" when it comes to local matters. Many of us are all too liable to talk passionately about climate change over dinner and then go off to book the cut-price airline tickets for our next foreign holiday.

What we all have to face up to – and the people of the Western Isles are not exempted from this – is the fact that if we keep dodging difficult decisions locally then global warming will continue apace. Inevitably we will then all pay the price. And the rare birds and peatlands of the Isle of Lewis will not be spared.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test