IoS letters, emails & online postings (19 July, 2009)

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With the recent deaths of eight British soldiers in 24 hours, there is a vital need for a rethink of British strategy in Afghanistan, not just to refocus efforts, but also to convince people that the best strategy is being pursued.

After the Afghan elections next month, ministers must convince us that they have a proper strategy and a proper objective which has the likelihood of success. Clearly, lack of equipment, such as helicopters, is putting soldiers' lives at risk.

But a military solution is not enough. Perhaps most crucially we need development. As Britain's former ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock says, the Army has been "holding a wall up" in Helmand, but "no one has come along to build a buttress" of development.

What is required is a rethink that looks at all the options, and that will give people, not least our troops, the confidence that the right strategy is being pursued and is achievable.

Alex Orr

Edinburgh

***

Plans to tackle climate change in the Government's Renewable Energy Strategy are good news for Scotland, a nation which has struck gold in nature's lottery in terms of potential for delivering renewable energy.

Energy related opportunities presented by Scotland's natural capital have the potential to create tens of thousands of green jobs, providing a significant boost to the economy. Scotland can more than meet its electricity demands from renewable sources by 2020, becoming a net exporter of renewable energy, according to, the report "Power of Scotland Renewed" also published last week.

Achieving this "green vision" and ensuring security of supply will require the support of an upgraded energy grid to ensure the delivery of electricity from what tends to be sparsely populated rural and coastal areas to the urban populations of the central belt and elsewhere.

Like other wind-farm developers, we have been concerned about connection charges for accessing the grid, which makes some schemes uneconomical. The commitment from the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband to look at these concerns, is to be welcomed.

Scotland is in a leading position to demonstrate how the transition to a low-carbon economy can be undertaken, with a Scottish Government target of delivering 50 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020.

Tom Pottinger

Director, Baillie Wind Farm Ltd

Westfield, Caithness

***

It is interesting just how many reasons there are now to cut out meat ("The rise and rise of the vegetarian", 12 July). Certainly, animal welfare is the main reason for many people. Poultry, for example, endure immense suffering. As chickens' lives have got worse, so has the quality of the meat. Since 1970, the proportion of fat in a typical chicken has risen from 8.6 per cent to 23 per cent. It is no wonder that vegetarians are healthier than meat-eaters.

The British Medical Association report on "Diet, Nutrition and Health" concluded that "vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders and cancer and gallstones".

And now it is confirmed that eating meat is bad for the planet. The United Nations last year reported that "direct emissions from meat production account for about 18 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions", which is more than the entire transport sector.

It is time to stop eating meat.

Richard Mountford

Development Manager, Animal Aid

Tonbridge, Kent

***

The needless loss of life and the blatant cruelty to animals in the Pamplona bull run, coupled with the stupidity of the people taking part and the unnecessary demands on the resources of the medical emergency crews are reasons enough to stop this cruel spectacle.

I feel sorry for the bereaved family, but people taking part do so at their own risk, and by their own decisions. My sympathy lies with the animals who are forced to run this course and who are tortured by stupid callous humans.

It debases humankind and it should be ended immediately.

Bernie Wright

Alliance for Animal Rights

Dublin

***

In "Impressionism – the dawn of a revolution", (12 July), Charles Darwent rightly notes that "painting and politics went hand in hand". But what is truly forward-looking in Monet is his move from the tradition of modelling form and space in literal, local colour, as in his 1864 coastal view at Sainte-Adresse, to his use of invented colour in his later art (haystacks, Rouen cathedral etc). This links to Vermeer and Turner. It uses colour optically and spatially – not as an arbitrary addition or afterthought in design, but as integral to it, and as a dynamic structure, like an ecology. It presages our new age of green awareness and politics.

David Rodway

Woldingham, Surrey

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (no attachments, please); fax: 020-7005 2627; online: www.independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2009/July/19

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