Why we need a 'green' Fellow

CHILD eco-warriors make good television. They rev up the argument with their simplicity and its hard for any adult to gainsay them for fear of 'death' by desktop revolutionaries on social media. But they do not make good policy-makers – but then again, neither do some adults.

The whole debate surrounding climate change, carbon capture and what can necessarily be done, needs to be super-charged with facts. And those are hard to come by, despite spending huge amounts of time and money on research in this area. The suspicion is that much of that research has been done to prove what someone has already decided!

There are so many 'facts' that someone heard down the pub, dollops of fake news – even presented as 'facts' on respected television news channels – a veritable flock of social media spoutings, plus downright lies bandied about, that it is hard for anyone to get a proper handle on what can actually be done to make our air and land sweeter. And for it to remain the source of healthy and wholesome food that, quite frankly, we seem to have too much of. A hungry person would not question whether a diesel-powered tractor had tilled the soil, as opposed to an electric or hydrogen one?

Sequestration of carbon by grassland is one case in point. I do not think I have heard the same answer from any two different sources on this crucial question, a definitive answer to which might give succour to an agricultural industry damned by hearsay and bias.

Burns wrote that 'facts are chiels that winna ding' and NFU Scotland is to be congratulated on its appointment of a Fellow with specialist knowledge of the 'green' debate. What we all need – and for good or bad – is to ascertain the truth about exactly which agricultural practices will allow us to reach that Holy Grail of being carbon neutral as decreed by government.

But these facts must be incontrovertible and immune to 'spin' by those who do not agree with them – and herein lies the rub, can we trust our politicians not to bend this to their own will, as they have done with referendums?

Last week, there was a call at the 'Red meat in crisis' meeting, in Thainstone, for the industry as a whole to take up the cudgels against the doomsayers of agriculture and those who have denigrated red meat in particular as a 'dirty' product. The problem is that, thus far, we have little in our cerebral armoury that is beyond question that we can defend ourselves with.

That is why the NFUS' 'green' Fellow is so important.