Observations from Bonnie Scotland

I’m back from my holiday and feeling compelled to put fingers to the keyboard again to share my thoughts and experiences.

What a fantastic holiday it was.  As a silver wedding celebration, my wife Lisa and I decided to go off on a ‘grand tour’ of Scotland.  In keeping with our desire to minimise our contribution to global warming, we made the whole trip by either train or ferry.

My first observation is how wonderful it was to be able to just stop and look out of the window.  That truly is food for the soul and something you don’t experience when flying or driving (or at least the driver shouldn’t!).

Then there were the chance encounters with random strangers that this type of travelling encourages.  We had some wonderful conversations with lovely people simply because we were sitting on a train with nowhere else to be and nothing pressing to do.  All very life affirming in this fast paced, complex world.  People are fundamentally nice when given the opportunity to relax and get away from their screens.

Scotland is a place of big wide-open spaces and scenic grandeur, but even Scotland has tourist hot spots that were very busy and getting busier as the world warms.  We were struck by how many European tourists we met along the way, something that’s clearly already being influenced by the dangerously high temperatures experienced in Southern Europe.  I am in no doubt that this trend is going to increase rapidly, so the Scottish tourist industry is going to need to gear up accordingly.

I couldn’t write about my experiences in Scotland without mentioning the country’s green energy production endeavours.  We spent a morning at the Pitlochry dam visitor experience where we learnt about the great strides Scotland has already taken in producing energy from renewable sources – wind, solar, wave and biomass, as well as hydro – and the ingenuity going into future developments.  I was particularly struck by the idea of utilising surplus energy to pump water back up to a higher loch, where it can be stored ready to generate hydro-electric power again when that power is needed – effectively the higher loch becomes a natural battery storage system with no lithium or other rare resources required.

Scotland has a long history of producing some of the world’s greatest thinkers and innovators – Alexander Fleming, Adam Smith, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell to name but a few – so perhaps we should look to our friends in the northern reaches of the British Isles to help the world climb out of the global warming crisis. Scotland is setting the tone that we need the rest of the world to follow (could do better on recycling though – I think someone needs to have a word!).