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Energy and climate change
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Where should the balance lie between different energy sources such as coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable, like wind power? Where is the greatest scope for energy efficiency?

The Scottish Executive has a target that 18% of Scotland's electricity should be from renewable sources by 2010. Wind farms and solar heating are more acceptable forms of power for a sustainable energy future, but they have some drawbacks. Are we prepared for the change of landscape and visual impact from, say, 1 00 wind farms of 50 turbines, each which might be needed to replace one large coal or nuclear power station? How should businesses lead the way in using alternative forms of energy?

As individuals we need to cut our dependency on finite resources and reduce our energy consumption. But is it really worth switching off TVs, hi fis and computers rather than just leaving them in stand by mode? Can we make a difference by simply switching off lights in rooms not being used? Should we insist on energy labelling on electrical appliances such as fridges? Does loft insulation really make a difference? The whole area is complex. How should we be able to find out what to do and what will make us change?

Perhaps the most obvious indication of our unsustainable lives is climate change and this could have significant impact on Scotland-wilder wetter weather, more flooding. One of the main factors behind climate change is the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change predicts an average global temperature rise of up to 6 degrees by the end of the century. This is expected to cause increased storms and flooding in Scotland, and we are starting to see evidence that this may already be happening. The main factors effecting carbon dioxide emission are burning fossil fuels, including transport fuels, and various farming practices. Reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases has to be a priority, but we also need to use our finite resources more effectively. The Executive has produced a Climate Change Programme for Scotland. What else can be done to ensure that Scotland makes its contribution to tackling this global problem?

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