Scotland has a proud tradition of intellectual freedom and scientific leadership dating back to the 18th century Enlightenment when Edinburgh truly was the ‘Athens of the North’.
An essential belief of that era was that politicians must not dictate the boundaries of scientific research and, in its salad days, Holyrood appointed a leading scientist to act as adviser.
The St Andrews University physics professor Wilson Sibbett was an ideal appointee and in 2001 he advised that fracking had changed the energy scene much to Scotland’s advantage.
Huge shale reserves in the Central Lowlands and South Fife meant power could be produced in highly populated areas and the gas pumped directly under the Forth into Grangemouth.
Until there was a breakthrough in electricity storage, which he warned was decades away, wind farms and their transmission clutter would be a costly, environmental blunder.
He also advised that Scotland become Europe’s leading innovator in GM crops but sadly our scientifically-challenged politicians chose to do exactly the opposite in both fields.
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