CAPTAIN James T Kirk has headed into space once more. The 90-year-old has gone where very few nonagenarian will ever go.

This story, had it happened 40 years ago when climate change was not visible to us all with our eyes open, would have been quite engaging. How things have changed, and the global economy has taken us to the verge of an unknown part of the universe where urgent environmental action is now required.

Stepping back to reality, we have on our own Planet A an area in the Pacific about which we know little, which within two years could be the subject of deep-sea mining.

The island of Nauru, the third smallest country with population nearly 11,000, has stated it will grant a permit to a subsidiary of Canadian mining company The Metals Company, to mine an area 5,000 meters down for coal-sized nodules containing valuable minerals. They occur across the vast abyssal plain, called the Clarion Clipperton Zone.

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What species are down there?

The effect on the species down there is a “Donald Rumsfeld” or an “unknown unknown”, but we do know what happened, does happen, to scallop beds when they are scraped clean by dredging. Everything goes or dies.

We don’t know what species exist, or what chemistry they use to live at such pressures and low temperatures. How do they optimise their oxygen use? How will they be protected, so that the mining operation will not create a toxic environment?

Will the deep sea currents be affected? If yes, how will it impact us?

We all also know what happens when the market is let lose with no enforceable regulation, and I cite social media and Instagram in particular as an example. We had the financial crash of 2008 caused by unregulated financial institutions. Further back, in the 1720s the South Sea Bubble again was driven by uncontrolled greed, in that occasion using slaves as the product.

The lessons learned are – survey the area; investigate the species found; test the proposal; define the regulations; independent monitoring of the independently sourced data.

Investigating this under-investigated zone of our own planet – isn’t this an area, where our technologists could flex their brains and finance?

This needs a global agreement, rather than permission from a small island that could be submerged in 20 years.

There is no Planet B.

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus

I SEE climate change protesters are demonstrating against development of the oil fields around Shetland. I’m not sure why they are bothering as I’m sure I recall being told prior to the 2014 independence referendum that there is no oil there. Can it be true that the Unionists lie to Scots about our capacity to prosper as an independent nation state?

Ni Holmes
St Andrews

IN her article in Tuesday’s paper Emma Guinness states that being a woman and young seems to have something to do with the harassment over her use of the Scots language in her writing (Unionist absue of female Scots writers must stop – we need women’s voices, Oct 12). First, this is terrible. Second I don’t understand why this happens.

Those awful trolls – for that seems to be what they are – distress their targets, which is unforgivable. They also anger many Scots language speakers while appearing as the narrow-minded, utter fools they are. Misogyny also seems to raise its ugly head as well and that is disturbing, particularly in today’s climate.

As a Scots writer myself and a woman, I have used both English and Scots in all my books. So far without being nailed down as a fool.

Emma was asked why she used the Scots in her book. “Because that’s how the characters speak,” was her answer. I totally relate to this, as all the dialogue in all my books is done that way to achieve a sense of reality. In fact it just seems obvious. Indeed this has actually drawn approval from well-known reviewers in national newspapers.

Mibbe ah’m ower auld a wummin, scrievin aboot hauf-forgotten history that maist think disna maitter. Mibbe ah jist huvna been noticed by they awfy folk.

Whitivver it is, ah’ve been lucky.

I hope this unwarranted attack does NOT put any other Scots women writers, young or old, off doing their own thing. Indeed it must not.

Ethyl Smith
via email

GEORGE Kerevan gives us a timely warning in his latest column (Why the crisis in Lebanon is a cautionary tale, October 11). Scotland has already experienced what he is warning us about. Remember the catastrophe the Royal Bank of Scotland brought upon itself with its ambition to be one of the largest banks in the world? There is a full account of this in Ian Fraser’s book Shredded. An independent Scotland would need to regulate its banks’ activities.

Ian Johnston
via email