I NOTICED on page six of Tuesday’s National that you intimate the launching of carbon storage licensing. Since the chemical formula for carbon dioxide, which is what is going to be stored, is CO2, should the government not for once be honest and announce the “oxygen storage licensing launch”?

After all the formula quite clearly indicates that for each atom of carbon, there are two atoms of oxygen in every molecule of carbon dioxide. It’s Carbon dioxide that’s to be pumped underground! That means we will store underground twice as much oxygen as carbon. The stupid thing about that policy is we need oxygen to breathe to keep us alive. We can’t breathe it if it’s locked away under the North Sea.

Nature has the perfect way of taking carbon out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis in plants. Therefore, that’s where we should be storing as much carbon as possible – in trees.

Trees take in carbon dioxide through the pores in their leaves and extract the carbon from it. They use the carbon to make the wood for their own growth and release the oxygen back into the atmosphere. That’s where we need it – in the air that we breathe! Not stuck away in a hole below the North Sea.

Our local council has adopted a policy of not replacing trees that are blown over in storms or that become diseased, they also are cutting down many healthy trees to lower the cost of having to look after them.

The governments of the world are kidding themselves, and us, if they honestly believe that there is any possibility of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. There is every likelihood that the population of our planet will have grown by about one third by then. That will be an extra two billion people – all wanting cars, and heating, and plane and train trips for their holidays etc. It will also be another two billion pairs of lungs wanting to breathe in oxygen. Alas a big percentage of that is going to be stuck underground where they can’t get at it.

Is it only when we start to run out of necessities, like the oxygen we intend storing away, that we are going to consider critical questions that we should really be finding answers for now?

Our planet is finite. Once we run out of iron ore, there will be no more metal for reinforcing high buildings, or for the manufacture of cars or buses or planes. What do we do then? Once we have built on all the agricultural land, where will we grow plants for food? How will we feed ourselves? These may not be pertinent questions today, but in 50 years’ time they may not only be pertinent, they may be critical!

They may seem stupid questions at the moment because we, in Scotland, are living with plenty. But there are places in the world where shortages are already happening.

Tribesmen in Africa are running out of land on which to graze their livestock. So they are starting to encroach on wildlife reserves. We only hear about this because they are causing severe reductions in the numbers of creatures living in those reserves through loss of habitat.

The numbers of many wild creatures in this country are also greatly diminishing. Many species of birds are down by over 50% and hedgehogs are down by around 90%.

This is because of the amount of land that we are populating at an ever-increasing rate.

There was a time when you had to go out into the country to see animals such as deer and foxes. I see them almost every evening in and around our housing estate. In fact, there are now a significant number of dead wild animals to be seen on our roads as a result of being hit by cars. This is not because they are starting to come into the towns. It’s because the towns have been invading their wild territories for many years now.

It’s not the animals that cause the problems in our world, it’s us – the people. We are the problem and, until we regulate the rate at which we reproduce, that problem will not go away it will only get worse.

Carbon storage, or rather, oxygen storage is not the answer. The solution is a reduction in population numbers. Fewer people means less demand for cars or planes or buses – so less diesel or petrol used and less carbon in the atmosphere.

Couple this with a programme of tree planting all around the edges of every field, (with compensation for farmers if needed), and you will start to experience less pollution. It’s not going to be popular but it is necessary and needs to be considered urgently.

Charlie Kerr