Drastic action needed to mitigate effects of climate change

Fossil-fuelled vehicles used for freight, personal travel and commuting are extremely wasteful and are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Frequent aero-flights on multi-annual holidays and business meetings add further carbon dioxide to our planetary atmosphere. Rail and broadband Internet are far more efficient for business and would conserve both the environment and our archaeological inheritances.


Schools should teach children from primary level visual and environmental awareness of their surroundings in an effort to develop understanding of both the beauty and limitation of the world.


Motorways are good for road builders; commuting and driving into traffic jams are good for fossil oil dealers and producers; frequent air-flights help aeroplane makers and aero-fuel suppliers.


The extra requirement for power from our national electricity grid would reduce if hills were not being carved out and ground down to make motorways and apartment blocks for property accumulation. A proportion of voters' taxes pay for motorways. And one may reflect on the rendering down of hills for use in motorways as one experiences household power cuts. Indeed land-based windmills could yet turn out to be money-spinners only for venture capitalists.


We are trading on false economies as we on this finite island pay taxes to be used by representatives who by their actions have not been and are not yet sufficiently concerned about the environment. This is everyone's responsibility, voter and elected alike; we do not exist on different planets. Take for examples sewage, and the reducing supply of water increasingly being polluted. Take also for instance our archaeological record for preservation of world heritage sites. Note also that across the 20th century up to 3,000 miles of state-run rail line was taken up.


The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believes there is a 95 per cent probability of drastic climate change by 2100 including a 40 cm rise in the oceans of the world due to climate-related increases in temperature. At the same time ‘Climate change and trace gasses', a 29-page paper published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society by scientists James Hansen, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha and Gary Russell, all of the Goddard Institute; David Lea of the University of California-Santa Monica; and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Colombia University, advises that the planet is under serious threat and that for example it is possible the oceans may rise by several metres this century amongst other vital alterations in our biosphere. The scientists advise extracting greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. And this implies an immediate cessation in adding further carbon dioxide.


The USA is reducing amounts of wheat exported due to the increased planting of crops for fuel. Other countries are doing likewise. This means there is competition between crops for food or crops for fuel. Food prices will rise; they will be indexed to the output of fuel. The section of the world population most reliant on food surpluses, such as wheat, being replaced by agri-fuel crops will be in competition for survival with those driving cars. Efforts to rebalance the deficit may increase rainforest depletion.


There is an expectation that in a short period we will be unable to assist reversal or halt development of loop-back weather systems that are likely to lead to more frequent severe storms and flooding in places, and with more droughts in susceptible regions, unpredictability will be the norm. Large-scale migration will begin and enforced migration like in Darfur will increase. Conflict like in Iraq will increase, and developed countries are positioning themselves to engage in future conflicts about fossil fuel resources. Life under those circumstances will be very difficult four generations hence, and 25-year-olds of today would see many of the more severe effects by their 70s.


We in Ireland do not appear in the everyday sense of commuting and using energy to be engaging with this quickly developing reality. What will it take to wake us up to circumstances? According to expert advice, we must act and drastically reduce carbon emission immediately.

 Evidence suggests we all have less than 10 years to enact that drastic action in order to mitigate the worse effects of climate change during this century. The suggestion is that if we do not, change will move beyond our scope.