Category Archives: Climate change

Climate Change – An Uncertain Future

Climate change is very much the elephant in the room. We know it’s out there,  we know the climate is changing, but very few of us are actually talking about it.

In recent weeks, a huge iceberg (5,800 sq km, which is about the size of County Mayo) broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in the Antarctic. This is a very visual image that we can physical see the effects of a warming earth.

I have just read a fascinating essay by David Wallace-Wells, who expertly summarises the many changes our planet will, and is experiencing, because of climate change.

Entitled the “Uninhabitable Earth” and appearing in the New York Magazine,  it makes for a very worrying reading. Wallace-Wells has interviewed hundreds of eminent scientists and combined their science, views and predictions into a very readable article.

I urge anyone, whether you view yourself as a climate change believer or skeptic to read the full article.

Just a few observations outlined by Wallace – Wells:

  • The Arctic’s permafrost holds 1.8 trillion tons of carbon. Melting permafrost (as is already happening) could release this into the atmosphere
  • In the last 30 years, we (or human activity) have released 50% more carbon into the atmosphere than in all the time humans have been on earth
  • Some of the latest data suggests that the planet is warming at a rate that is twice as fast as what had been previously thoughts by scientists
  • In the sugar cane region of El Salvador over 25% of male farm workers are suffering from chronic kidney disease, thought to be a result of dehydration while working in fields they used to be able to work in without difficulty

 

Sea levels will rise

Sea levels will rise

It is a very uncertain future we face. We need to make a huge cultural shift in the way we think, and the way we do things, if we are going to slow down the effects of climate change. And I say slow down, because personally I think we are gone beyond the point of stopping it.  Is it a future we can leave in the hands of politicians who only look at things in the short term? Here in Ireland, the Climate action and low carbon development act 2015 and the recently published National Mitigation Plan do not even begin to address the seriousness of the problems we face.

In Ireland, the Citizen’s Assembly, are asking for submissions on “How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change“. Here is an opportunity to have your say.  Submission deadline is the 11th August 2017.

If you are interested in finding out more check out The Stop Climate Chaos website.

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Simple Steps

While there may not be a political will to take climate change seriously, and I am talking as much here about Ireland as other countries, we as individuals can make a difference. You may think – “what can I do?” but you can do lots of simple, little things and if you encourage a friend to follow suit and they in turn encourage another friend, we soon have a movement of people.

So as a first step, find out about your own carbon footprint. There are some good online carbon footprint calculators. Check out WWF Calculator (UK), Carbon Footprint (can choose various countries including USA ),  and Friends of the Earth (Ireland). Depending which one you use you will see where you can make improvements. I wanted to do a graph showing you the different countries but it seems every website I go to shows a different set of figures! So here are the figures from the Friends of the Earth site.

carbonfoot1

Here are some of my simple ideas for reducing your carbon footprint.

Food – think where is it coming from

Our food often comes from thousands of miles away. I am as guilty as anyone else with bananas and avocados in my fruit bowl. But that banana traveled over 5000 miles to get here! Perhaps I should just eat more homegrown apples. If you planted an apple tree in your garden. You could walk out, pick the apple of the tree, bring it into the house. So maybe twenty steps! In addition, the apple blossom in early spring is a great food source for pollinators.

Travel

It is not always possible to walk, cycle or take public transport,  but can you combine car trips. So for example,  do your shopping on the way home from work instead of making a special trip. Offer to pick the neighbour’s children up from school when you are picking up your own.

Waste

Of all the carbon issues this is probably one of the ones we in the western world have made most progress.  The majority of people recycle and compost these days and that is great, but we must continue to improve. What I would like to see is more repair shops. So that when the fridge breaks we can get it fixed for the fraction of the cost it would be to buy a new one! Or instead of going out an buying a brand new item consider buying second hand.

Perhaps in the next post I could list some of your suggestions – why not include your favourite carbon busters in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Bees and Climate Change

This morning on the radio they were talking about bumblebees seen on Christmas day around Dublin (Ireland). Female bumblebees should be hibernating during the winter! So what is happening? Has it got anything to do with climate change?

Here in Ireland, we certainly seem to be having milder winters. This year we are fluctuating between cold days and exceptionally mild days (sometimes up to 12 degrees). Bumblebees wake up if it is warm. The problem for a bumblebee waking at this time of year is that it may find it hard to find food. Not many plants flower during the winter and those that do may not have a nectar source. There are some exceptions of course (e.g. Mahonia, winter flowering heather) but often these are not native plants and are only found in gardens. In the UK, there is some evidence that suggests Buff tailed bumblebees are managing to feed winter colonies. However, this is only in areas where there are plenty gardens with winter flowering plants. If you are a bumble that wakes up in the countryside where are you going to find food?

When we have a winter like this one, with fluctuating temperatures, a bee may wake up a number of times. Each time it wakes it uses up vital energy resources. By the time spring really comes the poor bee may be too weak to build a nest, and start a new colony.

Fewer bees means less pollination. Less pollination means less fruit and vegetables and poor quality produce.

Climate change was in the news too this morning, with scientists saying that things may be worse than we thought. The question is where are we heading? And it’s not just bees I am worried about. It’s all of us!

Forest Flood – Climate Change

The rain continues relentlessly as do the grey days. It is the time of year I long for even a glimpse of the sun. You can’t go anywhere but your feet are squelching underfoot. This week part of the forestry below the house was under a couple of feet of water. It usually happens at least once each winter. Climate change models suggest that Ireland will expereince cooler summers, milder winters and more rain, which pretty much summarises what we have experienced this year.

It frustrates me that our politicians are not really taking climate change seriously. While on one hand at the COP21 global summit on climate change in Paris our Taoiseach (prime-minister) Enda Kenny said we must act now, he also said that financial challenges will prevent Ireland from making stronger cuts in emissions from our agriculture sector. Yes, agriculture is vital to our Irish economy, but climate change will effect every man, woman and child on this planet. What will the politicians tell their children and grandchildren; we had a chance but we didn’t act? Surely now is a time to lead by example.

 

Another day, another climate talk

I wanted to share this post with you because I can’t stop thinking about it since I read it. Inez Aponte’s message about climate change comes from the heart. It is profound and begs us all to listen. Even if you are not a mother, you may be a father, a grandparent, uncle, aunt. This is about all our children’s future.

Some Small Holding

“For sometime now I’ve been terribly worried. I wish I didn’t have to acknowledge it, but everything I have feared is happening.”

Dr Sarah Perkins, Climate Scientist

Another day, another climate talk. And as the climate march leading up to it, the summit itself and the various analyses fade into the media background within a week, I sense that I am another day closer to the conversation that, for the last nine years, I have been hoping and praying I would not have to have.

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