Tag Archives: Climate change

Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil)

Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil in Irish) is a small island (just under 3km2) that lies between Achill Island and the mainland off the west coast of Ireland. We had the opportunity to visit the island a couple of weeks ago. The journey, just takes a few minutes in a small boat from the mainland.

Boat ride

Boat ride – looking back to mainland

The island has only very small roads and with hardly any cars, is the perfect place to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

One of the oldest building on the island is the church, a small pretty building on the eastern side of the island.

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The island was only first inhabited in 1834. At it’s peak the island had a population of 171 and throughout the early 20th Century the population remained about one hundred. By 2006 the population had dropped to just 24. Today, there are just ten households occupied throughout the year and only 14 people living on the island permanently. The majority of inhabitants are over 50 years of age. The ferry man told us there was no longer any children living on the island.

 

In the past, farming and fishing would have been the main occupations but today only a couple of landowners continue to farm (sheep and cattle). Tuft is still being cut in some places.

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The island has a magical quality to it. It is so peaceful, the views are stunning and the light is special.

But at the same time there is a sadness, a feeling that humans time here is coming to an end. The men who took us across on their boat were very conscious of the changing climate. They could already see the impact on their community, with rising sea levels and increasing strengths of storms. They showed us at how extra stones cages have had to be installed at the pier to protect it and how the floating platform needed and extra 30cm added to the top to deal with higher tides and storm surges. We often think of sea rise as only affecting tropical islands but for these islanders it was very real too.a

 

The island’s isolation is both it’s magical charm and it’s potential ruin.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

 

Ferries to the island are available from the mainland at Doran’s point or from Achill island, see this link.

 

Is climate change affecting our neighbourhoods?

In the past few years our own neighbourhood has experienced floods due to rivers busting their banks;

River in flood

River in flood

We’ve had snow in March;

Daffodils in snow

Daffodils in snow

And exceptionally mild winter’s leading to early springs.

Common frog

Common frog

You may say all these things are just vagaries of our Irish weather, but there is no doubt that these extremes in weather events are becoming more common. For now though we are still blessed with a beautiful green landscape that Ireland is famed for. But how will species and landscapes cope if we find ourselves experiencing even more of these strange climatic events.

 

Post inspired by Lens artist photo challenge #36 – Around the neighbourhood

 

 

 

 

Spring???

 

It is unnaturally warm. Some parts of Ireland it was 17 degrees Celsius today, here in the west only 15, a temperature we would be happy with in May.

The mild weather has brought out the bumblebees. Queen bumblebees hibernate over the winter. In usual years we would see the first queens emerge in mid-March.

Bombus hortorum

Bombus hortorum

The first bees were spotted by my children on Sunday, and over the last couple of days we have seen some more. This was the first one I managed to get close up to photograph.

Garden Bumble

Bombus hortorum

The spring flowering heather is a new addition to the garden planted to provide early food for the queens. They need both nectar and pollen after there long winter sleep. Heather,  crocus , hellebore, dandelion and willow are all good early food sources.

Bombus hortorum

Bombus hortorum

With Climate Change resulting in much less predictable weather patterns, bumblebees are vulnerable. If the weather turns cold again the queens can only survive a couple of days without food.

Happy Earth Day

I started drafting an Earth Day post that was becoming depressing. So I have decided on a list of ten positive actions anyone can do for our Mother Earth instead. Actions to help us live in harmony with the planet we call home.

  1. Go outside. Close your eyes for fifteen second and use you ears to listen and your nose to smell.
  2. Plant some vegetable or herb seeds, even if it is only in a pot or window box.
  3. Walk or cycle somewhere you would usually drive to.
  4. Find a local farm shop and buy something.
  5. If you live in Ireland, sign the petition to strengthen the draft climate change plan. If you live in another country find out what your government is doing about climate change.
  6. If you have left overs from dinner, eat them the following day for lunch. Don’t throw them in the bin
  7. Make a more sustainable choice in one food product you buy each week. For example, buy organic free range eggs, or organic flour etc.
  8. Pick a sunny day, and look in your garden or go to your nearest park and see how many bees and butterflies you can see.
  9. Instead of your usual present when you go to visit someone bring them a nice flowering plant they can put in their garden.
  10. Find a new woodland, nature reserve or other wild place to visit.

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.

 

 

 

 

Year end

As the year draws to a close it is always a good time to reflect on the last 12 months as well as look forward.

I think this year the weather has really dominated my posts. Our climate influences so much of what we do from gardening to enjoying a day outdoors! And certainly this year’s messed up seasons has had an impact. From days on the beach in APRIL in t-shirt and shorts when it would usually be hats and gloves; to a cool, wet summer that meant a poor harvest; to storm Desmond and the gloom of constant grey days of late winter.

It is more than likely that the weather is a result of the El Nino as well as climate change but I wonder if what we are experiencing is a glimpse into the future and that there is more of this in  store for us. With this in mind for 2016 I need to think more about the crops we grow and how to grow them better and make better use of our space.

I also have been thinking a lot about our wildlife and how we can make more room for it in our garden. More bird boxes are planned. I would love to create a wildflower haven in the area that has been cleared to widen the road at the end of our lane. I also need to get more wildflowers in our meadow and more pollinator friendly flowers into the bee and butterfly garden. So over the next week I will start making plans including the fun part of looking at seed catelogues. This year I’ve been trailing more seed saving too but the proof will come in the spring as to whether this has been a success or not!

So roll on 2016 and let’s hope it is a bit drier than 2016! Wishing you all a wonderfully productive New Year:)

 

 

 

Storm Desmond

Storm Desmond deposited over 100mm of rain on us in about 36 hours, about the same amount of rain we’d usually have in the whole month of December.

River Gweestion in flood

River Gweestion in flood

The river, which lies a couple of miles from our house, usually flows between the two rows of trees.

This is usually a field!

The road was impassible for about 24 hours till the flood waters went down a little. I’ve never seen it closed before.

With climate change we can only expect more of these events.