NOT A SOFT LANDING Phrases like ‘global warming’ led some to think that we’d just get more nice, sunny weather – but climate change is a much harsher reality.
Nature and rewilding
Gotta hand it to these fellas, they keep me on my toes. “Pat has the answers,” says he, or at least that was the jibe at work one morning. “Problem is, there are too many experts. Lots of experts making it up as they go along,” I reply, then quickly change the conversation to flowers. Was a bit early anyways for chapter and verse.
I only realise later that he was angling for some word on climate science. This frog had hopped out of the water just nicely before it’d got too hot!
I could have started things off by saying that it all began in 1824, and that the first scientist to prove the connection between atmospheric CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect in 1859 was an Irish man called John Tyndall from Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, an unsung and largely forgotten genius whose experiments showed that the natural warming is amplified by traces of these greenhouse gases.
And then I could have said I too had niggling doubts after Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, the 2006 documentary that, like nothing before it, had captured the public’s attention and shone a light on what was then called ‘Global Warming’ – a fuzzy term that makes climate change sound oh so lovely when the opposite is the case. Climate change isn’t a nice day in October. Weather is temporary, climate change is long term.
At that time, in contrast to the present day, equal time was given to the climate change deniers (a tiny minority now), many of whom were funded secretly by the fossil fuel industries, muddying the waters to get their greasy paws on their next trillion.
Since then, Gore has been largely vindicated, with 97 percent of all climate scientists in consensus: This climate change is definitely manmade.
We are in fact in between Ice Ages right now, and natural change alone would have had a slight cooling effect rather than a warming effect. Not only have the multi-billionaire oil magnates been funding climate deniers to try to kid the people, but since the 1980s companies like Exxon and Shell knew the damage they were doing, predicting that by 2060 CO2 levels would double with all its consequences, pushing the planet to a 3ºC temperature rise, while still lobbying against renewables.
Despite the greed and all the machinations, there’s still hope for the future if we drastically reduce our CO2 emissions and keep temperature rise to 1.5ºC.
For our part, being a small country, we can be leaders on the world stage. Hawaii and Costa Rica use 100 percent renewable energy. It’s a lot easier to turn a small ship around.
Per capita, our emissions are 50 percent higher than China, and yet our untapped wind and wave energy resources are the envy of many European countries, where they make the most of the smidgen they get by historical investment in the Electricity grid and energy storage in recent years.
Try to explain all that before the warmth of the keep-cup coffee has kicked in. “Don’t mind that, think of the flowers,” I say. “Don’t worry about that, think of the flowers.” Are ye getting wise to me now?
Pat Fahy is Biodiversity Officer with Westport Tidy Towns.