Taking the local temperature


Cian McNicholas

IT was a dull but brisk Friday morning on the streets of Westport where, as you might expect, things appeared to be getting back to normal (notwithstanding the face masks, of course).
You could feel the real hustle and bustle of the town coming back to life, the business of people coming and going, coffee shops were busy taking orders, shops beginning to get ready for Christmas and smiles back on people’s faces again.
The unspoken issue for most people going about their business, but not all, is the issue of climate change. And specifically the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as COP26) which was being held in Glasgow.
It’s an event that filled up our timeline lines on social media, all the front pages of our daily newspapers, and topped news bulletins on TV stations all over the world. It brought the topic of climate change into our homes and our lives.
To dig a bit deeper into the issue at local level, The Mayo News decided to take to the streets of Westport to gauge opinions from some people on the ground.
“We need to take action now or the world we know will be totally changed in only a matter of a few years.” That was the strong message from McKinley Neal, owner of Pax whole foods and eco-goods store. “We can’t keep relying on small businesses to drive this message”.
Owner of Savoir Fare bistro Alan Morice also had some very strong views on the matter.
“It is the be all and end all of everything else. Every other problem won’t exist if our environment ceases to exist.”
It’s fair to say that there are people, especially in rural Ireland, who might take the attitude that the reaction to talk of a Climate Crisis is just all an ‘over-reaction’.
Alan Morice is not one of them. “Visit your children in 50 years’ time and see what they think of that attitude,” he remarked.
A big talking point nationally is the issue around recycling and how we might improve our efforts in that regard. Adrian Cawley, the owner of Schu-it, called for the Government to put more emphasis into promoting recycling.
“They need to create an infrastructure to promote the use of recycling, they should focus on building community hubs to centralise the issue within communities. In some European countries they have underground compostable units so people can see it and use it.”
One small thing that the government, to their credit, has introduced and has been a success is the plastic bag levy. It has had profound effects on the way we shop.
“It has really helped, customers are now no longer looking for plastic bags and that has helped with reducing the amount of plastic in the area,” explained Seamus Duffy, the owner of The Bookshop.
“A lot of small changes that were made years ago are starting to have visible impacts on our lives now such as takeaways. A lot of the plastic in those takeaways have been replaced with cardboard cartons.”
“We are just guardians of the planet for the future generations,” concluded the well-known local businessman.
A simple message that yet can so often be forgotten, especially with the demands of modern-life on all of us.

The word on the street on climate change

Adrian Cawley
I think science should be able to get on top of all the methane hype that is going on at the minute. I don’t think it is all farmer’s fault, I think farmers would embrace the change if they had all the science to reduce their emissions. One thing we have done in our shop for reducing our emissions is using compostable bags for our online shopping.

Alan Morice
Savoir Fare
We need to act more and talk less. We need to look at the biggest polluters, which is agriculture in this country. That’s why organic farming is the future.

Conor O’Brien
O’Brien’s Menswear
There are signs all around the world, such as bushfires in America and Australia, and the hottest summers in decades. So it is hard to ignore now.
We think more about rural than just urban all the time, any policies made by the government seems to really to suit the urban areas whereas in rural areas we still need to use cars to get from here to there.

Séamus Duffy
The Bookshop
More and more companies should be looking at being more environmentally friendly. Even in our own line of work, a lot of pens and products like that are wrapped in cellophane. If companies do better it would reduce the amount of plastic and our carbon footprint.

McKinley Neal
Pax Whole Foods
Once climate change starts to affect our daily lives in the western world it is going to be too late. People need to realise it’s happening and happening now.

Helen Gavin
Bold Craft Marketing
Everybody within communities need to engage more with each other. The choices we make every day, such as where you buy your clothes, how you buy your clothes, and where you buy your food are what we need to look at. The targets set by the government are ambitious but that is where we need to be in this crisis.