More Rain Due….

Marie-Louise HeffernanBlogLeave a Comment

That is the long term prediction for the next 100 years. Now I am no weather forcaster but  the EPA tells in Ireland this is one of the impacts of Climate Change on our weather. They predict a reduction in the number of frost days as well as an increase in annual rainfall in western areas. As I am writing this the tail end of Storm Desmond is still lashing the west coast, Westport and Ballinasloe are flooded, and the Smithsonian institute in the US reckon that Climate Change is turning 500-Year floods into 24-Year ones.
Boring I hear you say …Climate Change why everyone is just sick of it. It always has been wet and stormy on the Atlantic Coast. I guess I am writing this because I am worried. I think of January  2015 years ago …a small baby born into a manger. Things were much different then. Pre industrialisation, pre green revolution, before sliced bread there were only 230 million people on earth.

Now this very morning there are 7.38million people waking up (100,000 more than yesterday) say 1billion having an electric shower, 2billion putting on the heating, maybe 5billion making something hot for breakfast and of them probably 2billion getting in cars and driving to work. Fires burning all over the world either in homes or far away in power stations generating electricity. Every fire burning contributing to greenhouse gases warming the earth and throwing our climate into chaos.

Most of us in Connemara live close to the sea. Sea level rise is predicted 30 to 100cm by 2100. Perhaps your house is high enough. Will it be high enough during winter storms? Will it be high enough in 100 years time? People here tend to look at the long term. I am 980 years short of the qualifying criteria to be considered local! What if the ice cap does melt. Sure I wont be around to see it. The Greenland or the Antarctic ice sheets alone hold enough water to raise sea level by 65 meters. Even half of that would be enough to make Connemara into an Island as Galway bay would link Lough Corrib, Lough Mask, Lough Conn and Cullin through to Killala bay cutting off much of the west coast from the mainland.
We can already see changes in Ecology in Ireland as birds adapt and move north to a cooler more favourable climate. Mediterranean birds that were unheard of in Ireland 20 years ago are now breeding successfully. These are the Little Egret and great Spotted Woodpecker. But it is not only birds that will be moving. Many parts of the earth will become uninhabitable. In particular the so-called ‘climate hotspots’ – lowlying islands, coastal regions, large river deltas and underdeveloped regions and predictions for the number of possible ‘climate refugees’ are currently at 200 million by 2050. Add this to the millions of refugees fleeing war and we have a very unstable world.

It really seems such a massive problem that the solutions are not easy. Certainly there are difficult decisions that have to be made but there are easy ones too. Should I switch on the heating or put on a cardigan? Can I walk to the shop today? What matters here really is not us. We will most likely escape the worst ravages of climate change. We make sure our kids get the best education, see the dentist regularly, we’d be hoping they will build close to us but the greatest gift we can give them and all our descendents to come is security of a safe planet to live on.
We can support Global Climate negotiation by taking them seriously, by taking small actions in our own lives and encouraging the government to take big actions. Big actions could be as simple as allowing people generate electricity from solar and wind and be able to sell unlimited amounts back to the grid, it could be to stop Bord na mona industrially stripping our raised bogs which are the best carbon sinks and to encourage planting of Native trees. So maybe as a new years resolution take small actions… maybe plant a tree and wear a reindeer jumper as your gift to future generations.

Marie-Louise HeffernanMore Rain Due….

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