We need both hands on the stick to combat climate change

There are some battles in life that we enter with a half hearted desire to win. Conflicts that we deem as not mattering because we have not made the real connection between them and our lives. We have tended to do it with strife, with modern famine, with the abuses of human rights. That if it does not affect us really, that it is something we ought not get involved in. Until it comes to our own doorstep, we have a tendency to look away or move on. This week’s IPCC report on the impact of climate change and our role in creating it should act as a wake up call to the world…and when I say the world, I don’t mean the world out there, but the world around us.

We need to approach this with the hurling parlance of two hands on the stick. There is no point in half heartedly reaching with a limp wrist into the heat of battle knowing full well that the stick with be slapped away. We need to approach climate change like we are trying to win it. Not just for show. Not just for kudos for trying our best. We have a great interest in the impact of climate change because we live on a rock on one side of an exposed ocean. Our chin is set against the prevailing winds, our lives are dictated by the weather that we associate with our place. In recent times, we have seen the impact of all of this. Our coasts have been lashed, our gorse is burning, our streets and farms have been flooded and the rising oceans place our coastal places in peril unless we play our part fully, two hands on the stick, committed.

For a century or more, we have been aware of the great natural disasters that have befallen the less developed parts of the world, and indeed, that delay in development of these places has often been caused by the prevailing climactic and natural conditions there. This week we were told officially that these places will be left to over heat, to become arid, to become uninhabitable.

In recent years and indeed months, we have seen the killing power of nature in the heart of Europe. Who could have foreseen the power of the German floods, the frequency of the named storms that have lashed us, the towering flames of burning Greek islands. These are no longer the preserve of the blockbuster movies. We have helped create this monster and only we can slow it down.

Here in the west of Ireland we are very vulnerable to it. We have a role to play in changing the way we consume power and the way we generate power. We have to insist on greater sustainability in the development of our villages, towns and cities. We have to make it easier for people to switch to replaceable energies. Retrofitting, solar panels, electric cars, etc, all have to become affordable and not just for wealthy trendies trying to make a statement.

We need to look at the way we live and where we live. To build green thinking into our planning decisions, to not roll our eyes, shrug our shoulders and dismiss as tree-huggers those who have professed this for so long. Are we ready for this commitment? We shall see. But if we don’t...


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