Adapting to a Changing World


Michael Connolly emphasises the necessity of actively preparing for the systemic breakdown that will become increasingly evident as a result of climate change. While there are more and more people waking up to what’s unfolding in global climates and systems, there are still some who are not ready to face the reality of how compromised our ecosystem is. Whether or not we are ready to look it in the eye, we will all need to adapt at some point in the future. In Ireland, we are protected to a certain degree from the current realities of climate change that are happening in other parts of the globe. But we will not escape these realities, they are inevitable. And as the Earth will do a much more efficient job of explaining collapse than any human could, with practical demonstrations of disruption during the next decade, we will all need to seriously consider what it will mean to adapt to a changing world.


By far the greatest barrier in successful adaptation to de-industrialisation (systemic collapse) is psychological, both individual and collective. Misplaced hope of a magical solution creates a dangerous illusion. If you believe that humanity is destined to colonise Mars or that we will own robot butlers in the near future or that renewable energy will replace fossil fuels and maintain our lifestyles into the indefinite future, then you risk not taking appropriate action in time to cushion your landing. Buying into this illusion (or delusion) will prevent you from putting on a seat belt in anticipation of an imminent crash. If you are free of the delusions that make up the paradigm of industrial civilisation then the first thing to know is that you’re amongst a small fraction of one percent of the global population that’s in a lifeboat. The islands of Ireland and New Zealand are likely to be a few of the places to remain habitable for humans as climate change ravages the planet over the next hundred years or so. So, you now have two of the three key ingredients for successful adaptation: you’re in the right place at the right time and you’re free (or relatively so) of delusions. The third, and the one most under your direct control, is a willingness and determination to act.


A good place to start when discussing adaptation is looking at what will be required in practical terms, most of what we will need to do is relatively simple and straightforward. We will need to acquire useful skills, get rid of most of the junk that clutters our lives and find or make some appropriate tools. A vital part of adaptation as a community is having conversations about important issues such as priorities, ethics, trust, and we will need to develop our critical thinking abilities to enable us to distinguish causes from symptoms as the expenditure of resources on symptoms is often counterproductive.

Climate change itself is a symptom of a problem rather than the problem itself and until we address the increasingly unsustainable consumption of the planet’s resources, we will be unable to control the symptoms. People frequently feel despair when confronted with the depth and overwhelming nature of our predicament but, beyond despair and acceptance, there is much that can still be done. We are not individually responsible for the state of the Earth and it is not our responsibility to save the world. But, since we’re here, it makes sense to do what we can for our family, friends, community and generations to come. As we used to say in our school yard games “tag you’re it”.


One set of skills that can be relearned in a process of adaptation, are traditional skills. Which, as the name suggests, were the skills used by our ancestors. Wild Awake writes on their web page that “it is through practising the skills of our ancestors, those who knew the land so intimately and recognised their place within it, that we can strengthen our connection to the earth and all its inhabitants. Through practising these hands-on, creative skills we can flex our own muscle memory and recognise ourselves as the creative, problem-solving and resilient beings that we are” []. Examples of activities include tool repair and maintenance; making fire without matches; green woodwork; basketry using wild harvested plants and trees; making string from wild plants and finding creative ways to repair, mend and make do with what we already have at hand.

Notices with a County Monaghan focus

Transition Monaghan will be hosting a traditional skills workshop by Wild Awake on 7 December. See Transition Monaghan Facebook page for details.

Training on Biodiversity: Running during November in venues across the county by MIDL. For more information contact Gareth Watters on 042 974 9500, email

Developing a Digital Roadmap for Monaghan: Monaghan County Council is seeking your input in developing a Digital Strategy that will lead to higher levels of digital skills within the county.  See

Teagasc Cavan/Monaghan Events for Farm Families 2019: Wednesday, 20 November: Alternative Enterprise (Snail Production, Beekeeping, Contract Rearing); Wednesday, 27 November: Diversification Opportunities (Organic Farming, Poultry Production). Events are free but booking is essential. Call Cavan 049-4338300 or Monaghan 047-81188.

Border Roads to Memories Project Showcase event:  Wednesday, 20 November at 7.30pm at Latton Resource. Project 1 documented all the border crossings that were closed during the troubles, from Donegal to Louth as well as interviews with persons who lived during that period. Project 2 worked with transition students on their knowledge of life on border. Call 0429742682 (line 2).

Public Consultation on the use of Peat in the Horticultural Industry: Closing date for submissions is Monday, 20 January. See

Have your say on Monaghan County Council’s draft Waste Bye-Laws: Submissions are invited on the draft bye-laws by 5th December 2019. See

Cavan Monaghan Science Festival: Cider making workshop with Michael Connolly on Friday, 15 November at Monaghan Allotments. Festival will be running from 9 – 23 November, the theme this year is Climate Change. See

Monaghan Farmers Market: Every Friday, 10am – 2pm Church Square, Monaghan.

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