Talking about the weather: rain, water and people

Reactions to the recent deluges in Donegal, Texas and South East Asia have highlighted how the human world is having an adverse effect on our climate. The quality of water in our rivers and lakes is also suffering because of certain human activities. Many scientists and others including the Christian churches have voiced their concerns about the destruction of our planet. Will we now have a policy change that will have a positive enduring impact? We feature just a selection of recent headlines and media extracts. Our Noticeboard contains many events and projects aimed at having a positive impact on our part of the planet.

 RECENT EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS

“all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced”

Tweet from the US National Weather Service regarding Hurricane Harvey

 “Climate change is happening right here, right now – from Houston to Inishowen, we are

john gibbons

John Gibbons

 

feeling the effects of rising temperatures”.

(Article by John Gibbons in the Irish Times on Friday, 1 September)

 

“Who’ll stop the rain if we don’t face up to gathering storm on climate change targets?”

(Article by Co Monaghan born journalist Richard Curran in Independent.ie on Thursday, 31 August)

 The global focus on storm Harvey shows not all suffering is seen as equal. When water engulfed Texas and Louisiana, it made headlines worldwide. But what of the extreme flooding in south Asia – is there a hierarchy of suffering?

(Article by Simon Tisdall in the Guardian on Thursday, 31 August) In South East Asia over 1200 people died and 41 million people were affected by the floods. In the US about 50 people have died and 450,000 people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

WATER QUALITY REPORT

“The assessment [by the EPA] concludes that while there has been little overall change in EPAwater quality in the six years up to the end of 2015, there has been:

  • a failure to meet the planned national target of 13 per cent improvement in water status for the six-year period;
  • a failure to prevent deterioration of water status at hundreds of water bodies around the country, which cancels out the improvements in water status at a similar number of water bodies in other parts of the country”

(Extract from EPA Press Release on 30 August regarding its latest national assessment of water quality in Ireland)

CHRISTIAN ‘SEASON OF CREATION’

Bishop

Bishop John McAreavey

“Our dependence on fossil fuels, our excessive consumption, our increasing pollution of land, sea and sky, and the continued extinction of species of plants and animals, are all in some senses acts of disbelief. We must be unequivocal: actions which contribute to the destruction of this world that we share with our sisters and brothers are profoundly immoral, precisely because such actions destroy what is common to all of us: this beautiful world. To protect the environment is to love my neighbour, at home but also in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and in the US.”

(Extract from a statement by Bishop John McAreavey, Chair of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference welcoming the joint message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the third World Day of Prayer for Creation. The day was celebrated across the world on Friday, 1 September at the start of the ‘Season of Creation’)

Noticeboard for September can be found here

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Opportunities in energy for farmers / landowners

Speaking at the Energy in Agriculture 2018 conference held recently in Gurteen, Coenergy in ag.png Tipperary, Minister Denis Naughten said that there are huge opportunities out there in the energy sector for farmers and landowners. He said that proposals for a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme will be brought to government in September and that he was determined to make sure the RHI benefits farmers. The Minister expects to make a series of announcements in the coming weeks.

RENEWABLE HEAT INCENTIVE SCHEME

In a news report in Greennews.ie the conference presentation by a Department official Frank Groome gave some information on the proposed RHI scheme. Participants will be required to submit meter readings to the SEAI and must be a non-domestic heat user. Buildings must adhere to energy efficiency criteria and projects must meet efficiency, air quality, and technology standards. The biomass used must also meet fuel quality standards and come from certified sustainable sources. There will be tiered payment support for biomass boilers, heat pumps, solar thermal, deep-geothermal, and anaerobic digestion.

SUSTAINABLE FARM BASED ENERGY

Speaking at a panel discussion at the conference Barry Caslin, Teagasc Energy Specialist said; “Irish farms and rural communities will be making a significant contribution to a resilient, low-carbon energy system. Despite many pioneering efforts in the past the potential of agricultural energy systems really remains largely untapped. The income provided by energy production will increase the resilience of Irish farmers. It will also provide multiple co-benefits, from increasingly rare manufacturing jobs in Ireland to carbon savings and slurry management.”

County Kilkenny farmer, James Murphy from IFA, said; “Farm-based energy provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and their communities through mechanisms such as shared ownership and jointly-constructed community energy plans. We need to break down the barriers that are stifling investment in sustainable farm based energy and develop a supportive regulatory, planning and financial environment.” Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency said; “At individual farm level an investment in renewable energy will reduce the high cost of energy inputs and also provide an additional source of income for the farm business.”

The numerous renewable energy initiatives taken by Gurteen College were on display, including a wind turbine, a biomass boiler to generate heat and recently installed solar panels on the roof of the equine arena. These and other types of renewable energy initiatives will need become the norm on farms if Ireland is to meet its targets for reducing climate damaging emissions. The benefits of renewables have been confirmed in a recent study in the journal Nature Energy which showed that renewables, particularly solar and wind energy, have significantly improved air quality in the United States. It has resulted in thousands of lives saved and have had benefits for the economy and also for the global climate from the lower emissions.

Events in September can be found here

Transition Monaghan reviews year and plans ahead

At the recent AGM of Transition Monaghan, the group reviewed its activities since its last AGM. Event highlights included tree planting, film screenings and a trip to climate campaign event. Also a number of well attended events were arranged in conjunction with various local festivals such as Castleblayney Drama Festival and Carrickmacross Arts Festival. Another activity of the Group has been the submission of responses to various public consultations. The most recent was one on climate change for the Citizens Assembly. Short articles and a noticeboard are compiled on a weekly basis for this column and for Transition Monaghan website and Facebook page. Outgoing chairperson Michael Callaghan is now involved in coordinating the umbrella group Transition Ireland Northern Ireland (TINI).

The Transition Monaghan committee for the coming year are Chair / Meeting Convenor: Dearbhla Lenehan, Secretary: Laura Hannon, Treasurer: Michael Connolly. Public Relations: Liam Murtagh.

Dearbhla Lenehan said that she looked forward to another active year for Transition

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Dearbhla Lenehan, new Chairperson of Transition Monaghan

Monaghan. One of the events being planned she said is a unique workshop on deep ecology / reconnecting with nature. More details on this and other events will soon be available. She went on to say that the Group expects to build the profile of its new website. Also the Group expects to be involved with the umbrella Transition Ireland Northern Ireland group in the forthcoming National Dialogue on Climate Change being developed by the Dept of Energy, Communications and Climate Change. For further details on Transition Monaghan Group please find us on Facebook or Twitter – @transition_mon

Events in September can be found here

Bord na Móna search for ‘Sustainability Heroes’

Bord na Móna is searching for Sustainability Heroes around Ireland who are doing their bit to live sustainably, in a variety of different ways. It can be something small, like recycling or composting at home, or making a community or business wide effort to lead the change. Four winning entrants will be invited to a special Today FM Dermot & Dave Show broadcast live from the Bord na Móna Naturally Driven Café. To enter: 1. Like the Bord na Móna Facebook page. 2. Describe what you or your community is doing to live more sustainably or nominate someone you know who is making a special effort.  For more details of the competition check the Bord na Móna Facebook page.

While this Bord na Móna initiative might on the one hand be welcomed, in that it promotes sustainability, there are on the other hand, concerns which have been raised in relation to the unsustainability of Bord na Móna’s core activity – the extraction of peat from Ireland’s landscape. Peat is a carbon rich and biodiversity rich material. Last year the climate campaigner John Gibbons published an article entitled Bord na Móna: of strip-mining and greenwashing’ on his blog ‘www.thinkorswim.ie’. In it he criticised Bord na Mona’s the company’s ‘Naturally Driven’ campaign. He said: “Bord na Móna’s corporate rebranding as ‘Naturally Driven’ is an exercise in cynicism. It pedals empty PR slogans in place of genuine reform of what could well be Ireland’s single dirtiest, most polluting and ecologically damaging organisation

Carrickmacross Art Festival sustainability event

carrick arts sustain.png

Pictured above are some of those who attended a workshop on global justice issues as part of the Carrick Arts festival. Transition Monaghan linked in with the organisation Development Perspectives to run the event. The workshop is part of the Sustainable Development Goals Challenge (#sdgchallenge). For more information on this and other workshops check us out http://www.developmentperspectives.ie or on Facebook or Twitter.

Environmental Protection in our Constitution?

the citizen assemblyThe Citizens’ Assembly must call for a referendum to give a constitutional right toenvironmental protection to the people of Ireland, says the country’s leading environmental coalition. The Environmental Pillar – a coalition of 26 national environmental organisations – outlined its view in a submission for the Assembly’s upcoming session on ‘How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change.’

 environmental pillarAccording to the Environmental Pillar the Citizen’s Assembly now has an unparalleled opportunity to use its unique position to propose amendments to the constitution and fill the gap left by Government inaction on climate change. The statement from the Groups says that giving the people the constitutionally protected right to live in a healthy environment would encourage politicians to take real long-term actions and ensure that those actions are not diluted with the change of guard at Dáil Éireann every five years. They claim that a constitutional amendment “is the only way to ensure we drop our embarrassing moniker of climate laggard and move up the international leaderboard.”

A number of spokespeople for the Environmental Pillar have indicated their backing for the call for a referendum. Donna Mullen, spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, and a former cardiac physiologist for 25 years said: “This constitutional approach will yield benefits to our economy, society, and most importantly, health. Already 1,200 people are dying prematurely from air pollution in Ireland each year, with over 150,000 deaths across the globe already attributed to climate change every year.

John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth and a

John sweeny

John Sweeney, NUI Maynooth

spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar added his voice: “Every Irish government since 1990 has endorsed the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the serious implications of climate change. Yet the State has failed to deliver a meaningful response. This shift is needed now more than ever. Without action today, Ireland will soon suffer the impacts of climate change such as increased flooding, sea level rise, increased storm intensity, and summer drought.”

Attracta Uí Bhroin, Facilitator of the Environmental Law Implementation Group at the Irish Environmental Network also voiced her support: “Yes, there are some specific climate actions across key sectors which are needed, but the task before us as a nation with our assembly of citizens calls for a paradigm shift in Ireland’s approach to climate change. Let’s use tools which have proven themselves as effective mechanisms to guide our courts and our legislature across many issues – let’s use the Constitution to set the bar for environmental protection essential to climate action.”

On the weekends of 30th September & 4th November, the Citizens’ Assembly will deliberate on the topic of ‘How the State can make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change. The Assembly’s recently call for submissions from the public on the climate issue closed on Friday last. The submissions can be viewed http://www.citizensassembly.ie

Events on in August and September can be found here

SEED COLLECTING FOR A TREE NURSERY

As autumn approaches many of the trees around us are producing seed – the stock for

john mckeown.png

John McKeown

future generations of trees. Due to the loss of many trees from our landscape in modern times a lot more trees are needed, both for biodiversity reasons and to reduce climate damaging pollution.

We can help Mother Nature to grow more trees and we can plant them in selected locations like new hedges, shelter belts or screening unsightly buildings. To do this we need to collect seeds when they are mature. The seeds of the Wych Elm tree are the first to mature and are ready for collection in May/ June. This chance has passed for this year, but two Transition Monaghan members collected elm seeds for the first time and have 100 elm trees now growing. Elm seeds are sown at collection time and make good growth in that year whereas most other tree seeds need to be stored for a year or two before they will germinate.
There is still plenty of opportunity to collect as the year progresses and the seeds mature.
July is the month for collecting Wild Cherry seeds, but you need to move immediately or the birds will be away with them. Collect Hazel, Rowan, Whitebeam, Guilder Rose seeds in September. In October/November we collect Oak, Spindle, Haws, Sloes. Finally we collect Holly seeds in December. Seeds have different growth habits. Some grow straight away while others need one or two years weathering to break down dormancy before they grow. This process is known as stratification.

Our Transition Group will be holding a workshop on seed treatment and setting up a small tree nursery next October. We will be collecting some seed on the day, but so much the better if you collect seed over the next few months and bring them to the workshop. There will be updates in this column and notice of exact date of workshop.

August events can be found here