“Let’s make the next 100 years the best of centuries”

The state of the climate – and what we might do about it

The well-known economist Nicholas Stern recently delivered a ‘TED’ talk entitled, ‘The State of the Climate and what we might do about it’.  He opens the talk with these words; “We are at a remarkable moment in time. We face over the next two decades two fundamental transformations [in the structure of economies /societies worldwide and in the planet’s climate] that will determine whether the next 100 years is the best of centuries or the worst of centuries.” His closing words are;Are we going to look our grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we understood the issues, that we recognised the dangers and the opportunities, and still we failed to act? Surely not. Let’s make the next 100 years the best of centuries.” The full 16 minute talk can be viewed online at www.ted.com.

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary – General of the UN says: “Future generations will judge our actions on climate change”.   Last week at the UN Summit in New York on climate change, 120 government leaders each made 4 minute speeches. While no decisions were made at the summit, it has however highlighted the urgent need for agreement by these leaders to commit to major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions when the climate talks take place in Paris next year.

An article in the New York Times that was also published in the Observer newspaper on Sunday last says that in just 30 years millions of Americans will become climate refugees in their own country. Jennifer A Kingston’s report sets out  how American land and cities will be affected  by rising temperatures,  sparking huge population shifts to newly desirable locations further north like Detroit, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. See online copy of the article at www.theguardian.com/environment.  Similar population shifts to those expected in the US are also likely to happen in Europe and in other parts of the world.

An EPA lecture to update us on climate change will take place in Dublin on this Monday, 6 October. On the same evening a talk focusing on people’s attitudes to climate change will be held in Trinity College. Here in Monaghan an event to highlight and discuss the issue of climate change will take place in the Hillgrove Hotel on Saturday, 11 October. See Noticeboard above for details of these events and how to book a place.

 Taking an Eco Tour of Ireland

Roz Kelly founder and owner of EcoActiveIreland.com recently decided to embark on an ‘eco tour of Ireland’. Roz says: “Ecotourism and nature related activities account for 20% of global tourism, a figure that is set to grow in the coming years”. She’s been visiting a range of ecotourism attractions and facilities nationwide and meeting the people involved such as at Rock Farm in Slane and The Three Towers Eco House & Organic Kitchen near Slieve Aughty, Co Galway.  Her tour is now near an end and to date she has been cycling, birdwatching, kayaking, surfing, glamping (glamorous camping), staying in an organic farm guesthouse and an ecocabin, experiencing a seaweed bath and visiting a cheesemaker, a natural perfumery and many other interesting places.

Roz is using a sponsored Opel Mokka ecocar for her travels. A bonus has been the fact that the countryside has been looking its best in the recent spell of early autumn sunshine.

The eco tour is being featured on RTE Radio One’s CountryWide programme on Saturday mornings. Roz is also blogging and tweeting about her tour. For more on her eco tour see www.ecoactive.com and Twitter at ‘ecoactiveirl’ and ‘ecoactive Ireland’ on Facebook. For other information on ecotourism see www.discoverireland.ie/Where-To-Stay/Features/Stay-Green and also www.ecotourism.ie.

Global Day of Action on Climate Change – 21 Sept 2014

The number of activists and citizens across the world challenging the fossil fuel industry and demanding radical action on climate change is increasing. In advance of the upcoming Climate Summit in New York, people are being urged – wherever in the world they are – to join in the People’s Climate Mobilisation for their Global Day of Action. Simultaneous marches and gatherings will take place in cities across the world, in order to send a clear and unavoidable signal to the world’s elite that action is urgently needed!

Climate March Sep 2014


The growing mobilisation of people across the globe against the climate crisis is being likened to the movements against racism in the USA or apartheid in South Africa, and in reality, a similar level of public outrage is required.

In Dublin, members of the public are invited to attend the Climate Picnic this Sunday afternoon 21 September from 12 – 2pm at the Band Stand, St. Stephen’s Green. Members of Transition Monaghan will be in attendance. Everyone is welcome to go along to what is expected to be an enjoyable event that includes music and circus performers. It should be an event that is positive and hopeful and that will make a difference for future generations.  The organisers advise those attending to bring a picnic, banners and friends!

The fossil fuel lobby is one of the most powerful and politically influential in the world. Only when it is seen as unacceptable to do business with them, will our politicians begin to take a step back from their influence. Public outcry over involvement of the tobacco industry in politics and health policy lead to a completely new direction being taken on smoking. The same is possible regarding fossil fuels and climate change, but it will need ‘buy in’ from the public. Bill Mc Kibbon, author and founder of 350.org  descried the fossil fuel industry as “a rogue industry. It’s an industry if whose business plan is followed to the letter, it will wreck the planet”.


Why does this affect us in Co. Monaghan?

Climate change will cause increased conflict worldwide over dwindling resources such as drinking water and land. In this century climate change refugees will be leaving in their millions from the countries most affected by the extreme weather events. This will also lead to increased conflict that will have considerable impacts worldwide.

Co Monaghan, like every other place on the planet, is being and will continue to be affected by climate change.   In the last number of years, we have seen many extreme and record breaking weather events. Last winter’s storms, which wreaked havoc for everyone, were part of the stormiest winters on record. Recent dry weather, has seen the transporation of vast quantities of water into communities around Ireland. As climate change continues to accelerate, these ‘extreme’ weather patterns will become the norm. In the short to medium term, the winters are expected to become wetter and windier and summers expected to become drier and warmer. If greenhouse gas emissions continue, the long term outlook is runaway climate change. This will affect the balance of nature and the biodiversity and ecology on which we depend.

Agriculture is an important part of the economic and social fabric of Monaghan. It is predicted that, if left unchecked, climate change will cost Irish agriculture up to €2 billion per annum. It is still entirely possible to avoid the worst case scenario and to put in place mitigation strategies for the disruption that we will face.

As individuals and communities we can take action to reduce our own carbon footprint and build our own resilience. However, we must also put pressure on our political and business leaders to take the action that we and our children deserve. This is the challenge of our time. Make sure your voice is heard!

Web links: 



www.stopclimatechaos.ie; www.350.org;


Water of life: Re – thinking our relationship with our most precious resource

 Water is the most precious natural resource on the planet. With the imminent introduction of water charges, the whole country is thinking about water usage. Regardless of one’s opinion on water charges, as a nation we must address our often wasteful use of water, particularly as we can expect uneven distribution of rain in the future. We discuss some of the main issues around water usage and a number of ways in which we can use it more sustainably, and keep our bills down.

water epa

Humans are made up of about 65% of the stuff, we need it to keep us alive and wash ourselves with. Clean water is so important to human survival and quality of life. We are lucky in Ireland that we have access to clean water and that we have the infrastructure to treat and distribute it. However it does cost a lot to treat water so that it is of drinkable quality and if our rivers and lakes are polluted the cost of treatment can be very high. It is often assumed that we don’t need to worry about how much water we use as it rains so much here. This is not quite the case. In recent weeks, off shore islands, including The Aran islands and Cape Clear, have had to import up to 50,000 litres of water per day, as a result of the dry weather.

It is predicted that climate change will lead to drier summers, resulting in certain parts of the country becoming affected by drought, while the population of the driest parts of Ireland, along the east coast, will increase.

 What can I do?

 Using Less Water

Saving water often comes down to awareness and monitoring usage. An average Irish person uses 150 litres of water every day, much of which is flushed away, although this figure can vary greatly. For example, a seven minute power shower uses about 175 litres of water compared to 49 in a conventional shower – a massive difference! By simply doing things like taking shorter showers we can make a difference.

 Using water more efficiently

Another very simple step comes down to using water in a more efficient manner. Not leaving taps running, having leaks fixed and only using water when necessary all help. If you turn your tap off when brushing your teeth you can save 6 litres of water per minute, and up to 7,000 litres per year. Furthermore, devices such as washing machines, which use large amounts of water should only be used when full.

 Grey Water

Bathrooms see the most water use, with toilet flushing accounting for about 40% of a household’s average water usage. In many countries around the world, you will find cisterns with dual flush options, which limit the amount of water used. An alternative to this would be to use a toilet displacement device, which can either be purchased very cheaply, or home made. It is a device, such as a plastic bottle or tube, filled with water, which you place in the cistern. This displaces some of the water needed to flush the toilet, and it can save you up to 3 litres of water per flush. A device can be made from an empty juice bottle or carton, of about 1.5 – 2 litres. You fill it to add weight to it, which will then displace the water. At least a part of it should be filled with sand or gravel, so that it does not bounce around the cistern.  Another option, is the recycling of grey water from showers and washing machines. While this water may appear dirty, it is perfectly fine to use in the garden. Grey water recycling kits or pipe add ons can be purchased at a low cost.

Rainwater Collection

It is a  shame that we don’t make maximum use of our abundant rainfall.  Rainwater collection tanks or rainwater harvesters are excellent and can be hooked up to domestic water tanks. Usually rainwater is used for non-drininking uses but there are add-on devices available to make rainwater drinkable. . At a simple level, tanks and barrels can be used to collect rainwater for garden use, saving your mains supply.

Water butts are tanks, of around 200 litres, that are connected to the end of downpipes, diverting rainwater from drains, allowing it to be collected and used in the garden.  More complex tanks can be purchased with filtration systems and pumping mechanisms. In many countries rain water collection is very common and is heavily encouraged due to extremely dry conditions. Earlier this year, former Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, announced plans to introduce legislation requiring all new builds to have rainwater harvesters installed, stating that this could reduce household consumption by 50%.


Water will only become an even bigger issue in the future. We can save ourselves money and do our bit to conserve our most precious natural resource by following some of the steps above.

Watch Disruption and join The People’s Climate Movement

The number of activists and citizens across the world calling bluff on the fossil fuel industry and demanding radical action on climate change. The temperature is rising ahead of the New York Climate Summit. In advance of this summit, people are urged to join in the People’s Climate Mobilisation for a Global Day of Action, wherever in the world they are. The idea is to have simultaneous marches and gatherings across the globe, to send a clear and unavoidable signal to the world’s elite that we demand action!

In Dublin, members of the public are invited to attend the Climate Picnic on Sunday 21 Septembe from 12 – 2pm at the Band Stand, St. Stephen’s Green. Bring some sandwiches, bring banners, bring your friends!

The short film Disruption charts the urgency of the climate movement, and how we can come together to pressurise the world’s leaders to do the right thing for their children’s future.

As Bill Mc Kibbon, author and founder of 350.org stated that the fossil fuel industry is “a rogue industry. It’s an industry if whose business plan is followed to the letter, it will wreck the planet. Once you know that, then you know that these are now illegitimate business plans.”

Members of Transition Monaghan will be in attendance on the day. If  you would like to join us or meet us there on the day please e-mail transitionmonaghan@gmail.com

This is the cause of our time. Make sure your voice is counted!

Humans have exhausted a year’s supply of the planet’s natural resources in less than eight months

Tuesday, 19 August last was ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ – the date our ‘Ecological Footprint’ exceeded our planet’s annual budget.  Ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems.This year it has taken less than eight months for humans to use up nature’s entire budget for the year and go into ecological overshoot, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank. They calculate that it would currently take 1.5 Earths to produce the natural resources now needed to support human requirements.


In 2000 Earth Overshoot Day was not reached until October while back in 1961 it was not reached at all. At that stage we used about three-quarters of the earth’s capacity to produce food, timber, fish and to absorb greenhouse gases and most countries had more resources than they consumed. Most of the world’s population live in countries where the demands made on nature – the nation’s ecological footprint – outstrip what that country’s resources can cope with. Per head of population, we in Ireland are among the countries with the highest ecological footprint in the world and are helping to propel the world into deep ecological debt.  The Global Footprint Network says that the costs of our ecological overspending are becoming more evident by the day. They say that the interest we are paying on that mounting ecological debt in the form of deforestation, fresh-water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss and the build-up of CO2 in our atmosphere also comes with mounting human and economic costs. They see countries with resource deficits and low incomes as being exceptionally vulnerable.

The message poses challenges for Governments, corporations, communities and us as individuals. Many products and services are used with little or no account taken of the ecological impact of that decision. This can range from decisions by Governments and corporations such as the decision to extract oil from tar sands or by fracking to the decisions we make when buying an item in a shop such as one made from non-certified hardwood from a tropical rainforest.

For more information on the Global Footprint Network and its work in tracking humanity’s demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature’s biocapacity see www.footprintnetwork.org. If you wish to calculate your own carbon footprint see www.foe.ie/justoneearth/carboncalculator.


In Brief

Having a ‘greener’ back to school

The first day of school of the new school year is upon us and as parents and guardians prepare to send the little (and not so little) ones back to their classrooms, the organisation Voice suggests ways to reduce the impact of ‘back to school’ on the environment and even save money along the way.  They say ‘greening’ your school preparations does not only mean buying from sustainable sources and products from recycled material, it also means reusing items that still have good life in them. Suggestions include sourcing used uniforms and school books, covering school books, having nutritious lunches minus throwaway packaging and walking/cycling to school. See www.voiceireland.org for more details.

Save money on your energy bill this winter and into the future

The ‘Better Energy Homes Scheme’ provides grants to homeowners to upgrade their homes with energy efficiency measures which can include such works as roof insulation, wall insulation, boiler and heating control upgrades and installation of solar panels. These will not just reduce your energy use and costs, they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For details, see http://www.seai.ie/grants.

Certain social welfare recipients may avail of free home insulation. CAMCAS (Cavan & Monaghan Community Area Services), work with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to carry out the’ Warmer Home Scheme’, providing Attic and Cavity Wall Insulation. For further information and to see if you are eligible, contact the CAMCAS office on 049 9527384


Monaghan project in national display of young people’s eco action projects

A showcase of young people’s environmental action projects from around Ireland including a winning project from the Teach na nDaoine Family Resource Centre,  Monaghan is running until Friday, 12 September in the European Union House on Dawson Street in Dublin. The Teach na nDaoine project was entitled ‘Class Trash’ and was a winner in the Junior Waste/ECO Art & Design category. The exhibition displays over 20 projects from young people island-wide who participated in ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards 2014 programme. There were 75 finalists at the Young Environmental Awards Showcase and Ceremony in May 2014 and the exhibition displays a number of the winning projects along with some highly commended groups.