Upcoming events & notices for February

Eco-Congregation Ireland event: Climate scientist Prof John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth will be keynote speaker in Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny on Friday, 13 February at 7.30pm. See www.ecocongregationireland.com

.Climate Conversations 2015:Bringing People Together for a New Understanding on Climate Change’ – a series of proposed events in Ireland in early 2015. See www.climategathering.org

Climate Change and the Well-Being of the Community: Weekend of 6 – 8 February.  Scottish ecologist Dr Alastair McIntosh will be keynote speaker at ‘Reinhabiting the Earth’ Spring Conference at  Drumalis, Larne, Co Antrim. See www.ecocongregationireland.com or www.drumalis.co.uk.

Afri Féile Bríde 2015, ’Occupy the Imagination’ (Workshop): Saturday, 7 February (11am -5pm) in the Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare town.  See http://www.afri.ie.

Your Views Sought on Future Retail Development in Co Monaghan:  To give your views, please complete Monaghan Co Council’s online survey by Thursday 11 February. To access it, see ‘News & Events’ at http://www.monaghan.ie/en/home.

Talk on Climate Change (Eco-Congregation Ireland event): Friday, 13 February at 7.30pm in Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkennny.  Speaker: climate scientist Prof John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth. See www.ecocongregationireland.com.

Recycling Arts & Crafts Workshops for Children on Valentine’s Day: Monaghan Town Library  on Saturday, 14 February. Booking essential. Tel 047-81830. Limited places available for the free workshops.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Day (Dublin): Saturday, 14 February. See Fossil Fuel Divestment Gathering – Dublin on Facebook.

Trocaire Primary / Postprimary Classroom Resources for Lent 2015. The theme is climate change and how it is affecting communities around the world. See www.trocaire.org/education/lent2015

Organic Centre in 2015: The Centre’s seed / course catalogue for 2015 is now available. Courses commence on Saturday, 21 February. Some special events to mark the Centre’s 20th anniversary are planned for 2015. See www.theorganiccentre.ie.

Ecology Sunday ‘Salute to Spring @ Navan’: Sunday, 22 February (11am – 3pm) at Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh. A free ‘drop in’ event celebrating the arrival of Spring including  looking at flowers, plants, insects and bird calls. Take a ‘plant identification’ walk and even get to plant your own seeds and bulbs.

Springtime Walks & Talks at the Botanic Gardens: see ‘Events’ at http://www.botanicgardens.ie.

Events at Armagh Planetarium: (1) Electric Half Term, 16-21 February, 10am-5pm. Digital Theatre & Magic Science hands-on workshop (2) Stargazer, Saturday, 28 February 12.30-3pm with Mark Thompson of BBC Stargazing LIVE. See http://www.armaghplanet.com.

Fruit & Nut Tree – Sales & Pruning / Grafting Spring Courses: The Sustainability Institute, Westport, Co. Mayo. See www.fruitandnut.ie

Eco Eye: The new series on RTE 1 is broadcast on Tuesdays at 7pm. Catch up on them on the RTE Player and on YouTube.  See http://www.earthhorizon.ie.


Energy Management Training for Management  / Staff of Schools & Colleges. Workshop 1 on Tuesday, 3 February and Workshop 2 on Tuesday, 10 March in Louth – Meath Eduction Centre. See ‘Energy Managment Course’ at www.energyineducation.ie

2015 IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference: Wednesday, 4 February in Dublin. Theme: ‘From Bioenergy Plan …to Action?’ See www.irbea.ie

STEM Project – Business Networking: Sustainability Project’s closing event on Thursday, 12 February at 10am in Armagh City Hotel. Keynote Speaker:  Susan Hayes, Managing Director of Hayes Culleton – “The Positive Economist”. See ‘Events’ at www.stemproject.com

Irish Renewable Energy Summit: Thursday, 19 February in Dublin. See www.energyireland.ie

Introduction to Organic Production (Fetac Level 5): 10, 18, 24 March & 1 April (10am-5pm) Teagasc, Ballyhaise, Co Cavan. See ‘Events’ at http://www.teagasc.ie.

Climate Bill: Will it be an adequate response?

This week the long awaited Climate Bill was published by the Government. It came a few days after NASA confirmed that 2014 was the hottest year since records began. The Bill sets out the intention of the Government to move Ireland to a low carbon economy by 2050.  The lack of specific targets for emission reductions in this proposed law has been criticised by many environmental groups. This week has also seen Pope Francis highlighting the issue of climate change. Here in Ireland the issue was also highlighted by a visit to Dublin by world famous climate scientist Dr Michael Mann.

The Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly TD said that the Climate Bill will involve ‘National Mitigation Plans’ which will set out how our national greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced. There will also be a ‘National Adaptation Framework’ which will outline the national strategy for adapting to climate change. The news was welcomed by the Government parties. A feature of the Bill will also be the setting up of an expert advisory council which will advise and make recommendations to the Minister for the Environment. This feature has been one of the criticism made by Oisin Coughlan of Friends of the Earth who said: “The Bill does not include a definition of low carbon, it doesn’t guarantee the independence of the Council, and it doesn’t include the principles of climate justice,” Climate scientist Professor John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth said: “The clock is ticking, alarm bells are ringing … but we’re pressing the snooze button”.   

In the past week, Pope Francis visited the Philippines. Just over a year ago Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread devastation and loss of life through a region of the Philippines.  The severity of the typhoon was attributed by many to the changing global climate. In a comment as he set out on his trip, Pope Francis said:  “I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature.” Later this year the Pope plans to issue a major encyclical on climate change.

This week also saw the visit to Ireland of renowned climate scientist Dr Michael Mann of Penn State University. He is the originator of ‘The Hockey Stick’ – a simple, easy-to-understand graph which he and his colleagues constructed to depict changes in Earth’s temperature back to 1000 AD and which clearly highlights the current upward trend. His lecture in Trinity College outlined how he has responded to the disinformation that has been generated by the campaign to deny the reality of climate change. Commenting on the Climate Bill Dr Mann said that it was a “good starting point for debate”.

The warming of the planet is being caused largely by our use of fossil fuels – oil, coal, peat and gas. The ‘Fossil Fuel Divestment’ campaign takes the fossil fuel industry to task for its involvement in the climate crisis. The climate organisation 350.org is calling for organisations and in particular for universities and churches to divest from fossil fuels. On Saturday, 14 February, towns and cities across the world, including Dublin, will host events as part of Global Divestment Day.  More details on the event will be available in the coming weeks.

Decline of our rural towns and villages needs to be addressed – An Taisce

An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland has called on the Government to take rural settlement seriously in the upcoming review of the National Spatial Strategy 2002 -2020. The organisation points to what it terms as the ongoing ‘suburbanisation of rural Ireland’ and the consequent decline of our rural towns and villages.

An Taisce has published five principles for sustainable rural settlement which they say should be taken into account in the upcoming review of the Spatial Strategy.

  1. A strong network of thriving towns and villages is fundamental for rural development.
  2. Scattered housing in unserviced locations should be restricted and instead directed to rural towns and villages.
  3. Implement a ‘Serviced Sites Initiative’ in rural towns and villages as an alternative to scattered housing.
  4. Rural Ireland is a critical resource for a post-carbon world.
  5. Manage the economic, social and environmental legacy of scattered housing.

An Taisce says that none of these principles are radical as they are all supported by numerous national planning policy documents but they have not been properly applied in practice. The organisation claims that evidence clearly shows that the highly dispersed settlement patterns that have been allowed to take hold are extremely costly and this has stored up significant social, economic and environmental problems that are to the long-term detriment of rural communities and the rural economy. For more on this initiative and on the work of An Taisce see http://www.antaisce.org.

South Monaghan ‘An Spud Off Mór’

Transition Monaghan are organising a spud tasting competition for the South Monaghan area. The ‘Spud off’ will consist of blind tastings of home grown potatoes, from growers in the South Monaghan area and will take place during the summer.

The event is being organised by Transition Monaghan member Conan Connolly, to promote growing  your own food, and to create a bit of friendly rivalry between potato growers. The competition is modeled on a ‘Spud Off’ run in Co. Kerry, which recently featured on RTE television. The competition is open to anyone living in the Castleblayney & Carrickmacross electoral areas comprising of  the following parishes: Annaghmullen, Ballybay, Carrickmacross, Castleblayney, Corduff, Donaghmoyne, Inniskeen, Kilanny, Latton, Magheracloone.

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