Shattered Records Means Climate Action is Urgently Needed

Shattered Records Means Climate Action is Urgently Needed

Clogher Diocesan Event and Antrim Anti-Fracking Protest Highlight Issue

On Saturday last, people gathered in Monaghan to mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty ‘Laudato Si’. On the same day a group gathered at Woodburn in Antrim to celebrate the departure of fracking rigs that were exploring for oil in that area. Meantime we hear that greenhouse gasses that cause climate change are rising sharply. If climate chaos is to be avoided in the coming years, resolute action on the climate issue is now needed in every community.        

Pope Francis published the ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical in June 2015 but in the year that has passed the issues he highlighted have become even more urgent. This week we hear that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 400 ppm (parts per million) all of this year. The safe level is 350 ppm and we will be at 450ppm in twenty years. Global temperatures records have been shattered each month so far this year and extreme weather becoming more frequent. Sea levels are rising leading to the displacement of some island and coastal communities. These trends are likely to continue. The effects on biodiversity are significant. Last week the first confirmed extinction of a mammal due to climate change has been reported. The Great Barrier Reef’s only endemic mammal species the Bramble Cay melomys has been completely wiped-out.


The Clogher Diocesan Earth Day event in Monaghan on Saturday last involved a prayer service on the grounds of St Macartan’s Cathedral followed by a tree planting ceremony. Sr Nellie McLaughlin introduced the event by reminding everyone of the focus of the encyclical on the earth and on the poor. Nellie is author of a book entitled ‘Life’s Delicate Balance’ which is a response to the encyclical. The prayer service involved members of the Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group who were the organisers of the event. There was also a musical contribution by Helena Connolly and Aoife McCooey, both of Clogher don Óige.

Bishop of Clogher, Liam MacDaid attended the event and spoke about the encyclical andreferred to the importance of its message of the need to care for our environment.  Following his address he planted a rowan tree close to the statue of St. Macartan, the patron saint of the Diocese. He said that the rowan was picked as it is a native Irish tree and it is mentioned in stories relating to St. Macartan.

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Bishop Liam MacDaid speaking at the Clogher Earth Day event outside St Macartan’s Cathedral
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Ecologist Billy Flynn speaking to Group beside a rowan tree that was planted at the Cathedral to mark Clogher Earth Day

The event concluded with a talk on the importance of biodiversity by Billy Flynn an ecologist. He referred to the fact that his own perspective on the work in the area of biodiversity has changed in recent years. Initially he would have just focused on the numbers and features of a particular species. Now he also values the animals and plants in their own right and the place that they have on our planet.


Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas and oil in the rock. At Woodburn near Carrickfergus the company Infrata had been drilling an exploratory well. A ‘Stop The Drill’ campaign has been protesting at the site for many months. The protestors included a number of environmental groups from across the island of Ireland. Mícheál Callaghan and Conan Connolly of Transition Monaghan recently joined the protest for a day.

The opposition to the drill was because of the potential adverse impact it would have on the water supply to nearby reservoirs and also for climate change reasons, i.e. to stop fossil fuels at their source.. Last week the drilling company decided to leave the site as no oil was found. James Orr, the Northern Ireland director of Friends of the Earth, said the “earth has spoken”. “Today is a time for celebration – this is fantastic news for the community, our water, our climate and our wellbeing,” he said. had previously attended the protest site a few weeks ago.



  • One billion people worldwide live on less than 2 US dollars (€1.77) a day
  • 1% of the world’s population uses 30% of the world’s resources
  • 3 million people have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the 18 years of age. 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution
  • 10 million people are stateless – they have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

The first two statistics above were given by Douglas Frantz of the OECD (Organisation for European Co-operation and Development) in an interview on RTE Radio One’s ‘This Week’ programme on Sunday, 19 June. The interview in full is available on RTE Radio Player. The other statistics were published by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency to mark World Refugee Day 2016 on Monday last. For further details, see Both sets of statistics highlight the growing global issue of inequality which combined with the climate change issue will require considerable political leadership if they are to be tackled and the world is to be a better place in the coming decades.

Events in July can be found by clicking here.  August event can be found by clicking here

Vital to Act Locally and Nationally on Global Challenges

Recent and Upcoming Events and Campaigns Can Make a Difference

A number of groups at local and national level are making efforts to help address global challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation and global poverty.  This week we look at some recent and upcoming events both locally and nationally at which groups are highlighting these issues or undertaking practical actions.       



This Saturday sees the first Clogher Diocesan Earth Day being marked at an event in St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre, Monaghan. The event from 2pm to 3.30pm is being held to mark the first anniversary of the Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical Laudato Si. ‘Caring for our Common Home’ is the theme of the encyclical and of the Monaghan event. The focus of the event will be on the issues of climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty. Short presentations will be given by Bishop Liam MacDaid, ecologist Billy Flynn and author Sr Nellie McLaughlin and will conclude with a tree planting ceremony at St Macartan’s Cathedral. All are welcome to the event which is being organised by Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group (JPIC).  For further details tel 086 8130296.


The Laudato Si encyclical was the focus of a recent seminar that I attended in Trinity College which was organised by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.   Speakers from Trocaire at the event said that the Pope’s encyclical has had a positive effect outside the Church on the discussion on climate change and it influenced the securing of the recent Paris Climate Agreement.  Liam Lysaght of the National Biodiversity Centre described the decline in Ireland’s biodiversity of birds, bees, plants etc in Ireland and the loss of habitats such as our unique raised bogs. He said that reports alone won’t solve the problem – we need to reconnect more closely with the natural world.  John Barry of Queen’s University Belfast said that facts on climate change and biodiversity loss are not convincing politicians and the public to treat them as urgent issues and so they don’t seek to reduce the consumption of goods and services that are causing the problem. He said that the arts have a role to play – stories, songs and film can touch people more emotionally than facts.

‘Laudato Si is the also the theme of the SMA Summer School that takes place in Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, Newry, from Saturday, 25 to Monday, 27 June.  See for details.




Most drinking water sources in East Pokot, Kenya have dried up due to drought. (Photo: Bóthar Appeal)

Poverty is widespread worldwide but in some place the problems are added to by climate change and people’s lives are at serious risk. A range of groups based in Ireland undertake aid work or raise money for projects in these countries. Here in County Monaghan, groups like Blayney Blades in Castleblayney organise regular events to raise funds. The proceeds of the Castleblayney group’s June coffee morning of €1,100 went to the national charity Bóthar for their work in East Pokot in Kenya. The community of East Pokot is experiencing drought for almost three years, and this donation will allow them to develop a borehole to access clean water in order to survive.



Having buildings and homes that are nearly zero energy or ‘passive’ is one way of helping to reduce emissions that are causing climate change. Owners of such buildings have the added benefit of very low monthly energy bills.

On Friday, 24 June, from 9am to 1pm the Centre for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technologies (CREST) in Enniskillen will host a Passive House Open Day in the CREST Centre.   This building is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the UK and Ireland as it is Certified Passive House. For details see or email or tel 048 6634 2301.


 CREST’S ‘passive’ building in Enniskillen



A broader international initiative on climate change is called CapGlobalCarbon. It is a proposal for non-governmental groups to create a new global system to (a) make sure the necessary reductions in total global carbon emissions are achieved and (b) do so in a way that reduces poverty and inequality. The system would operate as a back-up to the inter-governmental negotiations. This idea has been developed by members of international think tank Feasta including some from Ireland.

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Our global climate is on course for disaster. Feasta say that this is because the atmosphere is being treated as a dumping-ground for greenhouse gas emissions and there is no global regulator for keeping the vast majority of the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

Feasta recently held CapGlobalCarbon seminars in Dublin and Tipperary. They explained that to minimise the risks of irreversible climate change, CapGlobalCarbon aims to ensure that the aggregate global emissions from fossil fuels steadily decrease to zero. This would be achieved by a progressively tightening cap on fossil fuel extraction. Furthermore, revenues from the auction of extraction permits would benefit the lowest consumers of fossil fuels. This compensation could substantially alleviate poverty and reduce global inequality. By steadily and predictably reducing the global dependence on fossil fuels the process proposed by CapGlobalCarbon would also hasten a smooth transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The CapGlobalCarbon proposal is welcome but it needs political support at national and international level. For more details on CapGlobalCarbon see

A list of June events can be found here

Clogher Diocesan Earth Day Gathering for Monaghan

Bishop MacDaid & Clogher JPIC Group to Mark Year 1 of Pope’s ‘Laudato Si’

‘Caring for Our Common Home’ – the theme of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical calling on all of us to address the climate and ecological crisis – will be the focus at a gathering commencing at 2pm on Saturday, 18 June at St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre, Monaghan and concluding with a tree planting ceremony at the Cathedral grounds. All are welcome to the event which is being organised by Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group (JPIC)   


Bishop Liam MacDaid will be a speaker at the Clogher Diocesan Earth Day event

Bishop Liam MacDaid, ecologist Billy Flynn and author Nellie McLaughlin will be among those who will be speaking at the Clogher Earth Day Gathering. Coordinator of the JPIC Group Father Joseph McVeigh is hoping that the Clogher Earth Day will give renewed impetus in the Clogher Diocese to the message of the Pope in his Laudato Si encyclical concerning the link between the poverty in the world and environmental degradation and climate change. Last September Bishop MacDaid launched the Clogher Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Group. The steering committee has members from both the Catholic Church and Church of Ireland in the Clogher Diocese.


Ecologist Billy Flynn will be guest speaker

The guest speaker at the event on Saturday, 18 June will be ecologist Billy Flynn who will speak about the importance of biodiversity in County Monaghan and the plan for Monaghan to become a ‘Biodiversity Town’. Billy is a County Monaghan based environmental consultant who has been a judge on the National Tidy Towns Competition and he has a particular interest in environmental sustainability.

The Clogher Earth Day gathering will be chaired by Nellie McLaughlin who is an author and a member of the steering committee of Clogher JPIC.  Nellie’s is a Mercy Sister based in Donegal. Her most recent book ‘Life’s Delicate Balance’ is a response to Laudato Si’. In it she says that this is “the time when, individually and collectively, we endeavour to  take to heart the challenging yet encouraging message of Laudato Si and continue the dialogue, exploring our oneness in the mystery of the unfolding universe, our common home”.


Nellie McLaughlin will chair the Earth Day Gathering

The event on Saturday, 18 June will conclude with a walk from St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre in Monaghan to the grounds of St Macartan’s Cathedral. Bishop Liam MacDaid will plant two rowan trees there to mark the occasion of the first anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si.


Fr Joseph McVeigh, Coordinator of Clogher JPIC

The coordinator of Clogher JPIC Father Joseph McVeigh has said that would like to see people from all over the Diocese of Clogher attending the event. Following the event he says that the Clogher JPIC Group would like to see each Parish engaging in the work of promoting the message of Laudato Si at parish level and undertaking initiatives that respond to the issues of fossil fuel triggered climate change, declining biodiversity and global poverty.  Further information on the event is available by telephone 086 8130296.

A list of events on in June can be found here

Why We in County Monaghan Need Healthy Oceans World Ocean Day on 8thJune – a Celebration and a Call for Action

The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean pumps life to our planet and to every person on it.  To mark World Ocean Day on 8th June Michael Connolly of Transition Monaghan presents his perspective on the links between human activity, climate and our oceans and the future implications for everyone – including us in County Monaghan. 

waveThe oceans are a very large part of the biosphere and the impact of the changes we are observing on Monaghan as with all parts of the planet will be long term and profound. Many studies going back decades show that the impact of human activities and side effects, i.e. acidification, fishing, stratification and plastics pollution are leading to the death of the oceans. Evidence suggests that all this combined this will mean a mass extinction event followed by one on land also, which will almost certainly include us the human species. So put bluntly in order that we bring about a worst case scenario we need do nothing at all – merely continue business as usual.
By way of explanation the climate shows signs of having reached the point of self-reinforcing. Evidence shows that more than half the Co2 entering the atmosphere is coming from natural sources in a positive feedback process unaccounted for in any Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment. The obvious implication is that climate change is likely to continue to accelerate regardless of what we do with fossil fuels – but the more fossil we burn the more extreme it will be. Given also that we will likely see a blue water event (ice free Arctic) in the next couple of years, abrupt climate change is here and will overwhelm our human systems. We are badly behind the curve both in our understanding of the state of the climate system and what we need to do about it. I realise that this will seem a very bleak view but it is important to realise that it is based on sound research by many hundreds of scientists and evidence from the paleontological record. This outcome is not inevitable and there are mitigations and adaptations that could if enacted hold the possibility of preventing this most profound of global tragedies.

The first mitigation is that we must designate most of the world’s coastal waters as marine reserves and declare them off limits to all forms of industrial activity including fishing. Secondly we need to declare a climate emergency and instigate a crash programme to cease fossil fuel burning in an effort slow the rate at which Co2 is building in the atmosphere and oceans.

Thirdly we need to divert most economic activity that is not related to primary food production systems to broad scale adoption programmes to mitigate the effects of abrupt climate change which data from the environment strongly suggest is here.

I’m aware of the vanishingly small chance that the world will adopt this strategy, trapped as we are in our delusions of omnipotence. Having said all this there exists another possibility whose odds of occurrence are impossible to calculate. This is the possibility of abrupt climate change collapsing the global food production systems which could in turn collapse industrial civilization and possibly save the oceans in the nick of time but at the cost of billions of lives as the earth’s human carrying capacity contracts and the reduction of remnants of humanity to a pre-industrial level of subsistence.

World Oceans Day on Wednesday, 8 June is a global day of ocean celebration and awareness raising of the importance of our oceans. This year’s theme is ‘Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet’ and it focuses on the prevention of plastic ocean pollution. See for details. In Ireland the only organised event to mark World Ocean Day is a family event on Sunday, 12 June which takes place in Galway Atlantaquaria in Salthill, Galway. It’s the world premiere of the animated film ‘Special Octonauts and Pelicans’. See

Events in June can be found here