Glimpses of hope for a sustainable future

Fracking ban here and a marine park in Antarctica

Last week Michael Connolly and Liam Murtagh, of Transition Monaghan attended a workshop in Dublin entitled, ‘Managing Despair, Cultivating Hope: Responding Positively to the Challenge of Climate Change and the Environmental & Economic Crises We Face.’ Around the same time the Dáil voted to ban fracking and ratify the Paris Climate agreement. Liam now writes about a week of ‘hope’ that also included the announcement of an international agreement to create a marine park in the Antarctic.  

                                     Liam Murtagh                            Michael Connolly


The emotional response of individuals to impending global ecological disasters was the subject of a workshop facilitated by John Sharry, Psychologist and John Gibbons an environmental journalist. They pointed out that like in any emotional crisis the best approach is to accept the reality we find ourselves in – probably after a period of denial and despair. The next step is to create a meaningful vision of how to live in the face of such reality. After that we need to focus on constructive action and also – and very importantly – we need to build or link to a community of support around us.


john-sharryJohn Sharry, Psychologist

The session had a hopeful dimension as many of those attending shared stories of the success of various sustainability projects – from GIY projects to energy saving and nature conservation initiatives.  Building ‘resilience’ in communities was explored as a way to cope with any future unexpected shocks.  A detailed report on the workshop is at

john-gibbonsJohn Gibbons, Journalist


Last week the no-frackDáil gave unanimous backing to a Bill that will prohibit the extraction of oil and gas from areas in Ireland where it would need to be fracked to be taken out of the ground. This would include County Monaghan. The threat to the ground
water was one that was of particular concern to many people while Friends of the Earth hailed the Dáil vote as “an historic first step towards a fossil free future”.  The decision on fracking came on the same day the Dáil voted to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. Both decisions have been widely welcomed.


Some recent positive news on sustainability in farming in Co Monaghan was the winning origin-greenby Dermot Sherry, Drumhillock, Monaghan of Bord Bia’s Origin Green Awards in the Liquid /Winer Milk category. Dermot’s and the other award winners nationwide are to be congratulated.


Bord Bia has come in for criticism for their support for the massive expansion of the dairy and beef herd – because of the consequent increased emissions and also for the marketing of infant formula milk to Chinese mothers which it  is claimed discourages breastfeeding. On the other hand, initiatives that promote sustainability and give recognition to genuine emissions reductions in farming are welcome. Another agri sustainability initiative is Teagasc’s Carbon Navigator which is an online emissions reduction tool for farmers.


Internationally last week bought news from the ‘Living Planet Index’ that we are on track for a two-thirds decline of the number of wild animals and fish in the half-century from 1970 to 2020.  Oceans are at particular risk. Separately we also heard of a decision to create a 1.5m sq km marine park in the Ross Sea around Antarctica. The area provides important nutrients to all the world’s oceans.  No fishing will be permitted in these pristine waters. It is hoped that this will be the first of more marine parks that will help address the problem of the declining health of our oceans and the wildlife that depend on them.

penguinPenguins and other wildlife will benefit


As we saw in recent weeks the news of impending challenges facing humanity – and us in Ireland can be ignored or denied. Alternatively people can take collective action, be it through voluntary groups or at a political level – and this can make a difference. The challenge is that many more people need to be involved in such action.    

A list of events on in November can be found by clicking here

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