It was a Sunday in early February 1990. The access road to our house has a drain running on one side. This drain had burst it’s banks and flooded a distance about a hundred yards long of the lowest part of the road and large parts of the surrounding land. At it’s deepest it was more than three feet. This was the first time this had happened in living memory. Since then it has flooded on five or six occasions. This drain is part of an interconnected system of drains and swallow-holes or sink-holes of all the local villages and townlands. This flooding event could last from a week or two to on some occasions six or seven weeks. So what has caused this once in a hundred year event to happen more than once in a decade? The local theory is that a swallow-hole could have become blocked or maybe there was such a quantity of rain in a short space of time that the drains could not take it.
Climate change means a significant change in the measure of climate, such as temperature, rainfall or wind lasting for an extended period. The buzz-word at the moment is “Global-warming”. Climatologists tell us that the burning of fossil-fuels are causing long-term heating of the earth, thereby increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. The consequences of this show itself in loss of sea-ice, accelerated sea-level rise and longer more intense heat waves. One alarming consequence for this country is that the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean-that keeps our climate mild and and warm-is at it’s weakest in more than a millennium.
So is it too late to shout stop and repair the damage already done? Can we learn any helpful lessons from this pandemic we are now enduring? Dr. Mike Ryan who is the Executive Director of the World Health Organisation recently said “We are creating conditions in which epidemics flourish. We are pushing nature to it’s limits”. I think there is a message for all humanity in the lockdowns we have been forced to endure. The phrase “less is more” comes to mind. Road traffic fell to almost nothing during the first lockdown, though that is far from the case in the present lockdown. Also vapour trails of jet aircraft are not near as common as they were before.
I remain hopeful but there is so much work to be done in greening our homes, our energy systems, our transport systems, agriculture, greening our lives….