In the larger sense there are three ways that we deal with danger.
We might whistle past the graveyard pretending that there is nothing that we should be worried about; we hope that somehow the danger will simply not materialize, or that it will simply go away; we prepare to meet it head on.
With regard to climate change we see all three reactions coming into play.
President Trump and many legislators seem to be whistling past the graveyard. Many Americans seem to be hoping that climate change is either a hoax, or won’t be as bad as predicted.
Some are facing it head on.
Include California firefighters in that category. California used to have a “fire season” limited to a few months of the year. It still has a fire season, but it now stretches through all twelve months.
Around the world we are witnessing expanding fire seasons, droughts, melting ice, rising oceans and increasingly destructive weather phenomena.
We can whistle, we can hope. But sooner or later, and preferably sooner, we have to meet all this head on. And the “we” is all of us.
President Trump was pilloried for taking the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, but there was a crude honesty to that move.
America, quite simply put, is not culturally geared towards international cooperation on climate issues.
The accords, in the eyes of many, would have impinged on American freedoms – to drive ever bigger trucks, pollute the air, build baby build, drill baby drill, and use the land primarily for purposes of extraction of product, and generation of profit.
So there was a lot holier-than-thou clucking directed at the Trump administration over Paris.
Meanwhile, pray tell, what is happening in Ireland, which did its own fair share of clucking and actually remains signed on to the targets in the accords?
According to reports, Ireland is completely off course to achieve its 2020 and 2030 climate change targets, this according to the Climate Change Advisory Council’s Annual Review for 2018.
Following on from last year’s review, Ireland is now in an even worse position, the Irish Times reported.
Stated the report: “Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions increased again in 2016, with the projections of emissions to 2035 showing that we are completely off course in addressing the challenge of climate change, said Chair of the Council, Professor John FitzGerald.”
Stated Fitzgerald: “Instead of achieving the required one million tons per annum reduction in carbon dioxide emissions consistent with the National Policy Position, Ireland is currently increasing emissions at a rate of two million tons per year. We need immediate and urgent action to put us back onto a pathway to achieve transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy and society.”
Ireland isn’t home to many industries of the smokestack variety compared with much of the rest of Western Europe, though there are for sure a great many more road vehicles than was once the case.
Ireland, however, is heavily agricultural and the result is significant agriculture-based and land use emissions which increased by 2.7 percent in 2016, and by 4.5 percent relative to 2014, this according to the advisory council’s review.
The view ahead is that agricultural emissions will continue to rise.
This is in large part due to farting cows - more and more of them.
Ireland is gifted with a picturesque landscape and a climate which ranks as moderate – discounting the current drought that is – but when it comes to judicious management of land and the environment, successive Irish governments have been poor stewards.
You can sign accords up the wazoo, but that’s just ink on paper.
It’s the actions that follow that tell the true tale.