We need to create a climate of change to halt global warming

Having never paid much attention to global warming a recent report on climate change stopped John Arnold in his tracks. In his weekly column he says the time for sticking our collective heads in the sand are gone.
We need to create a climate of change to halt global warming

Cycling and walking on the frozen Lough in January, 1987 — you used to know where you were with the seasons, not any more

SCARY stuff, that report on climate change that was published earlier in the week.

In the past, terms like global warming and climate change literally went ‘over our heads’ and, to be honest, I never paid much attention to these things.

They were happening away out there, somewhere far, far away and in our safe and relatively cosy country we’d nothing to worry about. It was always said that on a world-wide scale we had a near perfect climate and weather system. Like Dana’s song we got All Kinds Of Everything but all in moderation —not too much moisture or drought, heat or cold.

Now things are getting serious and we have to pay attention, whether we like it or not. The days of sticking our collective heads in the sand and hoping ‘everything will be grand’ are gone forever.

The experts tell us if the average world temperature increases by just half a degree, we will have serious consequences. The doomsday scenario concerns the fact those same scientists forecast if the increase in temperatures is in the region of one and a half degrees, the world as we know it will be completely altered.

Massive tracts of coastal and low-lying lands will become uninhabitable, thus changing irreversibly centuries of farming, fishing and tourism related activities.

Apparently, there are still hundreds, if not thousands of so-called Holocaust Deniers in our world of 2018 — people who still deny the atrocities of World War II.

Apparently, there is no reasoning with these people — Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsesn and Dachau were just figments of someone’s imagination. Well, I can tell ye, I visited Dachau over 20 years ago and even today I can still ‘smell’ that awful place, just terrible.

Now we have people, even nations refusing to believe we have huge environmental and climatic problems in today’s world. We have so called ‘leaders’ from the Land of the Free and the Home of The Brave belittling those who try to warn the world in time.

Capitalism and industrialization are great, I’m all for them, but they have to be regulated. The problem as I see it is that the secret of our success is fast becoming the key to our destruction.

Yet some yearn to return to coal-mining and iron ore smelting and carry on regardless, just as it was in the ‘good old days’.

Back in the 1970s, we heard an awful lot about ‘the hole in the ozone layer’. The big problem then was the production, indeed over-production of CFC’s — the chlorofluorocarbons used in coolants, refrigerators and propellants. As they escaped or were released into the earth’s atmosphere, legally and illegally, they caused a major decrease in the ozone layer, which envelopes the earth and acts as a filter from solar rays.

If this layer kept decreasing, the health implications would have been catastrophic. Action was taken, these CFC’s have been banned since 1989 and the ozone layer is recovering.

The big problem in today’s world is the control of what we call ‘emissions’ which are caused by heavy industry, fuel-burning and animals breaking wind. Individual countries have been given targets for reduction of harmful emissions but few countries are reaching these goals.

It’s just impossible to know what’ll happen in the next few decades. I reckon climate change of one kind or another is happening always, but that we are much better equipped nowadays to measure the changes because of scientific discoveries.

Just last week, I read with interest the following lines in a newspaper: “it has been remarked that our winters materially changed ever since the breaking up of the ice-bergs”. This appeared in The Cork Constitution newspaper in January, 1830, so the melting of the Polar ice-caps didn’t start today or yesterday!

No, all these changes are happening since Methuselah was a boy but without a shadow of a doubt the rate of change has greatly increased.

I’m gone 60 and in the timescale of the world that’s just a dot, but even in that insignificant time spell here in Ireland we’ve seen a huge breakdown in seasonality. I know as we get older we think summers were longer and finer, but the biggest change I have observed over five decades is the way climate and weather have gone all mixed up. The pattern of the four seasons, each with it’s distinctive features. has all but disappeared. As I write this heading towards mid-October, there are days when you’d be sweatin’ whereas normally an autumnal crispness would be in the air. I’m not complaining, mind, but when I recall the ’60s and ’70s, just as night followed day, the seasons were distinctive.

You knew what season one had and, with a few variations, most years were the same. Now we can have grass and flowers growing vigorously in January and have Artic weather in April — like this year.

There’s a grand phrase in Irish to describe when things are all jumbled up, tri na chéile, and that’s the way it is. Then I was reading in the Waterford Mail of May 25, 1825, that “snow was two feet high on the ground, for miles around, at Rathcormac, County Cork, on Monday last”! So where did all the change start?

Many people now tend to dismiss the Bible as being a bit ‘old-school’ and not cool or relevant. Reading the report on possible doom and gloom this week because of global warming took me back to Noah. Are we in the future about to witness once more what happened many millennia ago?

We know of the Iron Age, the Stone Age, and the various Ice Ages too. Is the story of Noah’s Ark and the Big Flood more than just a folksy tale to explain the wrath of an angry God?

Perhaps the world is a lot older than we think or believe and the increase in sea levels now being forecast is simply a repetition of what has happened several times previously? How can I prove this theory, I can’t, but who can disprove it?

It was in the Book of Genesis that the story of the Big Flood was first narrated. According to that version of things, the world at the time was going a bit crazy with crime, corruption, deceit and greed — sounds a bit like today, doesn’t it? Anyway God, decided to teach humanity a lesson so everyone bar the chosen few were drowned.

Maybe the writers of the Book of Genesis didn’t want to frighten future generations with the real facts as regards rising flood waters, coastal erosion, etc, so they attributed the Flood to the wrath of God and left it at that. Noah became the saviour of the human race, the original navigator who steered a careful course in choppy waters.

Speaking of emissions, dairy cows operate on the principle of what goes in one end comes out the other. When grass is digested in various bovine stomachs, one of the by-products is gas. The more cows we have the more gas is produced.

Now, I know that a few years back, in the Moorepark Research Station, they tried to breed new strains of grasses that might cause less flatulence in dairy herds, but this has not met with universal success.

With animal emissions and the continuous burning of ‘fossil’ fuels the greenhouse gas effect continues. We have to go the renewable route and I think solar and wave power are our best options and we must always remember the potential of broad-leaf trees.

To be brutally honest, our options are fairly limited as we can’t just keep going the way we are and hope that somehow things will get better. They won’t.

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