Don’t despair, we DO have the solutions to climate change

Sometimes the battle against climate change seems hopeless, says Kathriona Devereux
Don’t despair, we DO have the solutions to climate change

ON YOUR BIKES: If a bicycle was good enough for Michael Collins, it’s surely good enough for us

LAST week, the World Meteorological Organisation published another stark report outlining how countries’ pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this decade need to be seven times higher to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and stop the world melting.

Lately, news like that makes me want to throw my hands up in the air, turn on the gas boiler, order a rake of cheeseburgers and milkshakes delivered by an SUV, and while away the time before my food arrives chopping down trees in my neighbourhood. It seems hopeless sometimes.

Instead of completely despairing, what keeps me going is knowing that we have the solutions to climate change at our fingertips. We just need to deploy them like our lives depend on it. Because many lives do.

1) Trees

Trees are the best option we have for sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and helping us achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Currently, Ireland has 11% of forestry cover against the European average of 45%.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-funded project calculated that Ireland needs to plant 25,000 hectares of trees per year to meet climate commitments. 

The Government has a target of 8,000 per year, but we are actually just planting 3,000 per year.

Ramping efforts to plant appropriate trees or protect landscapes to allow rewilding and tree regeneration should be an urgent priority.

2) Wind Turbines

Offshore wind turbines are enormous creations as tall as the London Eye, and one can power thousands of homes. The east coast of Ireland is ideal for wind farms to power energy-hungry Dublin. The west coast is perfect to harness the unrelenting wind of the Atlantic.

Ireland’s first offshore wind turbines were commissioned 18 years ago, but because of successive government inaction, we still only have five offshore turbines.

This Government has a target to have 5GW of power from offshore wind farms by 2030 and there are 50 offshore projects at preliminary phases, but progress is excruciatingly slow.

As we approach a winter of discontent, our lack of energy security has never been more obvious or our need for indigenous renewable energy so pressing.

3) Solar PV Panels

Solar PV panels are a bit of tech that you stick on your roof that turns sunlight into electricity which is used in your house, stored in a battery (if you have one) or sent back to the electricity grid for someone else to use.

A UCC study showed that putting six solar panels on the one million suitable Irish homes around the country would generate a quarter of all the electricity needed by Irish households.

4) Bikes

If cycling was good enough for our Irish revolutionaries to get around while fighting the British Empire, it should be good enough for us if we are popping out for some messages.

One in four journeys in the Netherlands is made by bike and in Amsterdam 70% of journeys are made by bike. The Dutch are not anatomically different to us, they just live in a country that has consistently invested in making cycling safe and disincentives car usage.

A bicycle is now a “tool to protect the environment,” according to the United Nations, so we really need to get on our bikes!

If you’d like more of these climate solutions in your immediate future, consider taking to the streets this Friday, September 23, to join the youth-led climate strike movement Fridays for Future’s latest global strike.

Protestors are calling on governments to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels, ensure climate justice and equity, and to listen to the best united science currently available.

You don’t have to identify as ‘youthful’ to take part, most people nowadays recognise that there is a climate emergency and immediate action is needed.

The Grand Parade at 12.30pm on Friday is the place to add your voice to the calls for action.

Secret Sound guessed - time to get on with our lives

In these hard times, you have to enjoy the moments of joy when they come round.

Last Thursday morning, my son burst into the bedroom screaming that Red FM’s secret sound had been won. Such was his exuberance, I was suspicious he was falsely raising my hopes, but he assured me he wasn’t pulling my leg and that someone had finally, FINALLY guessed the right answer.

In approximately the same amount of time it takes to grow a human baby, 38 weeks, the Cork public have heard many suggestions of what the sound could be - a dishwasher tablet being put in the machine, the push button on the board game Frustration, a tube of Pringles with a ping pong ball inside...

I had started to lose hope and was beginning to believe the secret sound would not be solved in my lifetime. We’d be handing the burden of discovery to the next generation.

So praise be for the astute ear of Khloe Dunne, from Watergrasshill, who successfully guessed that the sound was a petrol pump being set back into the cradle at the petrol station. Of course it was!

Presenters Rob, Ciara and Laura were riddled with excitement and goosebumps at gifting €4,500 to Khloe, who is renovating a house and no doubt will have the whole lot spent on tiles and grouting in no time. But this wasn’t just about the money, it was really about peace.

Listeners texted in congratulating Khloe on her achievement and thanking her for doing Cork a favour and releasing us from the torture of hearing the same thing day in and day out for nine months. 

Even Rob admitted it had driven him demented and he hoped the Secret Sound wouldn’t return any time soon.

It was a momentous and historic occasion celebrated in Cork kitchens, workplaces and cars sitting in traffic; we owe Khloe Dunne a debt of gratitude!

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