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Week 3: Climate Change

Last week we saw how the industrial revolution started our over-dependence on fossil fuels. Now, more than two hundred years later we are facing our toughest crisis, Climate Change. “Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change (10-2-11). Since the start of industralisation human impact has left our planet in a perilous state. “The oceans are warming, glaciers disappearing, and the natural world is in sharp decline.” http://www.climatechange.ie/ (11-2-11).

The more our population increases the more energy consumption grows. In week one, we learned that the population is set to hit seven billion this year. This makes me question the impact on energy consumption and climate as these are all interconnected. India and China are also aspiring to become industralised like the first world countries. This would nearly be impossible as Matthew Simmons believed that Saudi Arabia was not telling the world the truth about their oil. He believed that the oil reserve had already peaked.

I believe, along with many others, that we are entering the stage of scarcity pricing which will destroy India and China’s dream of industralisation unless they can become energy independent and not fossil fuel dependant. This is also the challenge for us in Ireland to become energy self sufficient.
The evidence is clear and many scientists are agreed on the impacts of climate change. Temperature s has been recorded since the 1800’s. The January to November 2010 temperatures are the warmest in 130 years due no doubt to CO2 emissions.

“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.” IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers, p. 9 (11-2-11)
The evidence is compelling with rising sea levels, increases in global temperatures, warming oceans and shrinking ice sheets and that’s just mentioning the more talked about effects.

What are the consequences for us in Ireland? It is predicted that the climate will become warmer especially in the east and south, the winters will become wetter and the summers drier and the sea levels will rise and become warmer.

Again we are challenged to respond…

The most thought provoking lecture this week was the one on Spirit of Ireland. We learned that Spirit of Ireland is a group of people coming together believing that we ourselves have the solutions. They believe we have the imagination, the skills and of course the energy to resolve our problems for now and the future. We were provided with information on a Hydro Storage Reservoir that is being pioneered for Kerry. This hydro storage reservoir would permit the storage of Natural Energy from the wind. This was a fascinating concept as prior to this many of us believed that we could not control the wind to be a constant source of energy. This seemed like a perfect sustainable development. Reality kicked in as we looked at the actual possibility of this being viable for Ireland and the local community in Kerry. There was much discussion on the cost of the development and funding in the current economic climate. Also many people were concerned that the local people would not be given the chance to benefit from the work. As with our previous discussions we realized that not just humans were affected by any development (sustainable or other wise). This would affect the natural flora and fauna which we know from last week would alter the connections in the web of life and habitats would be destroyed. We came to the conclusion that there are positives and negatives to this development and that like the stone thrown into the pond the ripples spread further than can be seen by the naked eye. I am beginning to believe that there is always going to be differing opinions and even when a solution is reached it will never suit everyone. The challenge seems to be to find a response that is sustainable and is the least harmful to the connections on the planet.
Scientists have known about the impact of climate change “with virtual certainty for decades, but getting the message through to political and economic elites has been agonisingly slow.” http://www.climatechange.ie/features_articles24_IT.html (11-2-11). We have begun to realize why!

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