At a centre of any criticisms I hear about the Health Service lies one central fact, it is a re-active rather than a pro-active entity. Let me cite one blatantly obvious example. It was clear that as soon as they were available, booster shots should have been given to frontline care workers. This was both to protect them and the patients they encounter. Instead we had to wait for NIAC to convene and then in turn a decision to be made by the Minister. In the meantime, doses were in danger of going to waste. We should not tolerate this inertia so we are back to the countdown to Christmas and this time I would like to see it meaningful in a less painful way. I urge you all to be restrained in your social activity and heed the words of wisdom uttered by the CMO Dr. Tony Holohan and “ration” your number of contacts. It is also back to basics, wearing masks and washing hands. Finally, to the unvaccinated. To my astonishment I discovered that I knew a few who were resisting the jab. I’m glad and relieved to say they have now relented. I’m told that one of the reasons was they found their movements were restricted by the lack of a vaccine certificate. This is added confirmation as to why it is so important for hospitality venues to ask for certificates before granting entry. The unvaccinated are not only endangering their own lives but also those of the vulnerable. They are disproportionally occupying beds in ICU. They need to wise up.
So the great Green revolution is upon us. It is difficult to know where to start except perhaps with trees. I definitely qualify as a tree-hugger. I have always regarded them as the lungs of the earth. Since 1977 I have planted thousands of trees on the Slane Estate and will even confess to hugging a young copper beech on my daily walk. My eldest son has continued in the same vein. I was thrilled when 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. However, cynics might point to the New York Declaration of Forests signed in 2014 which ended in failure. Somehow this time it feels very different. The big players like Russia and Brazil are behind this and key to it all is significant funding. I genuinely believe that Cop26 in Glasgow has contained that vital component to change – momentum. Sticking to trees and Brazil in particular the problems thrown up are enormous, illegal logging, land-hungry cattle ranchers and the needs of indigenous peoples. At the end of the day the future of the Amazon is the future of the planet.
This, of course, impacts on us all, as every being in the world shares the same atmosphere. The transition to an entirely new way of life is going to throw up many challenges. Take electric vehicles. This week I watched a very disturbing item on Channel 4 Unreported World on the mining of cobalt in the Congo. An important constituent in batteries, its extraction is often done in perilous conditions and wide-spread contamination can lead to serious birth defects. Going Green does not always mean being clean. This revolution will throw up many challenges apart from the size of the national herd.