CLIMATE CHANGE

I don’t know about you but I’m still in a state of shock that climate change hit the UK in such dramatic fashion.  The aerial footage of those houses in Wennington, Greater London ended up being broadcast on CNN and hence world-wide.   Different weather patterns and that could easily have been a row of houses in Dublin.  There are heat waves in Europe and the US.  We are looking at our future and it is global.  What we do here in Ireland has implications elsewhere and vice versa.  That, of course, is part of the problem.  Because, for example, we have no influence over emissions in China, India or the U.S. but we do share the same atmosphere, hence all the more important we hit our targets and here we have a big problem.  For 11 years in a row the dairy herd has increased.  Cows belch out methane which warms the atmosphere 28 times the rate of CO2.  I’ve nothing against dairy farmers but the headlong expansion of this sector has been worrisome for some time.  Farmers and landowners are going to face many challenges in the years ahead.  As for my own involvement, I now think very much in the context of future generations.  When I started off in 1976 one of my primary objections was to plant trees.  They provide an excellent carbon sink and now over 40 years later will provide a profit.  I’m delighted to say my son has continued in the same vein.    However agriculture is not the only source of the emissions.  Is it not extraordinary that successive governments which have welcomed data centres with open arms have failed to understand the full implications of the fact that they consume vast amounts of electricity?  So how is this power going to be provided ?  We are still dependent on coal-burning Moneypoint – not very 21st century and certainly not very green.  This column has said it before in as many words, wind and wave power are for the future.

If thinking about climate change is raising your anxiety levels, how about the machinations of the personification of evil, Vladimir Putin.  One of the ruses that Vlad the Bad has been using to evade Western sanctions over oil exports is the use of “ a ghost armada” of tankers, which switch off their GPS systems the moment they put to sea.  The Iranians have been helping the Russians with this key objective.  This week Vlad travelled to Tehran to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  Now this is where it gets really disturbing, conjuring up my childhood nightmares.  We all know the Iranians are trying to become a nuclear power.  What if Vlad the Bad, controller of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, gives them the bomb.  After all Iran is giving him a lifeline to sell oil to fuel his nightmarish war against Ukraine and pursue his dream of a greater Russia.  It really does present an “unholy alliance” that would be pitted against the Western democracies.  Putin also went to Turkey where much to the amusement of the assembled media he was kept waiting to see President Erdogan.  The United Nations and Turkey have been working on a deal to allow the movement of Russian and Ukrainian grain.  Let’s hope it works.  By any measure, this has been a disturbing week, so good news would be welcome.