When A Plan Comes Together


From top: Evelyn Cusack, of Met Éireann, at the National Emergency Coordination Centre in Dublin: Dan Boyle

The candles do create a certain seductive charm, if only there was someone to seduce. Forty eight hours on, I remain painfully in thrall to the perils of living in an all electric house.

No heat, no light, no cooker, no fridge, no shower, no TV and most isolatingly of all, no router. I feel as if I’ve been catapulted back into the 1880s.

Structurally we’ve come through pretty unscathed. It was in the city where the most totemic events occurred – the gymnasium roof of Douglas Community School, or the Derrynane Stand at Turners Cross pitch.

Most gut wrenching was the twenty four trees felled at Centre Park Road. This particularly Cork boulevard, set in an industrial part of the city, will take a generation to regain its former glory.

There was some surprise that severe flooding didn’t accompany yet another extreme weather event. Some relief that threatened pieces of infrastructure survived the experience.

The beloved ‘Shakey’ suspension bridge shook and shook, yet remained above, and perpendicular to, the River Lee. Another win for Victorian engineering.

This time little anger is found alongside the shock of these events. There is a relief, and a sense of gratitude, that those entrusted with seeking to lessen the anticipated damage, have performed spectacularly well.

For this we can be thankful for the army of committed public servants, who seem to have ticked all the right boxes when it has come to public safety.

Some will claim this week’s events as a political success. They shouldn’t. Successive and ongoing governments have responsibility to provide sufficient resources to our emergency services. This particular responsibility has often been missed.

Emergency planning is an activity that demands expertise, both in the devising and implementation of plans. Given the transitory nature of their positions, politicians often lack such expertise. Politicians don’t initiate nor do they co-ordinate emergency plans.

At best politicians become communicators, an interface with the general public. With Storm Ophelia even this role has been rolled back on. Dedicated experts have been performing, helping to instill greater levels of public confidence.

While political credit shouldn’t be accepted, very often political criticism cannot be avoided. Former Labour Party leader (and Fine Gael TD) Michael O’Leary, would forever after bristle at earning the sobriquet ‘The Minister for Snow’ in 1981.

In 2009 then Green Party leader, John Gormley, saw all his Fianna Fáil cabinet colleagues run to the hills rather than be associated with the serious flooding of that year. Then Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, had to be embarrassed into returning early from a foreign holiday.

Previous experience, especially previous bad experience, has helped inform later disaster planning. This time around we seem to have got it more right than wrong.

Here’s to the next hurricane.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

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26 thoughts on “When A Plan Comes Together

  1. dav

    Fair comment Dan, for once in a blue moon I feel the state agencies got their act together, though it must be mentioned that it seems it took Bus Eireann (announcing on Saturday that they stopping the school buses from running) to prompt them to make their sunday announcements.

      1. Zuppy International

        Is the same article last week when it was conclusively demonstrated that you were spoofing through your bottom area?

        The least you can do Dan is show us that you know the difference between climate and weather.

        1. Dan Boyle

          Never made any allusion that weather was climate. The inability to differentiate between proactively promoting something and dealing with a side effect of otherwise excellent policy is yours not mine.

          1. Zuppy International

            So you now agree that one weather event does not equal climate disaster. In which case you should disavow the DeSmogUK article linked to above, and your own party’s pseudo-science approach to climate matters.

            But what’s this “perfect policy” of yours anyway? Is it the one with the Orwellian twist of declaring an environmental nutrient to be an environmental toxin?

            Is it the one that seeks to replace a functioning electric generating system with a more expensive less functional one? And all for the sake of your ‘Green Virtue’ signalling plus the massive public subsidies transferred to private entities because this so-called renewable technology would in no other way be viable?

            Is that what you’re “perfect policy” is about? Defrauding the public purse for the sake of obsolete technology and the companies that promote it?

          2. Listrade

            @ zuppy:

            ” Is it the one with the Orwellian twist of declaring an environmental nutrient to be an environmental toxin?”

            Are you stating as scientific fact that something cannot be a nutrient at certain levels and a toxin at other higher levels?

            You don’t have to answer now. Instead take a little challenge for today and post later (all being well). Water is not just a nutrient, but vital for human life. You can never have too much of a good thing right? So in the next hour drink 15 pints of water.

            Maybe the scientific consensus is wrong and water doesn’t have an LD 50, maybe you’re right and you can never have too much of a good thing. It’s not like living organisms need a balance of different nutrients within certain margins to thrive.

          3. Zuppy International

            Is all you got that tired old logical fallacy Listrade?

            For the last time: The semi-porous human body is not analogous to the open global climate system. (Unless you’re claiming that there is some kind of physical barrier between earth and space?)

          4. Gimme Shelter

            there is some kind of physical barrier between earth and space

            Yes listrade is looking directly into your brain zuppy

          5. Nigel

            Zuppy successfully demolishes the central pillar of the scientific theory behind climate change: that CO2 is bad for plants.

          6. Zuppy International

            Science Boo boos!!

            It is said that radiative gasses (RGs, or greenhouse gasses) trap heat radiated from the Earth’s surface causing it’s temperature to rise by 33K above the theoretical temperature with no atmosphere. The word ‘trap’ is misleading. RGs delay the radiative transmission of heat from surface to space. I estimate this delay and conclude that its average impact on atmospheric temperatures, the Radiative Delay Effect (RDE), is in the order of 0.14 [0.1 to 1] K. This result is then placed in the broader context of atmospheric thermodynamics where it complements recent work on the air-surface interaction. The combination leaves no significant role for carbon dioxide.


          7. Zuppy International

            I have a hunch that no amount of science will knock the dogma out of you Nigel; that’s what 40 years of intense social conditioning will do to you.

            I have great sympathy for the likes of yourself and Listrade, trapped in a bubble of fear that is not of you’re own making.

            I have nothing but contempt for the useful idiot politicians, however, who would seek to exploit these engineered fears to further their own careers and facilitate this huge and ongoing theft from the people’s treasure (which they are notionally bound to hold in trust for us).

            Shame on them, particularly those who can’t/won’t answer or understand the most elemental aspects of the science. Shame on them who constantly push fear for their own advantage.

          8. Listrade

            Better off saving your sympathy for things like scientific experiments. It’s easy to test the effects of CO2 On plants and so plenty have.

            Couple of problems. You reject the human body comparison, but with no basis other than you don’t like it. Tough. Organic life requires a balance with fine margins, that’s why it’s kinda rare in this solar system.

            Also. They’ve increased CO2 with plants. They bloom and grow…For a while. Nitrogen plateau. It’s an actual thing.

            And while they grow they need more water. That’ll be more competition for us for water.

            The growth also effects breeding and insect behaviour and insect population.

            We also have historical records from fossils and can see a boom AND bust for plant life with increased CO2. It confirms the actual experiments.

            You see the problem is that unlike the deniers, who do one experiment or take one piece of evidence and think they have a smoking gun, other more responsible scientists look at conflicting evidence with interest and test it. They have. The effect is short term and wouldn’t be too bad if you didn’t take other effects into account, like ocean acidification, potential for greater desert and arid areas.

            Your nutrient theory only benefits plants. The greenhouse effect of the gas is easily shown as is acidification. You’ll have a great crop of peas but maybe no water for them.

            Shove your sympathy and use that energy to extract head from anus. Take a tip from yourself and read beyond your own denial basis. Science is about scepticism. Every conflicting theory is tested. Nutrition has been thoroughly tested and shown to be a minor short term impact that is unlikely to be of benefit given everything else.

          9. Zuppy International

            Correction: There may in fact be a correlation between CO2 levels and temperature: but it is the opposite to the one usually sold to us: CO2 levels follow temperature rise, not the other way around.

            Human contribution to CO2 levels is about 1% of the annual amount exchanged between the atmosphere and the oceans every year. The oceans hold 5 times more CO2 then the atmosphere.

            If you really think that CO2 from the internal combustion engine is responsible for climate change then how do you explain the medieval warm period, or the Little Ice age? How do you explain the dust bowl in the 1930s USA or the global cooling in the 1970’s?

          10. Listrade

            Lots of points there Zuppy. Because of links will do separate to avoid moderation.

            First. Plants WILL use more water. They will be bigger ergo need more water. What you may be talking about is that their use of water is more efficient internally (they end up releasing less). But they will consume more, with less waste.

            Aquifers are drying up (http://www.economist.com/node/17199914) probably from human activity. There will also be a greater spread of desertification. Less areas with fresh water, bigger plants consuming more water and wasting less. Competition we won’t like. But nice big spuds though.

            Glad you issued your correction. CO2 does follow heating, it’s called a runaway greenhouse effect like on Venus. But CO2 also causes heating. In some cases it has lagged, it some cases it has been the cause of heating. It is disingenuous at best to state that CO2 has lagged behind all heating.

            The real problem for deniers is that they throw out this fact and don’t seem to have read the study (Shakun et al). You see all the stuff they also deny about the effect on glaciers, sea levels, acidification, that’s all confirmed in the same study. Anyway, w they found was that the orbital cycle of the earth did indeed trigger the initial warming. But more than 90% of the warming occured after that atmospheric CO2 increase. More CO2 in the atmosphere more heat.

            Not a million miles away from what people are saying.

          11. Zuppy International

            The Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age: ignored by the alarmists and Listrade alike because as historical facts they blow apart the dogma of catastrophe.

            Climate is always changing, sometimes even for the better

            But Listrade will ignore this. He lives in a bubble of fear and seems to prefer that to the truth (there is nothing wrong with the earth’s climate).

            Listrade wants no sympathy or assistance. He will vote for Dan Boyle and both of them will smugly think themselves better than the rest of us.

            Best of luck lads. I hope you’re happy together in your misery.

          12. Nigel

            You gotta wonder what it is about these papers that are so instantly and conclusively persuasive, but all the other papers that aren’t. Hmm.

          13. Listrade

            You’re some man Zuppy. We’ll keep this quiet and between ourselves because we don’t want to spoil your view of alarmists like me.

            Anyway, unfortunately no one is ignoring either medieval warming (MWP) or little ice age (LIA). In fact there’s been quite a lot of research and there is ongoing research. The reason they don’t yet enter the debate except as an anomaly from alarmists is because we still don’t really know what happened.

            We have Carbon-14 data that shows in the former the sun activity was warmer and in the latter cooler. That’s one data point and there is some correlation there with past climate activity. Note the sun has been cooler in this last warming period, so is unlikely the cause of current rises in temperature (but we all know that’s all alarmist bull anyway. Who cares what actual temperature recordings show). Plenty of research there though if you want to look. Warning though it may contradict your view on me and scientists in that it isn’t being ignored at all. Avoid if you don’t want the dissonance car crash of scientists doing science before giving a scientific opinion.

            We know that there was some volcanic activity too before LIA. That might have had an additional effect along with less sun.

            Some research has recorded a slowing of thermohaline circulation (ocean current circulation). Might have been because the MWP cause ice caps to melt and thus more fresh water in the ocean. But that’s a big might.

            And some papers have suggested that it could even be linked to the large population loss from the Black Death (less agriculture, etc). I don’t think that has that much support though.

            Could be one, could be them all. The scientific consensus is: Dunno, let’s keep researching until we do know and avoid making conclusive statements just yet.

            The closest correlation seems to be the drop in sun activity after the MWP and it’s eventual rise. The LIA corresponds quite closely to that. But the reason alarmists don’t mention it that much (except they do, all the time and raise it as an anomaly and research it and publish papers on it) is because it’s considered bad form to use a correlation we can’t explain as absolute fact.

            However, if you have any more powerpoint slides you’d like to link to that reject arguments without any link to scientific reasoning, I’m all eyes.

            Oh, last. Sorry Zuppy I never voted for Dan (sorry Dan) or the Greens. I was always Progressive Democrat*

            *last part might not be true.

          14. Zuppy International

            Fair play Listrade, you’ve come a long way from relying on a naturally occurring and essential trace gas (CO2 at 400 parts per million) and it’s minuscule human-induced component (1% of the total yearly CO2 exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans) as the main agent of climate change.

            As you’ve described, the natural cycles of the sun and how its varying energy output interacts with the earth, wind currents and the asynchronous cycles of the major oceans (churning hot and cold water on a decade long oscillation) is a much more plausible driver of climate cycles than the CO2 bogeyman.

    1. Otis Blue

      That’s a really good article.

      With agriculture making up a third of GHG emissions don’t expect any Irish politician to tackle this problem head n anytime soon. AFAIK the writer is a son of a former Minister for Agriculture so knows the score.

      Also, given his constituency, will hardly seek to address the turf cutting/ peat burning issue.

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