From top: A Mini car driving through flood water in Salthill, Galway, as Storm Eleanor hit Ireland on January 2; Dan Boyle
Two days into the new year brings with them two storms. There is no novelty in recognising that the only predictable thing about the Irish weather is its very unpredictability.
Now is not the time for smugness. Sadness and justified anger should be the predominant emotions. Climate Change has been researched, recorded and its effects have been anticipated for more than forty years.
We can’t say we haven’t been warned. The antipathy of a vocal, ignorant and sadly far too powerful minority, hasn’t helped. When I see how Conor Skehan, retiring chair of the Housing Agency, views the issue he was supposed to working towards solving, then it isn’t surprising to realise that he is also a climate change sceptic.
We sadly still live in a world, where to oppose change, or to seek to maintain unfairness or injustice, is a better passport to seek position, and thus the ability to hinder progress, in what we dare call the ‘developed’ World.
If it hasn’t been outright opposition, it has been the push it down the road attitude, that has most permeated official responses to threats to the natural environment, and to the planet itself.
I have myself leaning, against my better instincts, more and more towards direct confrontation against those troglodytes, through whose antipathy or indifference, have helped bring us to where we are.
I am not going to listen to statements like “we’re too small a country to make a difference” anymore. Our carbon emissions per head of population is one of the highest in the World, and they are going in the wrong direction.
Nor do I want to hear that there are more important priorities. Every important economic and social priority can be and should be linked to how we deal with climate change.
We should be building new houses designed to prevent future fuel poverty. We should be creating energy through maximising our renewable resources, also enhancing community benefit, wherever possible through community ownership. We should be properly subventing our public transport systems to help prevent the number of single person vehicle traffic.
Each one of these policies initiatives would result in win win scenarios that would work towards meeting our climate change commitments, and improve the state of our economy. If done as part of a holistic suite of policy measures, we may even see better health outcomes.
It isn’t accidental that it is among right wingers where climate change denial is most prevalent. Conservatives want to maintain the status quo. They are most protective of the vested interests in whose interest the status quo is being maintained.They fear, rightly, the redistributive aspect of climate change policies.
The sharing of proportionate responsibility between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations, would see ‘developing’ World countries increase their capacity and thus improve global trade.
Within developed and developing nations redistribution of environmental responsibility must be used as a trigger to achieve better equality in society.
For those whose instant response will be why the Greens didn’t achieve this in three and a half years in government, consumed with dealing with an economic collapse, I can only say:
You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. If not, we might become a bit more than mildly agitated.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Pic: Galway Latin Quarter
Dan Boyle’s new book ‘Making Up The Numbers – Smaller Parties and Independents in Irish Politics‘ published by the History Press is available at all good bookstores now.