Dan Boyle: The Earth Is On Fire But The World Isn’t On Fire About It


From top: Activists highlight the government’s ‘attitude to Climate Change’ on Sandymount Strand, Sandymount, Dublin 4 in 2015; Dan Boyle

It’s no biggie. Only the most important issue of our time. A planet defining issue on which the long term, accumulated scientific research is ever more accurately and specifically describing what collective inaction will bring about.

The targets have become tighter and thus more difficult to reach. The timeline to be doing something is becoming ever shorter.

At a time when data has never been clearer nor the choices that need to be made known, we remain static continuing to give credence to those whose opposition is instinctive, irrational and strongly rooted in self interest.

Sometime I live in hope that Climate Change can be presented as it is and not how others want it to be.

This week I watched Evan Davies on BBC 2 eviscerate a former Trump ‘environmental’ advisor, Myron Bell. It made a pleasant change of approach to see a climate change denier being challenged strongly to justify their scepticism.

Certainly different than, for the sake of ‘balance’, pretending that that there has been some kind of intellectual equivalence between accepting the reality of Climate Change or not.

Listening to comments on Ivan Yates’ Newstalk radio programme, my mood become less sanguine.

One thing that became apparent is that the programme, and the station, seems to have wrapped up the audience of angry BMW drivers.

What about China and India?”, the texters shriek. “How can a small island like ours ever make a difference?“, is asked as if it represents some great wisdom.

In Ireland we consume more CO2 per person than either of those countries. With China, in particular, its population is equal to that of Europe and North America combined. The European/North American axis produces far more CO2 than China does.

We have a moral obligation to act first and act quickly. The Duke of York routine being shared by An Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance of marching up the hill of environmental righteousness, only to skulk back down again, is not only tiresome it is quickly becoming close to criminal.

Ireland has agreed to meet certain targets under an agreed EU programme of carbon reduction limits.

Despite being given very advantageous terms, Ireland will spectacularly fail to meet those targets. Ireland currently lies 27th of 28 EU countries in our response to carbon reductions.

This will result in Ireland having to pay hundreds of millions of euro in fines to the EU in lieu of our failure to live up to our climate responsibilities. These payments will make moot the raising of any carbon levy, or the establishment of any rainy day (pardon the pun) fund.

We get only one crack at this. We need leadership rather than political spinelessness. We need rigour and commitment in place of lethargy and indifference. We need long term decision making instead of short term contingencies.

At the end of it all, before the end of it all, we need to stop treating the issue of Climate Change as if it were all just one big inconvenience.

To paraphrase Bill Shankly when talking about football – It’s more important than that.

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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77 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: The Earth Is On Fire But The World Isn’t On Fire About It

  1. SOQ

    Dan, is it not the case that our metrics are skewed because we have a lot of cows? If so, is it not a bit disingenuous to suggest that the problem lies with the country as a whole?

    1. johnny

      yes most studies and science strips out the effects from bovines,your flatulence daily actually hourly on here is also major contributor, any chance you could in the interests of sanity ,stick to topics your vaguely familiar with…

        1. Johnny

          Don’t hold your breath for any answer,the “question” is a breathtaking display of your ignorance,it’s astounding that a grown up in 2018 would actually write that,then defend it-read something.
          It your point (haha) that cows are distorting the “math” here for Ireland – are you really stating that,is there a Darwin Award around here.

          1. SOQ

            The EPA INCLUDE arigiculture in their figures and clearly state that agriculture, especially dairy, is the single biggest contribution to Irelands failure to meet its targets. But what would the EPA know eh?

          2. Johnny

            Your faced with a dilemma here….
            “Dan, is it not the case that our metrics are skewed because we have a lot of cows?“

            Slink away after a few more of your childish,playground taunts and name calling or back up your ridiculous statement-which “metrics” specifically today are you referencing ?

            Feeling lucky there sport ?

          3. SOQ

            Well if my asking a genuine question to Dan, whom I have a lot of time for btw, translates in your mind into childish,playground taunts and name calling then yeah, nothing personal there at all.

            Dan, I don’t think The Greens are doing themselves any favours by using such stats to brow beat the populace of a country with no over average levels of pollution.

            People are happy to recycle because you don’t have to be an environmental scientist to know that it is a good thing. We are contributing something but when you (The Greens) keep preaching about targets without explaining why Ireland rates so high, you will lose that good will.

            We are a relatively clean country but we also have a large agricultural sector which skews those figures. I know it is not politically expedient for you to state that but the general public are not stupid and no amount of black light from ugly energy saving light-bulbs is going to make a blind bit of difference.

            Best wishes and do keep writing, despite the troll named oille/johnny

          4. SOQ

            Here is an idea Dan. How about explaining why the reclaiming of derelict buildings in the city centres or close by is environmentally a good thing? Common sense always wins more voters than ‘from on high’.

          5. johnny

            I’m referring specifically to this!

            “I was talking to the organ grinder?”

            So once again you’ve no actual data or facts,or figures just the usual load of muddled and messed up thinking.You insult other posters but cry foul when you get an appropriate response, or evoke the site owners name implying that you have some relationship with him,which clearly you don’t….

            What does this even mean-its illogical the musings of an ill educated dunce, with way too much time on his hands-we should blame the marauding herds of wild cows then !

            “If so, is it not a bit disingenuous to suggest that the problem lies with the country as a whole?”

            If you want contact Dan directly perhaps he will give you his contact info otherwise your posting on a public forum, stay in your lane and I’m happy stay in mine:)

          6. Johnny

            Thanks “please”,should have update on Digi and Ireland Funds next few days.
            Not much happening this week,so mainly housekeeping or FYI bits on both them.
            Agreed,but at times I think there’s some Scillian in me-in so much as some dishes are best served cold….

    2. Nigel

      We are primarily an agricultural country, and government policy has determined herd size, which has been increased to disastrous effect given the feed shortage brought about by the bad winter and the drought. Which is to say you can contact your local elected representatives with your concerns whether or not you are a farmer.

          1. Johnny

            More hemp and who or what is the opposition to legalizing weed in Irl,it’s happening in the UK and the rest EU-it’s widely available in most US states,either via very loosely defined medical cards or rec dispensaries/online.In NY the entire downtown stank off weed all summer,who or what is opposing a fantastic opportunity to develop a new major industry ?

          2. Nigel

            I know there are a few small hemp farms around. but you need a license and they are hard to come by. The stuff is a miracle plant, aside entirely from the Weed aspect, and we really are idiots not to exploit it more.

          3. Johnny

            -working on a project in the Berkshires,converting an old mill into one the largest vertically integrated outdoor/greenhouse/indoor growing and extracting operations in NE.
            Hydro power,bio-fuel from the hemp,solar and robotics it’s where Ireland should be moving towards.I don’t understand what or who is opposing Ireland becoming a major player in this space,the Canadian weed companies are flush with cash and desperate for international expansion,would happily Joint Venture with Irish companies,such a wasted opportunity.

          4. Nigel

            That sounds incredibly cool. if I had to guess about opposition – there’s a heavy inertia in Irish agriculture and resistance to change, despite most of the farmers I know being pretty clued-in to environmental issues. The big farming associations just don’t want to know unless there’s massive subsidies coming with it.

          5. johnny

            Its lots fun-in the interests off full disclosure I work in the indoor farming industry.Most the cultivators/growers are very ‘eco’ they want renewable energy etc.Its a big business in the States now and Canada.I’ve spent quite a bit time in Aspen (ski bum) and what the state of Colorado has done is a great template for Ireland.
            Colorado a smallish US state collected over 200 million in taxes-with 100 million going to public schools, its a 3 Billion industry in that state alone.
            Some facts and figures on the industry.

          6. johnny

            As always enjoyed the exchange Nigel (got Oirechtas TV on here now-wow).

            Arthur Beesley in FT yesterday addressed the funding shortfall in education, this could be resolved by legalizing and taxing marijuana.

            “With the population forecast to rise by almost one million people to 5.75m by 2040, Irish schools and universities will face fresh demands for decades to come.”

  2. dav

    Dan I recall a series of programmes on BBC (RTE did something similar) in the early naughties called “future shocks”. I’m not sure if one of them dealt with climate change (I’m sure 1 did) but another dealt with a future where the younger generation was at a fundamental disadvantage to the generations that preceded them with regards to jobs, wealth education etc and they ultimately they rebelled/rioted because they saw how the greed of the previous generation(s) had ruined things for the future.
    I suspect something similar will occur within the next 50years..

  3. small ads

    The government could start with a few things:

    1: build its own planned Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network (launched with great hoo-hah https://www.engineersireland.ie/Communications/Engineer-TV-Archive/Greater-Dublin-Area-Cycle-Network-Plan.aspx five years ago and now gathering dust on a back shelf). Building this would cut the number of polluting cars being driven through the capital – which, considering that 69% of all car journeys in Ireland involve just the driver alone in the car, would clear the streets for a good, speedy, efficient public transport service.

    2: make that public transport service one-price for between the canals – this is the norm in Paris, where you buy a carnet of tickets for €15, and each ticket can be used for a journey – or more than one journey if they’re within 90 minutes – in central Paris.

    3: institute a scheme for solar thermal panels where a householder could put up, say, €1,000, and get a State non-interest loan for the rest, which would be paid back over several years. I think (Dan will know the figure) that a third of Irish domestic electricity bills are for heating water, so this would cut a hell of a lot of our electricity use – freeing more up for industry and meaning less turf has to be burned by our high-tech power stations.

    4: institute a realistic scheme for insulation of semi-Ds – at the moment, external insulation on a 1930s semi-detached house costs €12,000 after the grant. I don’t know many people with €12k in their back pocket. Again, properly insulated homes would cut out carbon footprint enormously.

    5: really take a run at horticultural training and funding of greenhouses, walled market gardens, orchards, etc, so that farmers could gradually cut the amount of beef they’re producing.

    1. johnny

      -well they just raised (added to your debts)3 Billion yesterday to fund this-the NTMA issued Irelands first green bond, thats the good news.
      -bad news is its the NTMA-they probably just give it to the yanks,like they did with all of your assets in NAMA.

      “The sale of the 12-year bond attracted strong demand, with around 95% of the investment coming from non-Irish investors. The offering was launched by the NTMA in order to diversify its issuance and gain access to a new investor category. Funds from it will be for green projects addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, water and natural resources depletion and the reduction of air pollution, NTMA said on announcing plans for the issue last month.”


    2. Eoin O'Cionna

      I agree with your points (1) (2) (4) and (5) but not (3).
      Currently our electricity is 2/3rds from fossil fuels. We’re even burning turf in 3 stations, with 350MW between ’em which is shocking!
      To reach zero emissions, we need to electrify everything: cars, trucks, trains, even planes. That’s doubling and even tripling the existing capacity of our grid, with an emission-free source of electricity.
      The legacy of *not* doing Carnsore Point nuclear power station in the 70s rumbles on: Ireland barely going to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and in the meantime hundreds have died from the effects of the Moneypoint coal-fired power station (background reading http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/).
      Which means Ireland should build about 15 conventional nuclear power plants of 1GW each over the next ten years or about 300 small modular reactors of say 50 MW each will do it nicely (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor) starting when they are available.
      Before you reply, please check out: http://www.radiationandreason.com/
      and http://environmentalprogress.org/
      Note: I remember going on board the nuclear powered ship SN Savannah when it came to Dublin in 1964. It tied up at Alexandra Dock – http://www.irishships.com/nssavannah.html. It had a 78 MW reactor on board that represented c.10% of the 26-counties electricity capacity at the time! Had nuclear power sources been adopted, huge amounts of bunker burning by world shipping would have been avoided. That’s another topic.

      1. johnny

        Regarding 5-the irish govt is blowing a once in a lifetime opportunity to become the center of marijuana cultivation in the EU,for medical and rec use,also the cultivation of Hemp.
        In the US they have big Ag,big Pharma and now big corporations clamoring to invest, its grown outdoors,greenhouses and indoors in grow houses.Great source of revenue and employment,Ireland has EVERYTHING it needs to grow a major industry,excpet a modern forward thinking govt.

        1. Eoin O'Cionna

          Photo-voltaic solar panels are a great thing, I agree, but you’ll find they don’t work at night ;) and get much less sun in Winter.
          If they’re fixed to a roof then they’re not at the best angle but if you make them track the sun that takes more money. And there is dust and leaves to consider. That said, sunshine is free free free, so who cares if they’re 10% efficient…the magic ingredient for Solar and Wind is battery storage which can store the power generated for days at least (weeks if poss).
          Which you’ll know is coming along but still has a long way to go.
          ITER fusion reactor looks good, but my point is it took France 10 years to add 50 huge plants (!) which makes their electricity among the cleanest and lowest carbon emitting in the world. We’d need to build at a 15% of that pace to have a de-carbonised grid by 2028. With today’s knowledge we could do better, the problem is political and regulatory.

          1. small ads

            Actually I’m talking about thermal solar.

            But PV are now something like 800% more efficient than they used to be, or so I’m told. Irish people have started using them now.

            (Thermal solar heat water, photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity.)

  4. Leon Down

    BTW Dan,

    People don’t consume CO2, plants do.

    People exhale CO2: it’s our waste but Plants’ nutrient.

    You can’t even get the basics correct.

    1. Nigel

      Leon is pretending he doesn’t know that ‘carbon consumption’ in this context refers to the amount of carbon generated by the energy we use to drive our cars, heat our homes etc, etc. Or maybe he really doesn’t know that.

      1. Leon Down

        Humans consume hydrocarbons for fuel and plant based cellulose – or things that consume plant based cellulose – for food. CO2 is the beneficial by product of these benign human activities.

        CO2 is the catalyst for life through the action of photosynthesis.

        Science-fiction-based-alarmism denies this scientific truth.

        1. Nigel

          You sound like you’re reciting tenets of religious dogma. ‘A thing that is good cannot also be bad.’ Presumably this is why you also deny that oxygen causes rust.

          1. Nigel

            So you agree that a thing that is beneficial can also have effects that are non-beneficial or even harmful?

    2. dav

      I do hope leon is also into denying vaccinations, good dose of the mumps or small pox should sort him out.

  5. postmanpat

    During the horrendous bumper to bumper commute to work this week, I noticed a huge increase in SUV / Jeep type Celtic tiger tosser vehicles clogging up the road. A good few years back there was this short lived fad where people were sticking stickers to these tossers windows in traffic and parking spots and the text on them explained the amount of pollution these things produce. Maybe its something we should start doing again?

          1. Leon Down

            Not surprising. Hypocrisy is the hallmark of communism.

            Now explain why people who don’t buy your scientific fraud should be criminalised.

            What, in your opinion, is the appropriate penalty for such ‘wrongthink’?

          2. Leon Down

            BTW, the link you posted claiming…

            “Evan Davies on BBC 2 eviscerate[s] a former Trump ‘environmental’ advisor, Myron Bell”…

            …shows nothing of the sort.

            Would you care to post a link to the full interview?

  6. Dhaughton99

    They are blooming everywhere. 20 council houses were built beside my estate and families moved in around July this year. No word of a lie, I counted 11 four wheel drives parked in the gardens last night.

  7. ollie

    Not sure if I believe in Global warming but we do need to move to sustainable energy.
    How can a small island like ours ever make a difference?“,
    Like it or not, we can’t make a difference. We produce 0.13% of global greenhouse gas, China produces 25%.

    1. edalicious

      Yeah but you can’t complain about other countries polluting when your per capita CO2 production is higher than theirs. Lead by example rather than do as I say, not as I do.

  8. Jeffrey

    With the urgency at hand the best thing we can do is shout about those 100 companies listed above. Or just shout at China, you know, the main actor in this.

  9. Leon Down

    In this column Dan implies anybody who disagrees with him is a potential criminal.

    He refuses to elaborate or explain.

    This is an act of disingenuous gaslighting with a peculiarly mega-maniacal arrogance from a man who seeks public office.

  10. Giggidygoo

    Dan, your credence and the credence of the Green Party went out the window when the reason Gormley gave for ending the FF/ Green government was ‘the failure of FF to deal with its leadership problem’. Not the mess that FF, aided and abetted by your good selves in the final two years, made of the economy. Get off the stage.

    1. Dan Boyle

      That’s a pretty obscure and dishonest reason for you not wanting the country to play its part in dealing with climate change.

      1. Leon Down

        “Play it’s part” – you mean pay more taxes.

        Taxes don’t change the climate Dan. Who’s being dishonest now?

        [Does this comment make me a criminal in your eyes?]

        1. Cian

          Taxes change behaviour.
          Changed behaviour affects the planet.
          Changes to the planet affect the climate.

          1. Leon Down

            Taxes changes behaviour?

            Any proof of that? (Tobacco/Alcohol?)

            In the case of CO2 there in no proven causal link between CO2 and climate (only scammers and fools claim there is – the IPCC has been working off flawed data sets).

            So how will the Carbon Tax “change the planet to affect the climate”?

            Somebody is making a fool of you.

            By your Taxation logic, and as CO2 is a proven benefit to the natural environment, shouldn’t we get Tax relief for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere?

      2. Giggidygoo

        No, it ain’t. Its a comment that refers to not trusting anything the Greens say. And that includes your musings.

  11. Leon Down

    Huge problems discovered in an analysis of the Temperature data set used by IPCC to push the Global Warming scam.

    “There are cases of tropical islands recording a monthly average of zero degrees — this is the mean of the daily highs and lows for the month. A spot in Romania spent one whole month averaging minus 45 degrees. One site in Colombia recorded three months of over 80 degrees C. That is so incredibly hot that even the minimums there were probably hotter than the hottest day on Earth. In some cases boats on dry land seemingly recorded ocean temperatures from as far as 100km inland The only explanation that could make sense is that Fahrenheit temperatures were mistaken for Celsius, and for the next seventy years at the CRU no one noticed.”


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