From top: A Curlew chick is rescued from Lough Neagh last September. More birds like the curlew than ever before are now Red-listed on the island of Ireland, indicating the highest status of concern for their populations; Dan Boyle
Last week a report was published. Yet another report. A report on compromised biodiversity. A report on species loss to the point of extinction.
The report was jointly published by BirdWatch Ireland and the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds (Northern Ireland).
It showed an almost 50% increase in the number of bird species now threatened in the eight years since the last survey. Almost two thirds of all bird species on the island of Ireland are now thought to be at risk.
Among these are birds such as the Kestral, the Puffin and the poster bird for threatened extinction, the Curlew.
Over a fifty year period the Curlew has reduced from eight thousand breeding pairs to a current level of one hundred and thirty five pairs.
A belated protection programme has been put in place but at best this will restore numbers from impossibly small to small.
There can be no doubt that the main contributor to this decline has been agricultural and fishing practices. Both areas have been guilty of a relentlessness to eke out maximum yield.
To achieve these close on diabolical goals has seen the widespread removal of habitats, a literal killing field of wild life.
These biodiversity indicators should invoke panic as to what type of World we are encouraging. At the very least they should invoke an important and prioritised debate.
Our national broadcaster seems to have decided otherwise. Its news division has stuck to its tried and tested practice of largely ignoring reports of this nature (deliberate pun).
RTÉ after all is a broadcaster who seems to think that Michael Healy Rae is a valid counterpoint on matters environmental.
The equivalent broadcaster in Northern Ireland, the BBC, chose to highlight the report, an obvious different set of priorities.
What RTÉ, and other august Irish media organisations don’t seem to accept is that climate/environmental issues are as much life and death as any perceived bread and butter issue.
The quality of habitats, the standard of biodiversity, are the very variants of life. If they are not healthy life itself cannot healthy.
These are issues that deserve more than specialist programmes. They must be core elements in news and current affairs.
Because they are issues that result from long term decline, and there is a collective responsibility, editors deem that these issues are not sufficiently ‘sexy’.
What is found with our national broadcaster is also lacking with major newspapers. These are issues that should figure more predominantly on the front pages rather than be hidden inside most publications.
These are deliberate editorial decisions. There are many journalists, particularly younger journalists, who want to ask these questions and write these stories.
There is an audience for such stories but more importantly there is a public that needs to know.
Habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, threatened species extinction, air and water quality are significant parts of an extensive agenda. Not a fringe agenda, a quality of life agenda.
It isn’t just for the birds you know.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Pic via Country Living