Temperature records have shown that 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have occurred since the year 2000. To argue about this is to argue with a thermometer – These are the recorded facts and they stand for themselves. The last 5 years form the top 5 of the hottest years on record.
Extreme weather events are occurring on a regular basis now and this is projected not only to continue but to get significantly worse. We cannot stop climate change, but we can and must take action to limit global warming in order to avoid the worst effects that climate change can bring.
The European Union has previously stated that “Global warming has to be limited to below 2°C compared to the average temperature in pre-industrial times to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change and possibly catastrophic changes in the global environment.” With updated information provided by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) – This ambition is now to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C!
What this means is that the world must stop the growth in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and reduce them by 60% by 2050 compared with 2010.
The latest scientific evidence suggests that, if little or no action is taken to reduce global emissions, by the end of this century global warming is likely to exceed the 2°C target and could be as much as 5°C. This would have unprecedented consequences for society on all levels.
195 countries around the world have accepted these facts and the need for urgent action. The realisation is also becoming more apparent that governments alone will not solve the climate crisis that we face. As individuals and as communities, we will all have to play our part.
Climate Change and Ireland
On the 9th of May this year, Ireland declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency. We have all seen the effects of climate change and we have seen the decrease in the numbers of bees and other insects.
Young people across Ireland and Europe are also realising that their future quality of life is in the balance. There is a growing understanding that governments alone will not solve this problem and that we cannot bury our heads in the sand. To do this would be to steal an inherent right from our young people – the right to live in a sustainable world.
Ireland will not be immune to the effects of climate change and as an Island, on the edge of the Atlantic, it is forecasted that we will suffer more extreme weather events on a more frequent basis. Essentially, global warming is leading to warmer sea temperatures and a decrease in the strength of the Gulf Stream (an ocean current that passes by the west coast of Ireland). What we have recently started seeing is these factors combining and resulting in extreme weather events. With global temperatures increasing, the energy in the atmosphere will also increase which will lead to a significant change in our climate.
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2019 outlines the need for Ireland to embrace climate action and to adopt a collective and individual willingness to ‘tackle climate breakdown’. A fundamental part of this plan is to generate 70% of our electricity from renewables by 2030 and it is accepted that further development of onshore wind energy will be required in order to achieve these targets.
There is no doubt remaining that Climate Change is a very real and immediate threat to our way of life. Climate change, which comes as a result of global warming has the potential to have massive and permanent ramifications for our climate and way of life.
Extreme Weather in recent times
- April ’19 – Storm Hannah – Red wind warnings in Clare and Kerry
- April ’19 – 20oC temperatures in mid-April
- Sept’ 18 – Storm Ali led to 2 fatalities in Ireland
- June ’18 – Severe drought conditions and 40-year temperature highs.
- March ’18 – The Beast from the East – Blizzard Conditions and snow drifts.
- October ’17 – Storm Ophelia caused extensive damage across the country.
Other recent weather events include:
-> Prolonged repressed temperatures leading to the fodder crisis for farmers across the country.
-> Severe Atlantic storms leading to extensive coastal damage all along the western seaboard.
Climate Action Recommendations
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
When the 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was asked to tell them what action was needed for the world to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and what might happen if the world would fail to do so.
Science has now given us the answer and it is a clear one:
The Special Report confirms that limiting climate change to 1.5°C is necessary to avoid the worst impacts and reduce the likelihood of extreme weather events. It demonstrates that human-induced global warming has already reached 1°C above preindustrial levels and is increasing at approximately 0.2°C per decade. The impacts of global warming are already transforming our environment and trend changes have been detected in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
The IPCC Special Report www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
The European Commission on Climate Change ec.europa.eu/clima/citizens/eu_en
Global warming is not even!
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The average temperature rise in the last 100 years is estimated at approximately 1oC however, the temperature in the artic has risen by an estimated by almost 3oC. This is not just a problem for the polar bears – It is causing a significant impact on our weather.
It is estimated that the artic could be ice-free by the summer of 2040 according to the IPCC. The effects of this will include:
- Higher sea levels – With vast amounts of additional water in our seas
- Faster global warming – As the white ice sheet currently reflects the suns energy
- More severe weather events – The sea surface temperatures influence the weather we experience in Ireland. Warmer seas and higher sea levels will lead to more frequent extreme weather events and with Ireland situated on the edge of the Atlantic, this is not good news for us regardless of where we are in the country!
According to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the volume of Arctic sea ice present in the month of September has declined by 75 percent since 1979 and Arctic winter sea ice maximums in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were at record low levels.
Addressing Climate Change
This affects us all. Each one of us has a responsibility to look at what role we can play in protecting our environment for future generations. We all need to look at not only how we use energy in our homes and daily lives but also where this energy comes from.
Where there are opportunities available for our communities to explore the potential development of renewable energy projects we need to assess these on their merits so that suitable and appropriate projects can be identified and developed which not only provide green energy but which also promote positive climate action through bringing benefits to the people who are living in those local areas.
If your local area has a location suitable for the consideration of a renewable energy project then please find out more about how an appropriate the proposal could be brought forward. Your input can shape the proposals being brought forward and ensure that the project is designed appropriately and delivers benefits for your local area.
If your area does not have any areas that would warrant consideration for a renewable energy proposal, this does not mean that you cannot still play a part in making your community more sustainable. Effective climate action is going to require normal everyday people to act and lead the way in protecting our environment and society for this and future generations.