New Book on Ireland and Climate Change

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Climate change will transform Ireland sooner than we think according to a new book by NUI Galway's Dr Kieran Hickey. Aimed at the everyday reader, Five Minutes to Midnight? Ireland and Climate Change sets out the causes of climate change and its implications for Ireland. According to the author "this book is meant to be wake-up call for the average Irish person and for our politicians". The book describes some disturbing scenarios for Ireland by the end of this century and beyond, depending on how we respond to climate change. Based on the careful projection of current trends, and up-to-date climatological research, Ireland's future might well contain scorching summers, parched lawns, water rationing, escalating rates of skin cancer, mosquitoes and great white sharks off in our seas. Winters will be muggy and wet, with flooded streets and sodden lawns due to some 15% more rainfall. Ireland will see fewer, but bigger and more deadly storms. With a changing climate, many native plants and animals will be lost. Salmon will disappear from our rivers, cod from our seas and potatoes from our fields. Exotic new crops and species will replace them. Rising sea-levels will lead to beleaguered and uninsurable seaside villages. City centres, perhaps even parts of Dublin, may have to be abandoned. Beaches, farms and golf links will be swept away as large swathes of the coastline taken over by rising seas. According to Dr Hickey: "The reference to five minutes to midnight means that its crunch time for climate change in Ireland. By 2080, within our children's lifetimes, Ireland will be vastly changed. Our forty shades of green will have given way to forty shades of yellow. Combating climate change is a global issue, but we cannot throw our hands in the air and wait for the US or China to take steps to save the day. Like charity, combating climate change begins at home". Dr Hickey added: "The first step is for each and every citizen to make it their responsibility to understand what is happening to the climate and to our country. We must comprehend the legacy we are leaving for our children and grandchildren and give ourselves a harsh wake-up call. As citizens, we can then shape political will and manage our country's future. We can influence events. But if we are to do so we must act decisively, and act now". The book has praise for some of the ways in which Irish industry has adapted to the carbon economy, which is likely to be worth 500 billion dollars annually by 2050, and will create tens of thousands of new Irish jobs. The book also examines 'doomsday scenarios' which include runaway global warming, runaway sea-level rise, and the 'turning off' of the Gulf Stream. Dr Kieran Hickey is a lecturer in Geography at NUI Galway. His book Five Minutes to Midnight? Ireland and Climate Change is available in most book shops and is published by White Row Press, Belfast. For further information, visit www.whiterowpress.com
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