There’s been a lot of talk about climate change recently, this time spawned by the COP24 summit. However, despite this resurgence, we’ve heard nothing new. Reduce this, disaster that, “think of the coral reefs!” etc etc.
According to this recent conference though, ‘civilizational collapse’ is ‘on the horizon.’ I mean, they’re not wrong with the way things are going, but the weather is the least of our problems on that front.
In all seriousness though, this kind of doomsday heraldry has occurred again and again so many times that it has lost all credibility. If I had a Euro for every time I heard about New York becoming the new Atlantis because of the melting Ice Caps, I would be so wealthy I could be the Right-wing George Soros.
However, that’s not to say climate change isn’t real. It most certainly is. However, the idea that it will kill us all is patently absurd. Should effort be put into stopping it? Of course – though the UN should be looking for more innovation and less reduction of production. More importantly, should Ireland put effort into stopping climate change? No.
When it comes to the climate change question Ireland is irrelevant. Our contribution to the problem is so small that no matter what we do, it will make no difference.
I often see the media and government in this country try to cover this fact up by waving around our emissions per capita numbers. This number is still quite modest at around 8.5 tons per person which, to put in context, is lower than Germany and Japan – and well below the likes of the US and Canada.
But this number is totally irrelevant. The world doesn’t care about percentages and ratios. All that matters when it comes to the effect of emissions on the world is the net total amount we’re putting into the atmosphere.
So, what’s Ireland’s total contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions? Well, that was a hard enough number to find. So hard in fact, I had to pull the raw data and figure out the percentage contribution myself, a rather encouraging fact considering the best data is always that which the establishment doesn’t want you to see.
So, in 2015, it turns out Ireland produced 44 MtCO2 worth of emissions. Making our grand total percentage contribution to world emissions… 0.1%
That’s not 1% of total emissions, that’s 0.1%. To put that in context, international aviation accounted for over 1% of the worlds emissions that year, and international shipping nearly 2%.
What’s more, this recent target created in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is reliant on reducing world emissions by 45%. And that’s just by 2030, with a greater reduction needed after that point. Ireland could disappear tomorrow and not even dent this target. In fact, if we instead decided to sink world shipping instead, we’d do 20 times more for our climate than sinking our entire island.
China and the developing world contribute a vastly higher percentage to CO2 emissions than anyone in the Western world bar the United States. As the years go on and more of the developing world industrialises, their share of emissions will only increase. Western countries are comparatively clean, with our industries now advanced and many of our emissions filtered.
There is only one sane response to this: Ireland is wasting its time trying to influence global climate change. We should stop wasting taxpayers money trying to do so. Instead, what we as a nation should be focusing on are the effects climate change are going to have on this small island of ours, both good and bad.
Firstly, our winters are going to have more extreme cold spots, but probably get warmer over all, while our summers are going to get much hotter.
This means we would do well to invest heavily in our water infrastructure. That means both installing better drains and flood relief systems to deal with stormwater, as well as in the piping system across the country so that droughts don’t hit us nearly as hard.
Changes will also need to be made to agriculture. A little mentioned fact regarding climate change and this topic is that Northern Europe will probably end up net benefiting from climate change in this area, as the rising temperature will lead to greater crop yields.
As a nation with a huge agricultural sector anyway, we need to really capitalize on this. That means figuring out if traditional planting/harvesting times need to change, and implementing those changes if they do.
It also means implementing new crops that will benefit from the warmer climate and making sure that areas that are most likely to be hit with droughts have sufficient irrigation systems installed. We could really learn from Israel on this last point, which has developed a low consumption irrigation system which they’ve used to transform their land.
Great attention also needs to payed to the gulf stream. From what I can see, we have no real knowledge in regards to how the stream will react to rising temperatures. This also goes for various other weather systems that drastically raise and lower Irish temperatures each year. A lot of money needs to be spent on trying to model these systems, and on potential solutions to problems that may arise from changes in them.
All of the above suggestions will cost a huge amount of money for the taxpayer. This money however, does not need to come from nowhere, but from the ridiculous government programs that simply aren’t going to help us in the long run. The subsidies for electric cars comes to mind, along with various other green energy grants that serve only to waste capital.
The more astute reader will notice that I’ve left something out here. All these suggestions are great and all, but sadly, even if our government wanted to adopt them, it would not be able to.
You see, our participation in the various international climate change agreements is not up to us. It’s actually up to our lords and masters in the EU. Just another good reason to wrestle sovereignty back from that imperialist organization.
Ireland can do well out of climate change. If we prepare quickly and correctly, it could end up being of net benefit to us.