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Climate Change Series

Looking at climate change through the lens of water

Féidhlim Harty, director of an environmental consultancy company tells Bridget Ginnity, how being a bad windsurfer led him to specialising in reed bed system design and other eco-friendly sewage options. For as long as I can remember, my family was interested in environmental things of various sorts, whether it was beach clean-ups, chemical or sewage pollution in Cork Harbour area. My grandmother was Myrtle Allan of Ballymaloe House. When she was president of Euro-Toques, the global society of chefs, she had us children filling envelopes and addressing them to all corners of the globe. We watched the early European legislation on food being developed and it was a real education that you can bring your opinions directly to the table and decisions will be made that reflects that input. I set up my business in constructed wetlands as an activism measure in the ’90s. I wanted to clean up Cork Harbour using reed bed systems, mainly because I was a …

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Falls Hotel’s power play led to other green savings

Sharon Malone, Marketing and Green Manager of the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon, tells Bridget Ginnity how her work has inspired her personally. It is one of only two carbon neutral hotels in Clare, the other being Hotel Doolin My interest in the environment started when I was about 13, when my dad bought me a book called “50 Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth” – I’d say he rued the day. I drove the family demented with all the ideas I got from it, like when I had them all turn off all the taps to check if we had a leaky house. There was a chapter on vegetarianism and I gave up eating meat. My parents humored me completely though. I am the oldest of six and concern for the environment filtered down – my brother even stopped throwing tyres on Halloween bonfires! I went on to study marketing and was delighted to get the opportunity to …

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Working together for a better world

Bridget Ginnity speaks with Cormac McCarthy an ecologist with Waterways Ireland who is responsible for its Climate Action Plan. He is also chair of Ennis Tidy Towns which has many biodiversity and sustainability projects BIODIVERSITY is one of the ways that we can address both the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis. For example, pollinator management with reduced grass cutting is a climate action in itself. In Ennis we’ve increased the amount of wildflowers on the roundabouts, just by changing our mowing regime. We even have orchids. Longer grass sequesters more carbon, and because you’re using machinery less often, you have less diesel emissions. Planting loads of trees isn’t the only nature-based way of sequestering carbon. It really needs to be properly thought through, because in taking what is well intentioned action, you may actually be doing more harm than good. For example, if you push for afforestation to sequester carbon you may be losing peatland areas or farmland. We …

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Beautiful bogs have vital role in combating climate change

For the latest in our climate change series, Bridget Ginnity speaks to Catherine Ní Ciardha one of the first bog owners in Ireland to restore a raised bog to its original state to halt biodiversity loss and combat climate change There used to be an old milestone outside my house near Parteen showing it is four miles to Limerick city, yet I live down a country road that is even too narrow for the bin lorries. At the end of the road is 30 acres of bog that I own in Shanakyle Bog. It’s one of the few raised bogs in Clare. I always looked after the bog, and never did anything to damage it, but then I thought, what happens when I pop my clogs, what will happen then? The University of Limerick and the city are coming closer and closer and I wanted to preserve it as a natural space for wildlife and future generations. The lungs of …

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Too late for small changes to address climate crisis

In the latest of our climate change series, Tom Golden tells Bridget Ginnity that as a country we can look to our responses to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine for examples of a rapid and meaningful response to a crisis.   As well as working as an engineer with Analog Devices, Mohawk and ATS, I’ve been a youth worker, a builder and stay-at-home father. At one time I used to sell a few vegetables in Bunratty that I grew on a quarter acre, usually bringing one of the kids with me on the bike and trailer. I met and fell in love with a great woman, Ann. The priest at the wedding, our friend Seán Sexton, said ‘we took serious only the serious things’. One of those serious things is the climate crisis. It is core to how I live my life. Crisis, what crisis? I’ve a fridge magnet that says “No one will blame us for climate …

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Meitheal tradition can guide us in climate change crisis

In the third instalment of our climate change series Noirin Lynch, Traditional Singer and Director of FCJ Spirituality House, Spanish Point tells Bridget Ginnity that community and co-operation are key to our success I HAD what I call a “head moment” when I first read Laudato Si in 2015. That’s the papal letter by Pope Francis on climate change. I realised then that the climate crisis is serious but there’s a difference between the head moment and the heart moment. Even though Laudato Si was convincing, I wasn’t really emotionally engaged. Shortly afterwards I moved to Dublin to run a spirituality centre, and unexpectedly found myself in the heart of nature. The place was incredibly beautiful, with amazing 200-year-old trees and wonderful planting of flowers and shrubs by a sister now in her nineties. We had hedgehogs, squirrels, foxes, all kinds of birds. When I became aware of the seasons of nature, it transformed me. Something in me moved from …

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Small changes can have big cumulative effects on environment

In the second instalment of her series on climate change actions, Keir McNamara, acupuncturist, sports injury specialist and former agricultural scientist tells Bridget Ginnity that taking a small bit of personal responsibility can have a big effect cumulatively in the quest for sustainable living THE past president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, made an impression on me. He donated 90% of his salary to charity, lived on a bit of a farm outside the city instead of the presidential mansion, drove an old Volkswagen Beetle and said “I can live well with what I have.” Travelling over the years, I saw how people in third world countries make do with modest amounts, which showed me that there is no need to have as much as we do. I also witnessed at first-hand how human intervention has caused environmental disasters. I spent time in Australia in the mid-nineties and saw how removing natural vegetation for agricultural land indirectly caused high levels of …

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‘Nature will flourish when we cease harmful interventions’

In her new series on the environment, Bridget Ginnity speaks to ordinary Clare people who have been moved to make changes in their life in response to the climate change crisis that looms ever larger. First up is Colette Reddington, former science teacher in Coláiste Muire Ennis and co-founder of Clare Haven and Haven Horizons BACK in the ‘90s, there was suddenly a huge amount of algal blooms in the Clare lakes – it smelled like boiled cabbage water. I remember a dog died drinking the water from Lough Derg. Some time later, Cullaun Lake had a fish kill of 20,000 fish. Looking back, that was the first time that I really started to think about how we unintentionally damage our environment. I was impressed that local landowners, Teagasc and angling groups got together and within two years had resolved the problem. It encouraged me to see that while we do damage, we can also reverse it by changing our …

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