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Environment

Make A Difference: Get down to Electric Avenue

In Make A Difference, given cars will remain in our lives for some time yet, Bridget Ginnity explores the options ELECTRIC cars are hailed as the new kid on the block but in fact they aren’t that new. Back when the environmental challenge was getting rid of horse dung from the streets, the main contenders to replace horse-drawn carriages were electric and internal combustion (petrol) cars. Henry Ford of Model T car fame and the inventor Nikola Tesla put a lot of effort into developing electric cars with a longer range but to no avail and the internal combustion car took over. It wasn’t until Elon Musk took over the mantle that batteries really improved. His Tesla range includes the Model 3, named in honour of the Model T. Musk shared his battery technology with the major car manufacturers to get them moving and all the major automotive companies now offer electric cars. As part of the climate action plan, …

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Make A Difference: Make your shopping greener

To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Bridget Ginnity highlights some changes we can make as individuals that will help reduce global carbon emissions by thinking before we buy. Have a look around you, perhaps at the paper or device you are reading this on. Consider the human skill and ingenuity that goes into making the things you see. Trees planted, minerals mined, inks blended, products assembled, shipped and sold. So many stages, so many people involved, it’s truly impressive. Just about every stage of manufacture and sale of things we use involve fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. This gives rise to the extreme fires, floods, storms and heatwaves that are encircling our world. Making and shipping products, including food, causes over 40% of the global carbon emissions. It doesn’t take a research project to figure out that buying fewer goods will reduce carbon emissions. But realistically, we need to buy essentials and want to buy …

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Make A Difference: Keep the heat in and cold out

Our environmental column with Bridget Ginnity explores ways you can heat your home more sustainably THE nights are drawing in, and it won’t be long before we are switching on the heating and sitting by a blazing fire. As Ireland is a temperate climate, you’d imagine that we would have lower carbon emissions from heating than most of Europe. In fact, it’s about 60% above the EU average. It’s because we use more energy than average and use mainly fossil fuels – oil, gas, coal and turf. Any step we can take to eliminate or reduce the use of fossil fuels in home heating is a step in the right direction to reduce the damage we are doing to the earth. And it gives a warmer home and lower bills so it’s win-win-win, warmer-cheaper-greener. If your house was built prior to 2010, it probably has a Building Energy Rating (BER) of C or worse. Definitely a “could do better” grade. …

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Make A Difference: Four Clare people and their activism stories

We speak to four Clare people about their environmental activism Mélina Sharp Futureproof Clare and Extinction Rebellion I became environmentally active after attending an Extinction Rebellion (XR) information session in Kilrush about three years ago. It was a wake-up call, I felt shock and horror at the threat to humanity from climate breakdown. I feel that everything is connected and has an impact on communities and ecosystems but my main focus now is on stopping fracking. So-called “natural” gas was hailed as a clean transition fuel but the emissions from production and shipping are being overlooked. Taking everything into account, importing fracked gas is almost 50% worse than coal from a climate perspective. Methane is about 87 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Levels in the US alone have risen by a third in the last 10 years due to fracking. I work with international groups and hear first-hand stories of the …

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Make A Difference: time for change is now

The EU plans to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030. Bridget Ginnity explains the importance of this plan and highlights simple steps we can all make to play our part in achieving this goal. THE recent launch by the EU of the “Fit for 55” package sounds like an attempt to get us off the couch and touch our toes by the time we’re all 55. Instead, it’s is a plan to reduce EU carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 – and for Ireland that’s a massive 60% reduction on current emissions. The need for reductions has been shown in stark terms this year with the deaths from extreme flooding, heatwaves and forest fires around the globe. This EU plan gives grounds for hope because if governments take control of actions now, we can reap the potential benefits of these actions. Action now avoids unleashing the chaos that is likely to crash down on us if …

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Make A Difference: how green is your garden?

Bridget Ginnity on steps you can take to have a gorgeous garden without the chemical input It’s well into summer now, and gardens and laneways are in full bloom, with butterflies and bees hopping from flower to flower. Most Clare households have gardens and they’re often a source of great pleasure. When walking about, we also have the benefit of other people’s gardens but without the work, which is perhaps even better. A few generations ago, gardens were either the manicured estates of the big houses or cottage gardens. In cottage gardens, every corner of the garden was planted and what thrived survived, what struggled was taken over. As society became better off and urbanised, the trend began for manicured gardens but nature is a bit like a teenager’s bedroom – it descends to chaos very quickly. Chemical pesticides came along and helped us have the order of a big house garden without the manpower. The term “pesticide” covers chemical …

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Make A Difference: Are there plenty more fish in the sea?

Fish stocks in Irish seas are reducing. Bridget Ginnity highlights changes we can all make to reverse the situation CLARE man Ken O’Sullivan brought the wonders of our seas to our living rooms with his film Ireland’s Deep Atlantic (see trailer below), as did David Attenborough with Blue Planet. Despite the plentiful sea life off west Clare, those who have fished for decades don’t need statistics to know there are a lot fewer fish in the sea nowadays. Locals talk about salmon leaping up the rivers when they were young, but these stories are becoming a distant memory and wild salmon for dinner is a novelty. Is there anything we can do to help matters, to have our seas and rivers filled with fish again? There are a lot of reasons for the decline including pollution and climate change, but most fingers point to industrial scale overfishing. Are there plenty more fish the sea? A complex system of quotas governs …

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