tag: Climate change

Jan 2010

The essential disconnect

It’s not part of my brief to go, I’m quite satisfied with what I hear and what I see on video with the standards of the factories. It’s the job of the buyers and the ethical trade team to visit the factories.

That’s how we do it. How we keep it all going. A clothing retailer. A supermarket. A chain of petrol stations. A million other things. That chain of insulation. Our delegation of consequence and responsibility. The essential disconnect.

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Jan 2010


It’s been over for a few weeks now, and the general consensus seems to be that the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit achieved nothing worthwhile. In fact, the view that the summit actively damaged efforts to combat anthropogenic climate change seems more plausible than the idea that it helped in any way.

In an attempt to save face, a few Western governments have claimed limited success for the summit… the UK wheeled out John Prescott to insist that “some progress” had been made, while the Irish environment minister described it as “underwhelming” (both of which fall a long way short of an accurate assessment). Having spent a year preparing for a ten day summit which failed to achieve a single thing of real value, it was obviously rather impolitic to use phrases like “abject failure”, “sheer incompetence” or “couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery”.

Environmental writers are split on who was primarily responsible for torpedoing the summit. Some blame China, others blame the USA. It seems rather obvious to me though, that neither the Chinese nor the US governments actually wanted an agreement that would do anything to limit their economic activity. So they were both happy for the summit to fail by being seen to disagree.

See, it’s really quite simple. Any nation or government that genuinely feels combating Climate Change by limiting emissions is more important than economic growth (hint: it is) would simply announce unilateral cuts and wait for the rest of the world to catch up. They go down in history as The Good Guys, and they get a head start on the rest of the planet when it comes to coping with peak oil. That no major industrial nation is doing this (hint: they’re not, carbon trading and PR campaigns notwithstanding) tells us that either (a) our governments don’t consider Climate Change to be as big a threat as a planned reduction in economic activity, which means they are idiots; or (b) they do consider it a bigger threat but don’t think they can sell it to their population, which means they are crap at their job.

Either way, why the hell do we put up with them?

The sheer magnitude of Copenhagen’s failure was brought home to me earlier this week by a headline over at the BBC. Copenhagen climate deal ‘satisfies’ Saudi Arabia, it read. That the world’s largest producer of crude oil is happy with the outcome of the summit pretty much tells you everything you need to know about it. Ultimately our failure to deal with Climate Change — which is what Copenhagen will long represent — is as perfect an example of our inability to live sustainably as can be imagined.

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Dec 2009

An appeal to Copenhagen

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. They do so because humanity faces a profound emergency. I’ve reproduced the editorial in full here.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts are speaking: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting, and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble.

Climate change, caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor, or east and west. Climate change affects everyone. It must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to two degrees, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next five to 10 years. A bigger rise of three to four degrees – the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction – would parch continents, turn farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea.

* * *

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the election of President Obama and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of US domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until Congress has done so.

But Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: “We can go into extra time but we can’t afford a replay.” At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich and developing worlds on how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided.

Rich nations point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants like China take more radical steps. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now lead – every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within ten years to very substantially less than 1990 levels.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge their own meaningful, quantifiable action. Though short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world’s biggest polluters, the US and China, were important steps in the right direction.

* * *

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and credible assessments of “exported emissions” so that the burden can be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than “old Europe”, must not suffer more than richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance – and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing. Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognised that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”.

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done, then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

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Nov 2009

Climate Change disinformation

Over in the UK someone has hacked into the computer system at the University of East Anglia. Specifically the server used by the Climate Research Unit. Information was stolen and then publicly posted on the internet. It’s resulted in a field day for Climate Change Deniers. Indeed a piece in the Daily Telegraph proclaimed the stolen data as “the final nail in the coffin” of man-made Climate Change.

Sadly, it isn’t. Though few things would make me happier if it was. Frankly I can think of no better news than the revelation that anthropogenic Climate Change is some kind of scam cooked up by 95% of the world’s climate and meteorological scientists; that global industrial activity isn’t doing nearly as much harm to our ecological systems as previously feared. But the leaked information suggests no such thing.

What the stolen information does appear to reveal, however, is the fairly shoddy attitudes of a few climate scientists working at the University of East Anglia. They appear to have made some pretty callous comments about the death of a prominent Climate Change Denier. Perhaps more worryingly, though, the released information includes emails that seem to suggest that the scientists had made attempts to suppress data that might have contradicted their own results and put pressure on scientific journals to refrain from publishing papers by those who disagreed with them.

This is all very unfortunate and I’d like to think that these revelations will prompt swift apologies and perhaps even resignations if it can be proven that someone genuinely did falsify data or actively engage in censorship (as opposed to merely suggesting it in a frustrated email). Climate Change is too damn important an issue to become dragged down into the mud by the kind of fools who would risk adding to the scepticism and doubt by engaging in dirty tactics and scientific censorship.

That said, I do think this should all be placed into perspective. Any dirty tactics and scientific censorship that may have been carried out at the University of East Anglia are reprehensible, but they are as nothing when compared with the tactics of the fossil fuel lobby and those they have in their deep pockets. The scientists at the centre of this latest brouhaha are simply guilty of trying to fight fire with fire. It’s unacceptable and they should, as I said, do the decent thing and apologise, maybe even resign. But for Climate Change Deniers to cry “foul” is a bit bloody rich.

The evidence for man made Climate Change is entirely convincing, and there’s nothing in this latest controversy that changes that. Despite this — and for years before the University computer was breached — a vast campaign to suppress and discredit was indeed underway. But by and large it wasn’t being undertaken by climate scientists. Rather, they were the target.

I’m dismayed and more than a little outraged by the scientists who sought to emulate this malign campaign of disinformation and censorship. But I’m also rather contemptuous of those deniers who claim dismay and outrage at today’s disinformation, while gleefully championing yesterday’s and tomorrow’s.

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Oct 2009

The air we breathe

Ladies and gentlemen, the future.


The Airpod, air-powered car.

That air stuff… it’s great when you think about it. A ubiquitous, but entirely unobtrusive mixture of gases that’s wrapped around our planet several miles deep and provides fuel for many of the processes that occur within our body. It isn’t so much “easily accessible” as it is “impossible not to access” under normal circumstances.

Now before anyone looks at that strange little car and starts thinking either (a) that compressed air is the solution to our energy crisis, or (b) that I’m suggesting compressed air is the solution to our energy crisis, let me please request you stop thinking it. Because it’s not. And I’m not.

What I am suggesting, however, is that compressed air is a far better energy-carrier than batteries (or hydrogen fuel cells).

Let me qualify that statement.

Firstly, I’m not really talking about cars here. I still view the personal car as unsustainable, though there’s no reason compressed-air buses couldn’t be part of a future public transport system.

And secondly, I’m not speaking specifically about the energy-efficiency of compressed air Vs batteries.

What I am suggesting is that a wind-turbine powering your home / apartment building / housing estate (scale up as required) could be connected to an air-compressor during off-peak hours. Then when it’s calm and the turbine isn’t moving (or the sun isn’t shining, if solar panels are your primary generator) the compressed air can be used to produce electricity. It beats almost every other energy system I can think of hands down in the sustainability stakes. As well as the sheer elegance of the idea.

See the trouble with batteries is that they’re pretty short-lived, all things considered. They need to be replaced every few years and disposing of the old ones often involves dealing with nasty chemicals. With a compressed air system, on the other hand, you need a machine-shop and a bit of know-how (or the phone-number of someone with a machine-shop and a bit of know-how… hint: see the Yellow Pages under ‘Mechanic’) and you’ve got something that’ll last indefinitely. I’ve seen compressors in factories that have been lovingly maintained for thirty years and which, given continued loving maintenance, should last at least thirty more. I watched the mechanic in an Egyptian bottling plant manufacture spare parts for his compressor from a pile of off-cuts in the yard. No it wasn’t the prettiest piece of equipment I’d ever seen, with at least half of it having been replaced with local scrap over the years, but it still functioned to a high level of efficiency.

Compressed air is not without its dangers. But as an energy carrier it sure beats hydrogen in that respect. And compressor technology is old and proven. Over the decades we’ve made it pretty damn reliable. I have a hunch that “reliable” is exactly what we need right now.

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May 2009

Awww… it's a little nuke

Over at U-Know! someone posted a link to an article in The Guardian from last November (Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes). The article discusses a technology under development by Hyperion Power Generation in Los Alamos, New Mexico. It’s essentially a small nuclear reactor capable of powering tens of thousands of homes and costing a relatively modest $25m.

A quick search on google news reveals an article on Reuters as recently as this week (Hyperion Has a $100M Valuation for Mini Nuclear Power) which includes the paragraph:

Although nuclear power produces radioactive waste, it doesn’t release greenhouse gases and it has vocal supporters in the new administration, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu. So it’s not so far-fetched for investors to see the potential of Hyperion’s nuclear option.

Now those two articles and a reading of Hyperion’s website (mostly marketing bumpf investor relations) are the extent of my knowledge on this subject, so I don’t know enough about the specifics of their solution to offer a considered critique of the actual technology. However there are some generic criticisms of this approach to energy production that I feel are valid and worth highlighting. All the same, I’m flagging this post in advance as a “first thoughts / first impressions” thing. OK?

And on that basis… yikes!

Small enough to be transported on a ship, truck or train, Hyperion power modules are about the size of a “hot tub” — approximately 1.5 meters wide. Out of sight and safe from nefarious threats, Hyperion power modules are buried far underground and guarded by a security detail. Like a power battery, Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and are delivered factory sealed. They are never opened on site. Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purposes. Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based, it is impossible for the module to go supercritical, “melt down” or create any type of emergency situation. If opened, the very small amount of fuel that is enclosed would immediately cool. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is a good candidate for fuel recycling.

Perfect for moderately-sized projects, Hyperion produces only 25 MWe — enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent. Ganged or teamed together, the modules can produce even more consistent energy for larger projects.

The Hyperion team is committed to helping make the clean and safe benefits of nuclear power — benefits that could assist in solving the worst of our planet’s problems — available in even the most remote locations. We hope you will enjoy learning about Hyperion through our web site!

“Nefarious threats”? They make it sound like they’re securing the place against attack from Dr. Evil. Or that we live in a world where the worst thing that could happen is Terry-Thomas might show up and attempt to do something dastardly. Poor copywriting aside, I believe that passage from their website, coupled with some of the claims being made in the media, should raise some serious concerns.

Thousands of little nuclear reactors encased in concrete, scattered all over the world, maintained and secured by the lowest-cost local contractors? There’s a whole bunch of things wrong with that.

First of all, this commits us to a heavily industrialised future which I’m not sure is a sensible decision (i.e. one in which uranium mining and processing is done on a scale that rivals the modern oil industry — how this squares with the claim in the Reuters piece that “nuclear power […] doesn’t release greenhouse gases” is anybody’s guess). I’m not suggesting we abandon technology or automation or electrical energy; merely that we need to scale our usage of these things back dramatically if we wish to use them sustainably. Be far smarter and more selective in the technologies we adopt or continue to use.

Secondly, the waste management issues just give me the head-staggers. It’s one thing having a few secure, essentially semi-militarised, locations where the waste is produced and stored. Even that’s problematic in my view. But to handle a massively distributed network (“available in even the most remote locations”) with a reasonable guarantee that none of the stuff ever ends up in the local reservoirs? Significantly increasing the amount of highly toxic waste we produce when there are alternatives? Future history books will view such decisions as criminally negligent… beyond reprehensible and into pure evil. Always assuming there’s going to be history books chronicling our times and crimes.

Thirdly, I’m always worried when the person selling the technology creates a huge straw man regarding security. What’s he trying to distract us from?

‘You could never have a Chernobyl-type event – there are no moving parts,’ said Deal. ‘You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it’s too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.’Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes, The Guardian

I’m not too worried about someone weaponising this stuff. North Korea’s already done that, and depending upon how the next few years go in Pakistan, some seriously hardline Islamists may get their hands on that technology too. Also, I’m not so sure that we can rely upon Israel to pursue a rational, evidence-based foreign policy and even the countries we view as being a relatively safe pair of hands are more than capable of rationalising a pre-emptive strike one of these days. So the “scary people with nukes” cat is very much out of the bag.

What worries me isn’t a nation state getting hold of this stuff and weaponising it, but a less organised bunch of psychos getting hold of it and poisoning wells and water-tables for several generations. See, I’m not sure exactly what part of “stealing a barbecue with your bare hands” would have prevented the September 11th hijackers doing so if it was part of their mission. For me the security risk of these things is a dedicated group of nutters — some of whom, perhaps, work for a local concrete supply company? — who don’t care about getting their hands burnt, metaphorically speaking. Unfortunately it seems there are plenty of people who’d be willing to expose themselves to a lethal dose of radiation as they steal a bunch of uranium “softballs” from one of the more remote clusters of these things.

Even if powdering the stuff and dumping it into a handful of municipal reservoirs was demonstrated to only raise the risk of childhood leukemia by 0.5% in those areas, how soon before you’ve got a bunch of ghost-towns? Ghost-cities? Millions of families won’t make a level-headed and rational assessment of the risks when the headlines scream “Radioactive Reservoir! Al Qaeda dumps uranium in Dallas water supply!”

The whole thing is fraught with the kind of “What Ifs” that just don’t enter the equation when you recommend a combination of renewable energy and a reduction in consumption.

But I’d be interested in having those “What Ifs” answered and I’ll look out for more information on this over the coming months should it start to gain credibility. Maybe this is the magic space dust we’ve been waiting for.

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May 2009

Where's Scully when you need her?

Via email from Gyrus

One of the newest energy lobbyists claims he has the answer to climate change: spaceships.

The government has in its possession “extraterrestrial vehicles,” lobbyist Stephen Bassett said. As in flying saucers.

Imagine the power source, he said, behind a 30-foot wide saucer that weighs the same as a tractor-trailer yet hurtles through galaxies at 20,000 miles per hour.

“What is the energy system operating that craft?” Bassett said. “They’re not burning kerosene.”

He added, “It eliminates oil. It eliminates coal. If it’s as good as we think it is, it transforms everything.”

Bassett certainly makes more sense than David Bellamy, for instance. So let’s not discount him entirely. Sadly though, he’s being overly-optimistic if he thinks E.T. will help prevent Climate Change. After all, the space-aliens have been manipulating human culture for thousands of years now precisely in order to create a civilisation that would pump vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Once it’s enough like their home planet, they’ll start Phase 2. And yes, that is a cookbook.

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Nov 2008

A question

Would it be possible for a person, or group of people, to take legal action against their government for failure to protect them — and future generations — against a threat they acknowledge in their own publications is a serious one, but about which they are taking no practical action?

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Nov 2008


Eon is a German-based (edited from “UK-based”… thanks to John B in the comments) energy company that powers a large slice of the British electricity grid. They employ a variety of technologies to achieve this but appear to have settled upon coal as the fuel of the future (ironic, really, as the continued widespread use of coal is a great way to help destroy the future). A massive investment is about to be made in building the first new coal-fired power station in Britain for decades, at Kingsnorth in Kent. This must be strenuously opposed.

Eon naturally spend quite a bit of money on public relations and have employed people to convince us (though mostly to convince the politicians) that so long as you preface the word “coal” with the word “clean” it is rendered benign. It makes me wonder whether bioterrorists could escape prosecution by insisting in court that they’d filled the envelopes with “Clean Anthrax”.

– Do you deny sending packages filled with anthrax to politicians?
– No your honour, we do not deny this, however we’d like to point out that we used Clean Anthrax.
– But did the politicians not die?
– They did, your honour, but you must understand that our anthrax was “Antidote Ready”.
– Antidote Ready? Please explain this…
– Well, we sent the anthrax secure in the knowledge that at some unspecified future date we would be able to develop an antidote…

Not that I wish to claim that Eon are bioterrorists. Even I admit that describing CO2 emissions as a biological agent would be stretching things a little.

“Eco-terrorists” would be a better phrase I think. Though that appears to be already in use, to describe those who seek to oppose the destruction of the environment by maniacs like Eon.

For more about Eon and about why each mention of Eon is linked to NoNewCoal.org.uk, check out this post over on Merrick’s blog.

Update: It might also be worth pointing out that Eon is sometimes written E.On or occasionally E-On. Just so you know.

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Sep 2008

The bloody greens

Over at Bristling Badger, Merrick has been publishing his correspondence with the UK Green Party on the question of whether hydrogen should be pursued as the vehicle fuel of the future (hint: it shouldn’t be).

Needless to say, he’s not made a great deal of headway as yet.

The problem is as simple as it is age-old… namely that the first job of any politician is to take and maintain a position of power. All else is secondary (and that goes for Greens, Reds, Blues and every other colour). No one will get elected if they admit, for example, that part of the only guaranteed solution to our current problems is the abandonment of the private car. Even if it is true. So instead they promise pipe dreams.

In a way this is made even worse when the politician in question claims to have lofty ideals… the nonsense and obfuscation they come out with in order to avoid admitting that their ideals are secondary to their search for power can be stomach-churning to watch.

What is true is that the idea of power corrupts. Power corrupts most rapidly those who believe in it, and it is they who will want it most. Obviously, our democratic system tends to give power to those who hunger for it and gives every opportunity to those who don’t want power to avoid getting it. Not a very satisfactory arrangement if power corrupts those who believe in it and want it.

Perhaps there is no such thing as unilateral power. After all, the man ‘in power’ depends on receiving information all the time from outside. He responds to that information just as much as he ’causes’ things to happen… it is an interaction, and not a lineal situation. But the myth of power is, of course, a very powerful myth, and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it. It is a myth, which, if everybody believes in it, becomes to that extent self-validating. But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to various sorts of disaster.

– Gregory Bateson | Steps To An Ecology of Mind

Here in Ireland we have the Green Party in coalition. The rate at which they have abandoned every single one of their principles is beyond satire and has guaranteed them at least one less vote at the next election. The final nail in their coffin, however, was hammered-in over the weekend when John Gormley, party leader and Minister for the Environment, appeared on the main evening news.

Before I report what he said, let me take you back a year to the Green decision to join the coalition government. By voting for the Greens, which — much to my regret — I did, I believed that I was voting for the manifesto they campaigned on. I realise this was naive of me, but I didn’t really expect them to help prop up the incumbent Fianna Fáil government (whose economic irresponsibility has resulted in a criminal waste of resources). I believed I was helping to propel the Green Manifesto onto the opposition benches where it would be heard but not diluted.

Sure, you’d have to strain to hear it, but it would be there.

Instead the manifesto was abandoned almost wholesale as the Greens rushed into government. In exchange for two ministries and six votes, Fianna Fáil persuaded the Greens to ditch all but one of their commitments. Gormley even justified this decision by claiming that the single-most important issue facing Ireland — facing the world — is Climate Change. Therefore, the Greens would support Fianna Fáil in return for a Programme of Government that included a cast-iron commitment to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions by a minimum of 3% per year during the lifetime of the government.

That was the deal that was made. I disagreed with it at the time for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because anyone with half a brain (i.e. not someone addled by the desire for power) could tell that the Greens were being bought off with a cheque guaranteed to bounce.

And now it has done. At the end of last week, a report was leaked that demonstrated clearly that not only was this commitment not going to be met, but that Irish carbon emissions had previously been significantly understated and furthermore were actually still rising. So a year after taking power, on their one clear commitment; that single thing we were asked to judge their performance on; the Greens have unequivocably failed.

Gormley, though, appeared on the news to answer this point. His response was predictable and pathetic in almost equal measure. He passed the buck.

I’m not the minister for finance, and I’m not the minister for transport, nor am I the minister for agriculture… so I’m very much dependent on other ministers coming forward.

Amazing stuff. He sold out his manifesto for a seat in government which would enable him to push through emission cuts. It’s only now he’s woken up to the fact that he doesn’t have the power to do a sodding thing about it. I’ve seen him speak; he doesn’t strike me as a stupid man; so how could he have failed to see that one coming? Damn near everyone else did.

The Taoiseach is well-aware of my concerns, as are other ministers, says John. Well that makes it all OK then. He is concerned and everyone is aware of it. All that’s needed now is to develop the technology to convert Mr. Gormley’s concern into clean, zero-emission energy.

Even worse; Mr. Gormley admitted in April this year (in a speech entitled… wait for it… “Putting Vision Into Action”) that he believed we have a “10-year window” to address Climate Change. On the news last weekend he stated that not only would it “be premature” to speculate on the solutions to our emissions growth, but that none of the emission-reduction measures that have so far been put in place in the transport sector would have any significant effect before 2020.

While only a couple of months ago, the Deputy Leader of the Greens, Mary White, was attacking the opposition for their temerity to criticise the environmental record of the government. “Both [opposition] parties”, she insisted, “seem to have forgotten the major steps that the Government has made in tackling the causes of climate change.”

It’s difficult to forget something that never actually happened, Mary.

At the time the Greens entered government I wrote that what concerned me most was not that they’d be ineffective — which was self-evident. My biggest concern would be that they’d deal a significant blow to the environmental movement in Ireland. By allowing people the opportunity of a “fire-and-forget” option, they would severely curtail environmental activism. Those who were concerned about Climate Change could cast their vote and unburden themselves of the responsibility to take further action.

So well done to the Irish Green Party. You have joined a government that is implementing policies guaranteed to raise total emissions. But at least everyone knows how concerned you are.

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