It is Friday again and time to pause before I catch the weekly train into Dublin to take up position outside Leinster House. This week has been one of ups and downs when it comes to climate change. For me it has felt a bit like an emotional roller coaster. Here’s what I have taken not of this week in the climate world.
The ongoing weird weather. Everyone is talking about it but surprisingly few are joining the dots yet. In Ireland at least, the winter still has not come. We had a very brief burst of normal cold weather last weekend – but that quickly gave way to the strange mild, dull, damp weather that has endured since before Christmas. What is most striking is the lack of temperature change at night – day and night is hovering around 10 degrees C. The birds, the animals and particularly the plants are confused. I saw beautiful cherry blossom in full bloom and turned brown on the branches yesterday. The grass is now around 10 cm in the garden (and was already cut on the 2nd January). For those like me which an acute sensitivity to the big picture, like rapidly reducing Arctic sea ice, this weirdness is freaking me out.
Second thing I noted this week is the horrendous heatwave in Australia – and the attempts by our mainstream media to dress it up as a “very hot summer”. Bats have dropped to earth of heat exhaustion, fruit is cooking on trees, and roads across Australia are melting. The heatwave has involved sustained temperatures of over 40 degrees C across the continent for over a week. It is so hot they are actually running out of colours on the map. Yet the image that the media have chosen to use in their coverage? People at a beautiful beach frolicking in the water or cooling in a water fountain. Sure, what’s wrong with that? We could all be doing with a bit of that – especially given our grey skies right now.
On the positive side, I’ve been struck by two stories this week. The first is the Climate Case which is concluding today in the High Court in Dublin. This case has taken the citizen action on climate change in Ireland to a whole new level. Civil society is now well equipped – both in terms of skills, confidence and sheer numbers (16000 people signed up #InMyName) to pose a major challenge to the government. Some of the arguments put forward by the defence council on behalf of the Irish state are just plain mad. One that struck me is the idea that what campaigners are asking for is overly “onerous” for Irish society. I ask myself: and the consequences of climate change on the next generation??? The word “onerous” would be mild to describe what our children will face unless we take this onerous action upon ourselves. We await the outcome – but regardless, the climate movement here has been strengthened as a result. If the state wins, I can guaranteed those 16000 plus their friends will take to the streets. If it loses, we will still ratchet up our action.
The final story is the children in Brussels – and across the world – finding their voice. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SOUND (you need to turn up the volume). Yesterday 32000 children flooded the streets in Brussels demanding a safe future. That gives me goosebumps. They are joining many thousands more across the world. And this was not their first rally either – before Christmas 12000 protested on Brussels streets. The youth of today are rising up and bringing the “grown-ups” with them. The Irish youth, hopefully, will be next.
On that note. Now – off to Dublin.