The ecological point of no return draws ever closer

The first invasion of a sovereign European state since the second world war got underway on February 24th with the Russian assault into Ukraine. Just four days later, the IPCC Working Group 2 report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” was released. It would be almost impossible to overstate the gravity of the IPCC’s findings, yet it was largely pushed to one side as the eyes of the world turned to the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine. The existential struggles that today face millions as a result of conflict, famine and inequality will, in the decades ahead, be dwarfed by a looming global immiseration as the conditions for life on Earth rapidly deteriorate and destabilise, sweeping away societies, economies and entire ecosystems. This is not – yet – inevitable, but on our current path, it is all but certain. I wrote about this for the Business Post earlier this month.

UNITED NATIONS general secretary António Guterres is rarely stuck for words. This week, however, he seemed genuinely flummoxed.

At the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Guterres spelled out the reasons for his distress plainly: “I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this”. In many ways, the sober document, signed off by 195 countries, reads almost like science fiction.

After all, towards the end of this century, on current projections, between half and three quarters of the world’s population will be facing “life-threatening conditions” involving extreme heat and humidity, among a host of other existential crises, according to the landmark scientific assessment report. It warned that any further delay in strong global action “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”.

In stark human terms, that means between four and six billion people facing catastrophe within decades. In all of human history, even in its darkest moments, nothing has ever come even remotely close to a tragedy on this scale.

“The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal”, Guterres continued. “The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home”.

Around the world, many entire ecosystems are, he warned, “at the point of no return – now”. What he described as unchecked carbon pollution is “forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction – now”.

Casting aside the diplomatic niceties of his role as UN chief, Guterres added: “I know people everywhere are anxious and angry. I am too. Now is the time to turn rage into action”.

In order to have an evens chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, global emissions have to fall by at least 45 per cent by 2030. Instead, Guterres pointed out, they are set to increase by some 14 per cent. “That spells catastrophe”.

In tandem with carbon emissions causing the global climate system to destabilise, a pulse of species extinctions unlike anything that has occurred for tens of millions of years is now sweeping the planet. The report found that climate change has caused “substantial damages and increasing irreversible losses to land ecosystems across every region of the world”.

Between 9-14 per cent of the world’s terrestrial and fresh water species face a “very high risk” of extinction once global temperature reaches 1.5C over pre-industrial. At 2C, this could see up to one in five species disappear, and at 3C, this number rises towards one in three. Beyond the 1.5C tripwire, “human and natural systems will face additional severe risks”. In short, things are going to get much worse, much more quickly.

Today, global temperatures have already risen by an estimated 1.1–1.2C, so the safe operating margin for humans and other species before crossing ecological red lines is already vanishingly thin.

Ireland, a wealthy first world country, has set ambitious targets to slash emissions by 4.8 per cent annually until 2025, after which this would ramp up sharply. Instead, preliminary data from the Environmental Protection Agency indicates there will be no emissions reductions whatever this year. We may be a small country, but we are already playing an oversized role in sealing our children’s fate.

And while Guterres pleaded with wealthy countries to “dismantle their coal fleets”, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, reacting to the fast-deteriorating geo-political situation, confirmed that government plans to decommission the giant coal-fired generator at Moneypoint would be suspended “indefinitely”.

Ironically, the ESB spent hundreds of millions of euros in 2021 importing Russian coal to power Moneypoint. Our ongoing failure to aggressively decarbonise leaves Ireland and many other countries heavily dependent on fossil fuel imports (including imports of chemical fertilizers). These are driving rapid climate destabilisation while also bankrolling authoritarian petro-states from Saudi Arabia to Russia to the United Arab Emirates.

Despite its staggeringly grave implications, the launch earlier this week of the IPCC’s report focusing on impacts and adaptation was almost completely overshadowed, as the world’s media focused on the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Environmental philosopher Timothy Morton coined the phrase ‘hyperobject’ to describe something of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that it defeated traditional means of thinking about it, let alone grasping it. The global climate system, Morton argued, is just such a hyperobject, something that is not just beyond our control, but beyond our ability to understand or perhaps even imagine.

While we can readily empathise with the very real terror facing the people of Ukraine, the increasingly desperate pleas by climate scientists and UN officials to take drastic action to avoid relatively near-term global climate calamity somehow seem sufficiently vague and distant to ignore.

The sound of the climate alarm bell is also being muffled by the constant din of advertising promoting cheap flights, exotic holidays and luxury SUVs. Meanwhile, neoliberal economists in serious media outlets continue to peddle the conceit that the very economic growth and rampant consumerism that is destroying the world can and will continue indefinitely, or that a “greener” version of growth can somehow solve the very problems growth itself causes.

The real takeaway from the IPCC’s latest and gravest report is that human hubris leads inexorably to ecological nemesis. While the report examines the urgent need for adaptation to climate impacts that are already pummelling poorer regions of the world, only aggressive mitigation via shutting down the fossil fuel industry and a radical global shift away from livestock-based agriculture systems offer any realistic hope for a liveable future.

Such a shift could also create the space for what is the key silver lining identified by the report: nature-based solutions. In short, this means a strategic withdrawal of direct human influence from between one third and a half of the world’s surface, including peatlands and sensitive marine areas, allowing ecosystems to begin to recover and re-wild and to so provide the many services upon which life on Earth depends.

If that all sounds utopian or impossible to achieve, just consider for a moment the price of failure.

Posted in Biodiversity, Global Warming, Sustainability | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Big trouble as world’s tiny empires crumble

As recently as 30, even 20 years ago, when at night across Ireland, by the time you reached your destination, the front of your car would be caked in hundreds, even thousands, of dead insects. Commonly known as ‘bug splat’ it was a minor inconvenience usually remedied with soapy water to clean off the windscreen. This is now a thing of the past. After aeons of abundance, the world’s insect populations are in a state of accelerated collapse. I filed this book review for the Business Post recently.

IT IS A MARK of the enduring resilience of the insect kingdom that in the course of its 400 million year reign, it has weathered four of the Earth’s great mass extinction events relatively unscathed. Today, however, the world’s insect populations face an array of existential threats far greater than at any time in the past.

“Our Pyrrhic victory at the very last gasp of Earth’s history means for the first time that a single species is the primary cause of an extinction episode to impact the only known life in the universe”. This is how Guardian journalist Oliver Milman summarises the bleak state of affairs that confront what he calls the “tiny empires that run the world”.

His book, titled ‘The insect crisis’ takes an unflinching look at the alarming decline in insect numbers and range, and what it means for both biodiversity and humanity.

Milman’s research included interviews with many of the world’s leading experts. Despite the diversity of their fields of study, the scientists’ stories are remarkably consistent. “The consequences are clear: if insect declines are not halted, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems will collapse, with profound consequences for human wellbeing”, according to entomologist, Prof Dave Goulson.

When considering human impacts on our planet, much media and scientific scrutiny has fallen on the plight of so-called charismatic megafauna, namely telegenic species such as giant pandas, tigers or elephants. In contrast, the vast insect kingdom remains largely unexplored and unappreciated.

Given their small size, elusiveness and ubiquity, many insect species are notoriously difficult to study, yet a silent apocalypse is nonetheless sweeping through nature’s hitherto most resilient kingdom. While we may mourn the disappearance of the last northern rhino, our relationship with the insect world is more complex. Our cupboards, Milman notes, “are full of an arsenal of chemicals designed to kill insects”, while terms like “creepy crawlies” also convey our reflex distaste, even fear, of insects.

However appalling it might be, wiping out species like rhinos “would not threaten the viability of global food production”, Milman observes. Nor would the crime of driving orangutans to extinction “provoke widespread child malnutrition, trigger the demise of dozens of bird species or cause the landscape to be covered in rotting cadavers”. Humans depend utterly on the very insects we are pushing towards oblivion.

While Milman’s book deals with the many overlapping threats facing the insect world, notably climate change, habitat loss, chemicals and light pollution, his carefully researched and highly readable account also captures a real sense of awe at the wonders of these diminutive empires. Consider that there are an estimated 400,000 species of beetles, vastly more than all species of mammals and birds combined.

The distinctive buzz of bumblebees is made by their wings flapping at an astonishing 24,000 beats per minute. This generates more G forces than a fighter jet. Some dragonflies can fly through winds strong enough to down a helicopter. The American cockroach reaches speeds equivalent to a human running at nearly 300km per hour. Bees have been successfully trained to sniff out explosives. And, while human agriculture is 10,000 years old, leaf-cutter ants have been ‘farming’ fungi in vast underground caverns for 15 million years.

One of the greatest pressures on insect populations globally is the widespread use of powerful pesticides in agriculture. A 2019 US study in soybean crops found little evidence that the neonicotinoid pesticides boosted harvests, and are of “negligible” benefit versus their costs.

While it is tempting to douse farmlands in pesticides, these also kill predatory insects, leaving farmers in a trap of complete dependence on pesticides while faster breeding species, such as aphids continue to attack crops. Agri-chemical conglomerates spend lavishly on lobbying to reduce regulation, while seeking to discredit scientists whose research points to the harm from potent chemicals such as glyphosate.

Scientific evidence did persuade the EU to finally ban neonicotinoid pesticides in 2018. A single teaspoon of one such product, imidacloprid, contains enough poison to kill over a billion honeybees if directly exposed. It is 7,000 times more toxic than the infamous chemical, DDT.

Ultimately, Milman concludes, the survival of insects may require a radical new awareness of their crucial role in maintaining the ecosystems upon which all life on Earth depends.

****************
The Insect Crisis – The Fall of Tiny Empires that Run the World’ by Oliver Milman. Published by Atlantic Books. €21.

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EU decries attacks on Irish environmental defenders

The well-worn narrative emanating primarily from the Irish agri sector and amplified by a cohort of vocal rural TDs is that, despite being the true custodians of the natural environment, they are being constantly “demonised” by over-zealous environmentalists, animal welfare activists, vegans, etc. It’s a line that has been spun so often that many, especially in the Irish media, have taken it uncritically to be broadly true. It must have come as quite a shock when a senior figure from outside the Irish media/political bubble came along recently to point out forcefully that this narrative is in fact a complete inversion of the truth. I reported on the background to this in a recent Business Post article.

WHEN A HIGH-RANKING EU Commission official recently denounced a member state for its “increasingly aggressive stance” against environmental campaigners and its “worrying” undermining of the rule of law on environmental protection, you might be forgiven for thinking he was discussing Poland or authoritarian Hungary.

In fact the recent comments, from Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea were directed squarely at Ireland, a country that trades heavily on its “green” credentials on the international stage, while demonising and marginalising environmental defenders at home.

But if you blinked, you may have entirely missed that this happened at all. The only mainstream news coverage consisted of a solitary inside page report in the Irish Times. Neither RTÉ nor Independent Newspapers, Ireland’s two largest media organisations, deemed it worth covering.

Could this virtual media omerta following his hard-hitting comments have had anything to do with Ciobanu-Dordea having also called out the “aggressive and negative reporting in the mainstream media” on environmental issues?

And as for the political reaction to these extremely serious allegations from the EU Commission: silence. Instead, the Fine Gael website includes headlines like this: “An Taisce a leading threat to future of rural Ireland”, describing Ireland’s oldest environmental charity (which has a legally prescribed role in the planning process) as “driving what seems to be a very personal vendetta against farmers, the rural economy and a company like Glanbia”.

Last year, Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill accused An Taisce of engaging in “a revolting act of treason”. Despite this appalling outburst, Cahill suffered no sanction and remains chair of the Oireachtas agriculture committee.

Overt threats by politicians to cut off funding to NGOs were highlighted by Ciobanu-Dordea as part of a pattern of intimidation that is “highly unusual to witness in an advanced society  like Ireland; such conduct which can be witnessed in more polemic places in the European Union”. It was, he added, “a surprise for us to hear this happened in Ireland”.

And, contrary to the political narrative that environmental objectors have undue influence or an easy ride, the EU Commission official noted evidence of the use of so-called SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suits against environmental defenders in Ireland.

Ciobanu-Dordea also observed that Ireland “continues to be the most expensive member state in which to make an environmental claim before the courts”. This has left many environmental litigants “unable to predict with any certainty the costs exposure” involved. Many have run up significant bills simply trying to clarify issues around costs.

Were this antipathy to environmental defenders happening against a backdrop of Ireland having a good record on nature and biodiversity protection, there could be justification for resisting over-reach by some environmentalists.

However, the opposite is the case. Less than 2.5 per cent of Ireland’s marine waters enjoy any protection whatever, representing “one of the poorest records across the Natura 2000 network in Europe”. On land, the situation is little better. Only 15 per cent of Ireland’s key habitats as identified under the Habitats Directive are in “favourable” condition, with more than half suffering “ongoing decline”.

Many bird species in Ireland are in “serious decline”, Ciobanu-Dordea noted. Our Special Protection Areas mean little in reality, and Ireland needs to “address concerns about some of these breeding species and farmland birds in particular”, he added. The situation regarding our peat bogs is equally parlous.

While these egregious assaults on both our natural environment and its defenders may be news to the EU Commission, they are an all-too-familiar reality for anyone on the ground in Ireland.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has highlighted this repeatedly. Commenting on the break-neck expansion of the dairy sector, EPA director Laura Burke stated bluntly: “the economic growth in recent years is happening at the expense of the environment”. Ireland’s “green” reputation, she added, is “largely not supported by evidence”.

While Ireland’s dairy industry in particular is delivering profitability to many farmers, it is doing so at a fearsome ecological cost, a price that is being offloaded onto the general public and the wider environment.

Farmers face many challenges, including spiralling input costs, stagnating commodity prices and the stranglehold of supermarkets in pushing down prices. Rather than confront these issues squarely, it has been in the shared interest of farm organisations and the agri-industrial sector to collude in creating an environmental bogeyman.

This simplistic “enemy” narrative helps deflect farmers’ anger away from the failures of their representative groups to secure better prices or to back organics as a win-win for nature and for farmers, as well as the refusal of the agrifood and meat conglomerates to pay farmers a fair price.

For instance, a 2020 Teagasc study found that milk prices paid to Irish farmers were the lowest in the EU. Having an eco-scapegoat to vilify is an invaluable mudguard to deflect criticism away from the failings of the farm lobby and its financial dependence on the beef processors in particular.

Part of the emerging narrative is that farmers are being “persecuted” by environmentalists, yet it is worth looking at where the toxic language actually emanates from. One senior agri group official was quoted recentlyas being “sick of listening to hippie dippies and tree huggers telling us we need to do more on the environment”.

This is not anything but unusual. A well-known agricultural journalist recently railed about an “environmental jihad against livestock farming”, while another routinely accuses environmental defenders of being “thugs”, “trolls” and “extremists” who “hate farmers”. Within Ireland’s close-knit farming press, group-think is the norm, and this often spills over into national media coverage.

Words have consequences. Worldwide, over 220 environmental defenders were murdered in 2020. Last August, the High Court heard that threats had been made against Friends of the Irish Environment director (FIE) Tony Lowes by people linked to a paramilitary group arising from an action FIE had taken regarding a flood relief scheme in Roscommon.

Those who nod and wink at the use of incendiary language cannot expect to avoid blame should violent words inevitably beget violent actions.

John Gibbons is an environmental journalist and commentator

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Things are Looking Up as climate crunch hits funny bone

It will come as no surprise to regular ToS readers to learn that the biggest ‘story’ of the 21st century, or perhaps 66 million years of Earth history, is the rapidly unfolding climate emergency and simultaneous global mass extinction event, only the sixth such episode in the last billion years or so.

Yet, of the tens of thousands of films made in the last two decades, probably only two could be said to have addressed global warming head-on. The first, The Day After Tomorrow, a disaster blockbuster, was released in 2004. Two years later, Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, became a surprise hit, though as a non-fiction piece, only reached a very limited audience. We’ve had to wait till the last month of 2021 for a smash hit film taking on our (non) response to the climate crisis via the metaphor of an incoming ‘planet killer’ meteor. ‘Don’t Look Up’ has already been viewed for over 250 million hours on Netflix, which translates to around 115 million households and likely around 250 million individual viewers. It’s still number one worldwide, so these numbers are likely to rise significantly. Continue reading

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Confronting consumerism for a safer future

Among the many challenges we face this decade is how to achieve radical decarbonisation in a way that does not entirely alienate the public. This is no mean challenge. After all, we are all bombarded with constant advertising and promotional messaging telling us “we’re worth it” and encouraging us to forge our self-identity, even our self-worth, via the things we buy and the things we consume.

As the retail economist, Victor Lebow famously wrote in 1955: “Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption”.

Now we see all too clearly that consumption is itself consuming the natural world, yet changing course means first of all, acknowledging and then confronting these forces profiting from nihilistic consumption that goes far beyond meeting our fundamental needs, and in so doing, threatens us all.  In a recent article in the Business Post, I teased this out in a little more detail.

A FAMOUS pair of photos were taken several years apart on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The first was shot in 1900, and shows a street scene crowded with horse-drawn vehicles. Pictured amongst the melee was a solitary automobile. Continue reading

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No national security without food security

We often hear about Ireland’s supposed role in “feeding the world”. The reality is altogether different. Despite the hype, domestic food insecurity is a very real concern in the difficult decades ahead. I explored this issue in detail in a recent Business Post article.

AS THE government this week unveiled carbon budgets for the next decade, the sectoral group scramble for special treatment has gotten underway in earnest.

Livestock agriculture in particular is now coming under sustained scrutiny, given its emissions trajectory is in direct conflict with government policy.

Agriculture minister, Charlie McConalogue found himself in the uncomfortable position this week on RTÉ Prime Time of attempting to defend this situation and to pitch the implausible notion that “efficiencies” or new technologies were going to somehow reduce spiralling methane emissions from Ireland’s oversized livestock herd. Continue reading

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The library of our living planet is burning down

Shortly before the COP26 climate conference began, another global conference, this one on biodiversity, known as COP15, took place in Kunming, China. My piece around the global biodiversity crunch ran in the Business Post in late October.

THE NATURAL WORLD is an unimaginably vast repository of more than a billion years of evolutionary history, a priceless record of life in all its startling complexity emerging against the odds and coming to vivify our once-sterile planet.

“Each higher organism is richer in information than a Caravaggio painting, a Bach fugue, or any other great work,” according to celebrated naturalist Prof EO Wilson.

This living library is, however, burning down, with volume after volume being destroyed, and the conflagration is gathering pace. As the world struggles to come to terms with the climate and covid emergencies, it seems hard to imagine there could be another crisis of equal magnitude and gravity now unfolding, but this is in fact the case. Continue reading

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No time to lose as climate clock approaches midnight

This article was published in the Irish Times in late October, just days before the start of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

AHEAD OF the upcoming UN’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, many countries are now revising their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as originally agreed following the 2015 Paris climate conference.

At that time, the stated aim of international climate policy to keep global temperature increases to ‘well below’ 2 degrees and to ‘pursue efforts’ to keep it to no more than 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial.

Much has changed in the six years since Paris. Perhaps the most significant new factor was the landmark IPCC Special Report published in 2018 and known as SR15. This report made it clear for the first time that devastating and potentially irreversible climate breakdown could be locked in at the lower threshold of 1.5 degrees. Continue reading

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Latest chapter in one man’s journey into climate obscurity

This piece ran in Village magazine in mid-October, tracking the latest moves by Ireland’s climate denier-in-chief in his continuing mission to spread doubt on the science of climate change and the help stymie effective climate action.

OVER FOUR decades ago, famed meteorologist, Jule Charney wrote a report for the US government which sought to answer the key questions of how sensitive the global atmosphere is to increased levels of the heat-trapping gas, CO2.

Charney’s 1979 estimate was that a doubling of global CO2 levels would lead to a temperature increase in the range of 2–4ºC. This summer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest major report calculated that a doubling of CO2 would lead to temperature rises in the range of 2.6–4.1ºC. Continue reading

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The most dangerous man in the world?

It’s almost always a mistake to characterise any one person as ‘evil’. There’s good and bad in everyone, as the song says. Well, almost. You could make an exception for one noxious Antipodean nonagenarian who has, over the span of the last five decades or so, done more than perhaps any other one individual alive to make the world a nastier and ever more dangerous place. No cat-stroking Bond villain caricature has ever captured the true mendacity of this individual, as I explained in this piece for the Business Post in September.

MEDIA TYCOON Rupert Murdoch “isn’t just an Australian problem or even an Anglosphere one. He has become a planetary problem”. That is the scathing view of former Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd.

While such acute criticism might usually be dismissed as politically motivated, in fact Rudd’s analysis is shared by another former PM from the opposite end of Australia’s political spectrum, Malcolm Turnbull. Continue reading

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We are Generation Incineration

This piece ran in the Business Post magazine in late August, as more and more media outlets rallied to engage with the climate emergency and its vast implications for all life on Earth, humans included.

AT EXACTLY 1.18am, on June 24th last, the pool deck at a beachfront condominium in Surfside, Florida, collapsed. Seven minutes later, the entire 12-story building crashed down, instantly killing around 100 residents.

Three years ago, a simple yet crucial design error was discovered in the 40-year-old building. This had led to rainwater pooling and gradually eroding the supporting concrete slabs.

The 2018 estimate for repairs was $9 million, but this rose to $12 million two years later. Owners faced bills of $100,000 per apartment to fund the repairs and many simply dismissed the findings of the engineering report. In April, just two months before the disaster the condominium president complained that discussions about the fixes had gone on for years, yet action still hadn’t been taken. Continue reading

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Which part of ‘Code Red’ don’t we understand?

The publication of the first working group report (physical sciences) of the IPCC’s keenly awaited AR6 report in mid-August came against the backdrop months of genuinely alarming extreme weather events across multiple continents, from killer floods in Europe and China to deadly heatwaves, droughts and wildfires from Siberia to Africa, the US and beyond. Below is an explainer piece I filed for the Business Post to mark its publication.

THE SCIENTIFIC community has long understood that heating up the global atmosphere with greenhouse gases would, in time, lead to potentially dangerous consequences for the Earth’s climate system. This is uncontroversial. The real enigma that science is ill-equipped to address is that most elusive of variables: how humanity chooses to respond.

In the 30 years since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was first established to manage this emerging crisis, global greenhouse gas emissions have roughly doubled. We have created as much carbon pollution since 1990 than in all of human history up to then. Continue reading

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Climate emergency ‘widespread, rapid and intensifying’

I was asked by TheJournal.ie to write a reaction piece to mark the release of the first part of the IPCC’s new climate report in early August. I also recorded an Explainer Podcast with TheJournal.ie later in August.

JUST HOW MANY more ‘wake-up calls’ on the climate emergency are we likely to receive before the message finally gets through? That question hungover this week’s release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the first section of its mammoth Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

The report confirmed many of the worst fears of scientists and activists when it stated that the effects of climate disruption are now: “widespread, rapid and intensifying”, with the window to avoiding extremely dangerous and irreversible climate system breakdown rapidly closing. Continue reading

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Feeling the heat, then seeing the light

The story of RTÉ’s Damascene conversion on climate coverage has continued to gather pace. Below is a piece I wrote for the Business Post in early August explaining the background and context.

AS THE STATE broadcaster, RTÉ occupies a special niche in Irish life. It can also function as a sort of national Rorschach test, onto which people from all walks of life project their grievances, desires and demands.

RTÉ is routinely under fire from individuals and groups pushing agendas, from pro-lifers to anti-vaxxers and many more besides. By and large, this animus is unwarranted. By international standards, RTÉ is well regarded, employing some of our most talented journalists and creatives, and is widely, if often grudgingly, respected.

Senior RTÉ staff are used to scrolling wearily through thickets of social media posts excoriating the broadcaster for its perceived bias, prejudice or alleged corruption. Such scrutiny, fair or not, goes with the territory. Continue reading

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Winds of (climate) change finally blow through Montrose

I filed the article below for DeSmog, the international website specialising in climate denial and disinformation, in late July, in the wake of the sudden about-turn within RTÉ’s senior management over its climate coverage.

IRELAND’S NATIONAL broadcaster has publicly apologised for failing to link recent extreme weather events to climate change, pledging to set up a dedicated climate reporting unit in the run-up to COP26.

In an unusual move, RTÉ’s Managing Director of News and Current Affairs Jon Williams tweeted that the broadcaster had been wrong not to make the connection clear, calling it a “sin of omission” and insisting that the “lesson” had been “learned”. Continue reading

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