I was in the city centre on Friday night, just as the polls were preparing to close, and happened upon the hugely impressive illuminated Liberty Hall (hard to miss, in fact, and far and away the most dramatic installation the city has seen since poor Lord Nelson got blown off his perch in 1966).
Below is some footage I recorded with my trusty iPhone video:
By 10.30pm on Friday, the bush telegraph was rattling furiously with news from Fine Gael’s exit poll indicating a thumping 2:1 Yes vote. And by the 11am news bulletins on Saturday, it was clear that Lisbon was done and dusted.
Sympathies, after a fashion, to RTÉ and others, who had been planning hours upon hours of coverage across the 41 constituencies. They had to rapidly reshuffle and curtail coverage once it was clear that there was no doubt whatever about the outcome. It may not have been what the international media travelled to Dublin in such huge numbers to witness, but too bad, it was a great result for us and for the EU, and that’s what matters.
The lack of emphasis on the part of the Irish media on such esoteric topics as Copenhagen and the climate crisis was brought home by the distinctly luke-warm coverage of the Comhar Green New Deal launch on Thursday. While it made the early morning bulletins and a short piece on RTÉ’s Six-One TV bulletin, it had disappeared by the main 9pm news bulletin. To be fair, it did re-surface on Prime Time with four-minute report by Mike Milotte.
However, by Friday morning’s papers, it was pretty much a non-story, featuring in a small inside news page report in the Irish Times, similar in the Examiner. The Irish Independent, Ireland’s largest selling ‘quality’ daily, was far more interested in the forthcoming Green Party convention on whether or not to stay in government. It covered the Comhar launch in totality as follows:
“….He (Gormley) was speaking at the launch of a ‘Green New Deal’ plan — and was anxious to avoid discussing animal health and climate change policy”. If there was more, then I missed it. The Irish edition of the Sun apparently had a piece called “Go green in the red”. My subscription must have lapsed, so I missed last Friday’s edition, and modesty seems to prevent them posting it online, thus we can only wonder what their enigmatic headline was all about.
The point remains: this stuff is just not engaging the Irish media. My admittedly limited monitoring of the broadcast media over the weekend drove home that sense of same-old-same-old. It’s not just that they’re not talking about the climate crisis/calamity, increasingly , it seems like they simply don’t know how, or are blithely unaware of this being something rather more than just another of those esoteric “international” news stories that is dusted off and dutifully (and minimally) covered every now and again.
This is a topic to which I hope to return later this week.
Climate change is seen as an issue mainly of concern to middle-class environmentalists. As long as climate activists keep trying to bring people into the environmentalist fold they will fail. Most of them don’t even get how this is a problem.
We have a chance here unprecedented in the last 15 years to tap into a public mobilising against bailouts of the criminals of finance and the climate. Where is the engagement from the climate movement?
The virtual wall of silence that has greeted Comhar’s recently published ‘Green New Deal’ report is typical of the failure to date of the environmental crisis to gain political traction in this country. This persistent failure to ‘join the dots’ has in my opinion been exemplified in recent weeks by the failure to consider the workings of NAMA in the context of this crisis, with potentially disastrous results for the country. This is how I see it:
• The data stream on climate change continues to overtake all but the worst case predictions, presenting the world with an increasing challenge in addressing these;
• Even if all of the hoped for measures were to be adopted at the Copenhagen conference in December –and they won’t be -this wouldn’t be enough to pre-empt dangerous climate change: the game of ‘catch-up’ must accelerate;
• At some point in the very near future the global community is going to have to get ahead of the climate change curve, which will involve an increasingly painful change the longer that this leap-frog is postponed;
• This process will inevitably have a negative impact on GDP across the global economy, dependent as it will continue to be on unsustainable levels of energy and material resources use for some time to come even in the most optimistic scenarios;
• The countries with the highest per capita carbon footprints will need to make the greatest adjustments: Ireland would be in the top 15 in this regard and almost certainly tops the table within the EU.
The only possible way now for the more profligate economies to begin to move their levels of consumption quickly towards the sustainable global average –essential for any hope of reaching a global consensus –will be, to a greater or lesser extent and for the foreseeable future, to mitigate potential GDP growth, with consequent negative impacts on perceived asset values. In effect the economic model on which we are mortgaging the future of the country continues to be shredded by events outside the remit of the business pages, while as a society we appear incapable of making the mental leaps necessary to anticipate probable real world events.
It goes without saying that all of the above is based on the most optimistic scenario –i.e. one based on a mutually agreed scaling down of international levels of consumption. In fact a far more likely set of global outcomes will lie somewhere between disaster and catastrophe: then all bets are truly off vis-à-vis long term…..etc., etc., etc.!
Being intimately involved with engaging people on the subject of climate change, I appreciate the above sentiments of both Peter and Ian. It can be a difficult task trying to capture the attention of the Irish public and media.
However, Oxfam Ireland’s campaign ‘Climate Change Destroys Lives. Let’s Face It’ (http://faceit.oxfamireland.org) has over 4,000 people actively involved and focuses primarily on the human impact of climate change.
We recognise that climate change is not just an environmental issue but also a human rights issue and one of global justice.
I truly hope that the stern task ahead of us in the lead up to Copenhagen does not discourage people from becoming involved and forcing world leaders to listen.
David, very pleased to hear how well the Let’s Face It campaign is doing (I signed up at your stall during the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire). You’re right too about not getting totally discouraged (however easy that may be) and to keep on banging the drum in the hope that the public and the pundits will snap out of it in time to get serious on this issue.
It’s just sometimes, as I listen to the same old talking heads on the radio singing the same outdated tunes, it’s hard not to want to switch to Lyric FM and just throw in the towel. Still, that too would be an easy option, and the time for soft choices and easy options has, I suspect, passed. JG