Spring is in the air! The morning birdsong delights the heart and brings a broad smile. The snowdrops are coming into full bloom. The daffs and other spring bulbs are slowly burrowing their way into the open. There are signs of growth all around us.
At the same time we cannot ignore the fact that the growth which we saw yesterday is quite likely to be completely under water today. We may also have noticed that really there was no stoppage of growth, no really dormant period. Neither did the birds leave us – just a little less song for the past few months. We did not experience the ‘normal’ bitter cold days and nights. We missed the bright glistening frosty mornings and we missed the evening red skies telling us what the morn would bring. There wasn’t the opportunity to hear the crunching noise as we trudged through 3 or 4 inches of snow.
Where have all the – not flowers but- winters gone? Have we skipped a season? Have we a new season of just rainfall and mild humid temperatures. Not only have the boundaries between the seasons become more and more blurred but the seasons are becoming almost unrecognisable.
Isn’t there a sadness about this? Isn’t it a cause for greater sadness knowing that this situation is brought about to a great degree by the way we humans, particularly over the last century, have chosen to be and to live on this magnificent planet. See YouTube “Call to Earth – a Message from the World’s Astronauts to Cop21” – a short but beautiful inspiring film.
As national election hype begins we can be asking ourselves what the real issues are just now. Are we able to put the immediate issues we have into the bigger and larger context. The reality is that many of the life systems of the planet including the human species are under threat of survival. We have long been talking about climate change and it’s effects on poor countries. We somehow assumed that the effects for us locally were in a vague future. Climate change is here and at a rapid pace. We can plan to adapt to climate change but we know that is only a temporary measure. As the famous Thomas Berry once wrote, we are arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic and ignoring the fact that it is sinking. We need to address the causes of climate change. This is challenging. But as a species we do rise to challenge.
What will our questions to canvassers be when they knock on our doors over the coming weeks. The following are possible ideas under four relevant headings:
- REDUCING OUR HARMFUL EMISSIONS:
For example, present Government policy to increase the current herd of 7.1 million cattle by 300,000 over the next 10 years, surely is a contradiction of our commitment to climate change at COP21 in Paris. One third of our current emissions comes from agriculture.
Have you a robust policy that will support farmers in adapting from cattle production to producing more cereal and vegetable crops?
Our transport system is drastically unsustainable from many aspects but particularly from an emissions aspect. Lack of public transport in rural areas is a major disadvantage.
Have you a public Transport Policy? If so will it encourage people to choose public modes of travel in preference to using private modes? Have you a Public Transport Policy specific to rural areas as well as to urban settings?
- RURAL SUSTAINABILITY:
Rural life has suffered severely under the outgoing government. Towns and villages have been devastated. The removal of Garda Stations, Post Offices and other State services and offices have resulted in low morale.
Have you a policy for Rural Life? Does your policy include restoring the infrastructure and local services that have been removed from rural communities? Does it include support measures to promote and to ensure the viability of the smaller self-supporting organic holdings?
- RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY:
We are trailing way behind our European neighbours and many other parts of the world in our replacement of fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.
Have you a policy for promoting Renewable Sources of Energy?
Do you have the conviction and therefore the policy to make sure that the provision of community-based co-operatives for producing Renewable Energy will replace the large corporations e.g Airtricity?
Will you ensure that the grant system is an adequate incentive for people to upgrade their houses to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. How will you ensure that the house owner receives his/her just portion of the grant along with the suppliers and fitters.