We only have one planet

It's not just climate change. It's everything. The oceans, the forests, the the extinctions. We have to figure out how to look after it all. That'll mean changing a lot of things about how we live and eat and travel. And we might as well get on with it.


I used to work in the oil business, and recently in the electricity industry. 25 years ago it was unclear that renewables could ever practically replace fossil fuels without either large scale natural gas on standby or nuclear power taking the baseload. Today it's clearer every day that renewables and storage can do the job. The transition away from fossil fuels is already well underway and we should be doing more and more to accelerate it. Solar, wind and storage will all be needed.

That'll mean carbon taxes to discourage use of fossil fuels. It'll mean investments in the grid (and potentially unpopular interconnectors). It'll mean wind-farms and solar farms around the country. It'll mean change.

If you're reluctant to change then the only ethical option you have is to suck it up. It has to happen.

The news recently (28/05/2021) has an article about locals in Kildare opposing an electricity storage unit. Why? Because it'd be near them.


Ireland - even in the cities - is ridiculously dependent on the car and increasingly on the SUV. It's appalling. Our kids cycle to school and are some of the very few children at their schools who do. A couple of years ago I saw five Volvo XC90s stopped outside one local school; each of them dropping off one child.

While there are some nice examples around the country (e.g. the Seapoint bike path) we also see quite clearly dishonest NIMBY resistance to a bike-path in Sandymount and in other places around the country. While countries like the Netherlands and Denmark (and increasingly even cities like London) are doing something to reclaim the streets, Ireland is operating at a snail's pace.

Public transport is one solution (buses rather than trams in general), but so are less centralized measures. Promoting cycling. Promoting electric bikes and cargo bikes. Promoting even mopeds and scooters. Getting big heavy cars off the road. I saw a black 211-reg Range Rover on the Merrion Road the other day. Who the hell buys one of those cars to drive from Blackrock into the city? SUVs in Ranelagh village? In Sandymount village? What the hell? Whatever about SUVs there, there's absolutely no reason to have an SUV inside the canals.

We have a good motorway network now and once electric cars are common it may well be fine to have inter-city transport including a major share for cars. And if you (like we do) take part in a sport that requires transporting equipment it's hard to substitute for a car.

But we do NOT need to use cars to drive the kids to school or to commute a few kms to work in the cities. We have to change that. And quickly.

While I don't know if it's actually a practical policy, we should be looking at ideas like making the Merrion Gates an actual gate....no-one gets though in a car with fewer than 3 people during commuting times. Bikes, e-scooters, cars with 3 or more people, blue permit holders....on you go. Otherwise? Turn around.


In the medium term it looks as if the global population is going to peak and the population of Europe is likely to decline significantly in the next decades. Living - as we do - in one of the most agriculturally productive countries and continents on the planet, we should be well able to adjust our food practices to be significantly more "sustainable". But what the heck is "sustainable"?

Well, a bunch of things...

  • Controlling agricultural CO2 emissions (the farmers are going to hate that)

  • Maintaining fish stocks and ocean habitat in all our own and all EU controlled waters (the fishermen are going to hate that)

  • Planting trees. Lots of trees. (deciduous ones in Ireland and most of Europe)

  • Changing our diet to include less meat and maybe less dairy (I'll hate that)

These changes might make the sacred "family farm" more or less economic. Lots of family enterprises have become more or less economic over the years and there's no reason to continue polluting rivers or destroying the oceans just because doing so is a "family business". New family businesses also arise all the time and will do so as we migrate to a more sustainable future.

Geo-engineering or not?

While the focus on climate change actions should be on reducing and eliminating climate emissions (getting to net-Zero), there are other things which might work. These vary from thing like planting lots of trees, to recovering CO2 from the air, to messing with the oceans to make them absorb more CO2.

These could all be called "geo engineering".

Some people are against geo engineering no matter what the actual measure is. I think that's daft.

Yes, it's obvious that changing the chemistry of large sections of the ocean is a more drastic step that could have more unexpected side-effects than planting trees. It's also obvious by now that we are behind the curve in terms of stopping dramatic climate change and we may need to try some stuff. So let's discuss each measure on its own merits or on its own demerits.

From what I know today, here's a quick summary...

  1. Planting trees - let's get on with it. Deciduous please, in Ireland.

  2. Recovering CO2 from the air - a technology that's emerging. CO2 can be turned into solids and stored, or stored in gas caverns. If it's economic, let's get on with it.

  3. Seeding the oceans - seems to have solid logic behind it, but it's immediately scary. If it worked right, could have huge impact. It it went wrong, could have huge impact.

  4. Sulphate dispersion in the upper atmosphere - feels a bit like seeding the oceans.....

There are more.