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Saturday

Ireland's Green Delusion

Sure, isn't Ireland a grand little country? Endless - mostly benign - wind blowing in from the Atlantic. Sweet rain, again driven by the Gulf Stream, pristine by most standards. Lush, green fields as far as the eye can see. Naturally beautiful landscapes in every direction. And then the Irish happened.
"The only way to stop repeating our catastrophic mistakes is to abolish politics and political parties." - Gary J Byrnes

Though the Republic of Ireland is less than a century old, we've already ruined the environment, poisoned the water, destroyed the view and pumped more than our fair share of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Ireland's disgraceful environmental failings include:

  • We dig up our bogs, which are unique wildlife habitats, safely storing millions of tons of carbon. And we burn their peat, releasing more greenhouse gases than even filthy coal. It's 'tradition'.
  • We put poisonous fluoride into our drinking water, as the peasants are too dumb to buy fluoridated toothpaste. Ireland is the only country on the planet that necessitates this mass medication by law. Then we privatise the whole water network so the peasants can be made to pay for it, without doing anything to reduce the wastage - estimated at 40-50%! - from the Victorian-era pipe network. Pay up, Paddy!
  • We let Shell develop huge natural gas fields off the west coast in a deal so bad for Irish citizens that we may never see a cent from it. Profit share? You're having a laugh - we're thick Paddies!
  • Whenever there's a strong gust of wind, power lines are knocked down plunging thousands into darkness. So what do they want to do? Build more pylons, of course, across beautiful vistas. Put wires underground? Are you mad or something?
  • Ireland hates nuclear power because east coast residents have been poisoned - been given cancer, some would say - for decades by the Sellafield disaster zone across the Irish Sea. So what do we do? We connect the Irish and UK grids so that nuclear-generated electricity can flow to Ireland and wind-generated power can be exported to the UK to help them meet their targets. But what about our own targets? Erm...
  • The ESB, Ireland's monopoly power company knocked, an entire Dublin city street of beautiful Georgian houses to build an ugly concrete head office.

The EU has set ambitious targets to help mitigate the disastrous effects of global warming, aiming for 27% of energy to be generated by renewables (such as wind) and 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (compared with 1990 levels) by 2030.

Ireland currently generates just 3% of power from renewables and actually increased greenhouse gas emissions in 2012! While the new EU targets are overall, not country-specific, I fail to see how our bungling, self-serving government ministers with responsibility for environment and energy can possibly get us on the right path in time. Their track records do not engender confidence.

If we are to stand any chance of compliance, we need a coherent wind power policy, one that doesn't foist the bill on the taxpayer to suit the UK, and we also need to shut down our peat-burning power stations with immediate effect. But the only way to stop repeating our catastrophic mistakes is to abolish politics and political parties as we know them, building a participative democracy in which citizens collectively take decisions. And not just in Ireland, but everywhere on Earth.  It can be done. It must be done or the entire planet is fucked.

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