Everyday we hear about climate change in newspapers, television and from people we meet. The thing is, most people don’t actually understand what it means. So, what is climate change? Climate change “means a significant change in the measure of climate, such as temperature, rainfall or wind, lasting for an extended period (EPA,2019). Climate change has been happening since the mid twentieth century but has gotten progressively worse in the last twenty years. It is due to a number of factors but the main is the use of fossil fuels. When fossil fuels are used, they release harmful substances and gases into the atmosphere which effect the ozone layer. It is already starting to have an impact around the world and this impact will get worse if nothing is done. Ireland is a country that depends on its climate for the many industries it has. Two of the main ones are Agriculture and Marine and fisheries. Climate change is beginning to have a big impact on these industries and many people are starting to get worried.
Agriculture is one of the biggest sectors in Ireland. Milk products such as cheese and butter are exported worldwide as is our beef. Many of these products are winners of prestigious awards and are admired for their quality. How are these products so good? This is due to the climate here in Ireland. We have a climate where the weather is not to hot in the summer and not too cold in the winter. This results in good quality grass that cows eat and the products produced because of these cows are then of such a high standard. Sadly, this might not last forever. Climate change in the last few years has resulted in the weather here in Ireland changing. There has being in an increase in extreme weather events such as the drought of summer 2018. This drought resulted in a fodder crisis as the extreme heat prevented grass growth. Extreme weather events like this are affecting farming which results in a decrease in food products. Agriculture is a livelihood for many people in Ireland and if there is lack of fodder for their animals, their livelihoods are at stake. How did this happen? One cause of this is the amount of methane produced by livestock. Ireland has one of the highest carbon emissions of 33.1% (Agriculture.gov.ie, 2015). Methane emissions are primarily due to livestock fermentation and manure management and this has increased in recent years (Agricuture.gov.ie, 2015). A report by the Department of Agriculture found that agriculture emissions increased by 1.6% in 2015. They found that the increase in dairy cows due to the abolition of the milk quota were the main reason why. (Agriculture.gov.ie,2015).
Like Agriculture, the marine and fisheries sector is very important to Ireland. According to the Irish Sea Fisheries Board, it is worth 700 million (Desmond, M., O’ Brien, P. and McGovern, F, 2017). Climate Change is a big worry for this sector and will sadly have a big impact. Coastal and inland river flooding, increasing sea level and erosion affect the ecosystems living in this marine environment((Desmond, M., O’ Brien, P. and McGovern, F , 2017).Our rivers and seas are home to a diverse variety of species and habitats and Flooding results in these species being shifted from their homes and being put in danger. Erosion destroys their homes and results in a large number of them dying (World Wildlife Fund, 2019). This is more common in foreign countries but is starting to happen a lot more in Ireland. These effects the marine and fisheries sector as the number of fish and quality of fish are decreasing more and more.
Although climate change is not affecting this country as bad as other countries, it is starting to. It is scary to see how this epidemic can affect such important sectors in Ireland that people rely on. The quality of the food we produce will be reduced because of it. The people of Ireland all have to do something. First of all, I think the government must take greater responsibility. They talk of trying to reduce climate change but I don’t think they are being serious enough about it. They need to find better alternatives to fossil fuels because at the moment the alternatives are not realistic for everybody. Farmers have to do something better as well. They must be responsible when increasing their number of livestock. Increase in livestock results in more methane being released into the atmosphere (Agriculture.gov.ie, 2015). Farmers are thinking about the money aspect and not about how this could affect the future of Ireland. Everybody must take action, not just the farmers and the government. Climate change is affecting the industries I have discussed above massively but is also affecting the lives of everyday people in Ireland as Ireland won’t be the same in fifty maybe twenty years if proper action is not taken. Climate change is not affecting other countries around the world, it is impacting Ireland too.
List of references
- Agriculture.gov.ie. (2015). DAFM – Climate Change and Agriculture. [online] Available at: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/ruralenvironmentsustainability/climatechangebioenergybiodiversity/climatechangeandagriculture/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].
- Desmond, M., O’ Brien, P. and McGovern, F. (2017). A Summary of the State of Knowledge on Climate Change Impacts for Ireland. Report 11(2010- 2016). [online] Cork: Environmental Protection Agency, pp. Page 7-8,13, 19-21, 26-27. Available at: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/research/climate/EPA%20RR%20223_web.pdf [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].
- Epa.ie. (2019). What is climate change? Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland. [online] Available at: https://www.epa.ie/climate/communicatingclimatescience/whatisclimatechange/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].
- McKibben, B. (2009). Climate Change- ‘ Scientists Are Divided.’ Washington Post Newspaper, pp. Page 32- 34.
- World Wildlife Fund. (2019). Soil Erosion and Degradation | Threats | WWF. [online] Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/soil-erosion-and-degradation [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].