THIS is simply bigger than anything, isn’t it? This heat. This weather. As I look out now the fields are brown. There is an amber alert for the electricity system as we all try to stay cool.
Climate change? Global warming? It is not a debate anymore, is it? It is a reality. It only seems like yesterday that Pat Kenny was inviting climate change sceptics on to his show as if to suggest there wasn’t an overwhelming scientific consensus.
Of course, we’ve had hot summers before. I remember them as a child, as a young man, and just a few years ago. But I remember them because they stood out. Even with our memories convincing us that all childhood summers were long and glorious the ones that were actually long and glorious linger in our minds. They were events. They were different.
But they are not going to be different anymore.
This is what it is going to be like from now on and it is going to be a fundamental alteration. July just gone was in the top three of hottest Julys worldwide.
The Antarctic sea ice is at its lowest ever on record. The Antarctic might sound like a long way away from the hills of Clare or the lovely fields of Kerry but those hills and fields aren’t as green as they should be. Forty shades of arid brown doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
As I write this news has just come in that, as of tonight, our local water supply is to have night time restrictions due to ‘the significant increase in demand during the hot weather combined with a recent decrease in rainfall.’ We don’t have enough rain. In Ireland. On the Atlantic coast.
But, perhaps, only God is in charge of the weather, as some in Ireland would put it. The idea of trying to affect it by personal actions can seem so pointless that putting it in the realm of some Supreme Being appears to make sense. It certainly would make sense of the dreary political wrangling around climate action that has featured again and again this summer.
Every proposal by the Green Party faction of the coalition is met by an outraged bleat by a Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil backbencher more concerned with protecting his seat than the fact the sky might be falling in.
Suddenly only those of us living in rural Ireland understand rural Ireland and to listen to some of these TDs we are all living a hundred miles from any facilities and only heat our houses or cook our food because we have the oul bog there to cut away in. And that’s not even the actual opposition. That’s the government versus the government — TDs in the same party rowing and quarrelling about it.
Outside of a few farmers up winding boreens and the crowd praying around the grotto nobody understands rural things like the weather and rainfall like these guys. Only these fellas realise that any attempts to alleviate the worst effects of climate change are really attempts to punish the rural way of life. One politician’s response to the government’s climate action bill last year was to say that ‘rural Ireland will be crucified’ by it.
But the fact remains. This is bigger than anything, isn’t it? It is not even hyperbole to say that the very future of our planet hangs in the balance. Yet we are represented by TDs squabbling over some false representation of a place and a people. Those of us living in rural Ireland aren’t going to be the only ones hit by extreme weather but we aren’t immune to it either. TDs trying to tell us that the government is picking on us and us alone is simply nonsense. Childish nonsense. And now, more than ever, with the thermometer rising, we are going to need real grown ups in charge.