Comment: Going electric makes sense for the planet and the wallet
"Straighten your hat, you're near the Junction," is a saying that was once common throughout the Midwest. It refers to the train journey between Limerick, Cork and Dublin, which necessitates a change at Limerick Junction. Travellers lived in fear of falling asleep, missing the change and waking up miles from home.
In terms of climate change, it's time that we straightened our hats because we're very near the junction. If we sleep through the narrowing opportunity to make changes, the next generation could find themselves living on a hostile planet.
Climate change is the issue of our time; it is the dark shadow at the back of our consciousness in the same way that Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) from nuclear war was the dark shadow in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. We went about with a lingering sense of doom and somewhere in the back of our minds we were conscious of nuclear buttons in Moscow and Washington that could, any day, be pressed, putting paid to life as we knew it.
Nowadays, we all have a finger on a destructive button. Our everyday decisions are having a severe impact on the capacity of the planet to sustain life. In fact we are completely flying in the face of our nature as living organisms in systematically destroying the habitat where our young should be able to survive and thrive.
I know the mention of climate change causes many farmers to go pale. As soon as someone brings it up those who make their living from the land expect the conversation to turn to flatulent cattle and their greenhouse gas emissions. Those accusing farmers of being the primary agents in climate change not only have the wrong end of the cow but often the wrong end of the stick.
The debate about the nature and causes of climate change must be based on fact. Let me state that I regard climate change to be a fact and I also accept that human activity is the major contributory factor to its progress, especially its speed and severity. It is also a fact that modern agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn are the major factor in global warming and climate change.
According to the Irish Academy of Engineering, in 2015 agriculture accounted for 33pc of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions. At EU level and at national level this is recognised and the current rural development programme has incentives for 'greening' farming practices.
We have climate change strategies to beat the band and we even have a government minister for climate change. We have signed up to international agreements and as part of our European commitments we have agreed to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 20pc on 2005 levels by 2020 and 30pc by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits that we are not going to hit our targets and could face massive EU fines.