Paul Melia: We face bleak future if we don't act now
Published 06/02/2014 | 02:30
THE time for debate is over. Even oil-producing giant Saudi Arabia accepts the science of climate change, and unless we act now we face a very bleak future.
Communities face an anxious few days amid warnings that major rivers across the country are at risk of bursting their banks following two months of prolonged rainfall.
In many cases, flood defences will not be in place to protect homeowners and businesses. Those already hit with losses in recent weeks may well face further pain.
And while we cannot explain the extreme weather of the last two months as being caused by climate change, all the indications are that something is happening.
Average temperatures in Ireland have increased by more than 0.7C since 1890. Six of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1990. The number of days with frost is falling, and there has been increases in annual rainfall.
Not until we have centuries of data can we prove that we are in the grip of dangerous climate change, but we don't have the luxury of time.
The report from NUI Maynooth sets out a range of measures that local authorities and Government should adopt to help communities.
They include new regulations aimed at making homes and buildings more robust and capable of withstanding extreme weather events such as driving rain.
Septic tanks should only be permitted in locations where contamination of drinking water sources is unlikely, and the Government needs to develop clear policies to help drive change.
There's no point in arguing that Ireland is a small country and any changes we make will have no bearing on global temperature rises.
We must reduce emissions and find cleaner ways to power our homes and business.
Changes to behaviour at the most local level can help, and will put us in a position to help drive the international agenda.
The flooding of recent days shows what happens when the extreme weather predicted by climate change scientists comes to pass.
Adopting a wait-and-see attitude to the problem is no longer an option. It's time for change.