Wednesday 20 June 2018

Now that the storm has passed

Footpaths are cleared in Kildare Town, Co Kildare - Niall Carson/PA Wire 1/3/2018
Footpaths are cleared in Kildare Town, Co Kildare - Niall Carson/PA Wire 1/3/2018
Editorial

Editorial

The national conversation will turn soon, if it has not already, into the state of preparedness for and response to weather phenomena such as Storm Emma and that which became known as the Beast from the East, both coming just four months after Storm Ophelia brought the country to a standstill. That conversation can be expected to take a somewhat cynical turn, to insist that the authorities over-reacted or that we must find another way to cope with what seem to be more frequent events other than to shut down entirely the normal functioning of society.

There is merit in the latter argument, particularly if these events become more the norm, but it would not do to submit entirely to such cynicism. As the snow eventually melts away, we will be left with other conclusions, which our grandchildren will recall when they talk in amazement about The Great Snow of 2018 in decades to come. First among these will be that there was no loss of life. This should not be lightly dismissed or brushed aside in haste to tell us how far better they cope with weather phenomena in other parts of the world. Secondly, there will be a grateful recollection of the response and actions by those at the front line of our emergency services, whose selfless voices were heard throughout the days, making their way to work for the general good of society, for the protection and care of others. This was, indeed, remarkable. No more than their job, the cynics might say, but they would be wrong. Certainly, it was the essence of public service and the public is grateful to them for that, but it was also more than that. It was the further outreach of our human selves, offered willingly. In the final analysis, it will be agreed that the emergency services were the heroes of the long, dark hours. But we must also agree that those, by now household figures, at the National Emergency Co-ordination Group and Met Eireann have won a special fondness.

It would be remiss, however, not to note that it also seems clear that climate change is likely to increase both the frequency and severity of such weather phenomena. There are also predictions that it will produce changes in weather patterns which will increase the slow-onset of disasters requiring a response more profound than mere acknowledgement and a return to our ways. These facts are mutable, of course, in Ireland and worldwide. However, the response must be greater and implemented with far more urgency. That much is also widely known and accepted.

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