Sunday 18 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Not fair to make farmers the whipping boy for emissions'

It is very disheartening to see farming once again used as the whipping boy for carbon emissions while the rest of the country ignores their responsibilities in this regard. Stock Image
It is very disheartening to see farming once again used as the whipping boy for carbon emissions while the rest of the country ignores their responsibilities in this regard. Stock Image
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

As a dairy and beef farmer, I would like to respond to Rob Sadlier’s letter on the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to deal with climate change by reducing the size of the national herd and eating less red meat (‘We must all play our part in putting an end to the wilful and selfish destruction of our planet’, Letters, August 10).

It is very disheartening to see farming once again used as the whipping boy for carbon emissions while the rest of the country ignores their responsibilities in this regard.

Farmers recognise that they are part of the problem but they are also part of the solution. In a recent ‘Farming Independent’ survey, 85pc of farmers said they would plant more trees and adopt other scientifically proven measures to reduce emissions, such as solar panels and new slurry and fertiliser spreading technology.

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There is also promising research being undertaken in universities in Galway, London and Argentina on methods of reducing methane emissions from cattle by up to 85pc.

Both the IPCC and the Citizens’ Assembly completely disregarded all of this work before arriving at their conclusions. Their main aim seems to be to lay the blame squarely at the feet of farming while avoiding anything that will inconvenience their own lifestyles.

Air travel is a huge polluter. One return flight from Dublin to Spain accounts for 15pc of the average Irish person’s annual carbon emissions, yet nobody is suggesting that we close down Ryanair or Aer Lingus. Quite the opposite in fact – Dublin Airport Authority has plans to double passenger numbers by 2040.

Carbon emissions from call centres and internet usage are increasing by 40pc per year in Ireland alone. How about closing down the call centres and having an amnesty where we could all hand in our electronic devices to have them decommissioned?

Transport accounts for about the same amount of emissions as agriculture. How about banning the citizens of Dublin from car usage as they are already well served by public transport, unlike rural dwellers. 

So you see, Mr Sadlier, it’s easy to point the finger at the 30pc of emissions produced by agriculture while ignoring the 70pc produced by everyone else.

Gerard Doherty

Glenmore, Co Kilkenny

Irish beef production makes good environmental sense

Rob Sadlier’s letter on Saturday seems very unbalanced. It blames agriculture for causing a third of total emissions.

What about the other two thirds?

Our motorways are clogged with vehicles, often with one person per car, while overhead are planes belching fumes into the upper atmosphere.

In relation to meat, it’s a well known fact that beef and lamb are high quality sources of protein and beef a high source of iron.

A big percentage of cattle and sheep are produced off permanent grassland that is not suitable for arable crop production, and is itself a carbon sink.

Surely it makes sense to produce high quality food for a growing world population in low input systems such as Irish permanent grassland systems?

Tom Dickson

Moate, Co Westmeath

Remembering the Peterloo massacre, 200 years on

This Friday, August 16, will be the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester.

After the Napoleonic wars and Waterloo, Britain experienced a massive economic downturn.

Thousands of soldiers were demobbed, and men and women who toiled and sweated in factories and cotton mills were paid meagre wages, nowhere near enough to feed themselves and their families.

Life in the newly industrialised north of England was harsh and brutal.

Prior to the massacre, various working-class leaders made many attempts to improve conditions but the government of the day simply had no interest.

Tens of thousands of people made their way from afar on foot to St Peter’s Field to make their voices heard to the establishment, insisting on equality, democracy and free speech.

The organisers of the meeting primarily                      sought political representation. At the time Manchester had not one single MP in parliament – this was due to a “rotten borough” system. Soon after one of the leaders, Henry Hunt, spoke, a massive mounted militia bulldozed its way through the crowd, killing 22 innocent people.

Immediately afterwards, the leaders of the meeting were imprisoned. However, no soldiers would be prosecuted for this savage attack on innocent civilians.

Parliamentary reform would start some years later with the passing of the Reform Act 1832 by the Earl Grey government to simply stop the “run on the Bank of England”. This would be the first step towards Britain eventually achieving universal suffrage.                                           

Kieran O’Regan

Dublin 9

Irish Independent

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