Friday 23 August 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'We must all play our part in putting an end to the wilful and selfish destruction of our planet'

Food for thought: The latest IPCC report suggests eating less meat could help protect the planet
Food for thought: The latest IPCC report suggests eating less meat could help protect the planet
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Surprise, surprise. A special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recommended reducing meat consumption. The report states that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels might not be achievable unless land is used in a more sustainable and climate-friendly way.

The IPCC also warns that farmers (ironically) and communities face intense rainfall, floods and droughts resulting from climate change and that land degradation and desertification threaten food security and risk precipitating increased poverty and migration.

Agriculture is the leading cause of our greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around a third of our total emissions.

Bizarrely, our agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are predicted to increase over the coming decade. We face possible fines of €600m per annum from next year if we do not change course regarding our emissions. How does any of this make sense?

Governments from across the globe are due to meet in New York next month to consider the IPCC's latest findings. I call on our Government to join the dots, stop equivocating and take action - as in real, actual action - to combat climate breakdown, including action to reduce our agricultural emissions, for example through reducing the national herd, diversification of food production and afforestation.

I would also ask meat eaters to consider the environmental cost of their diets. That steak, burger or lamb chop is the end product of a process that emits harmful gases, and uses a massive amount of energy in an unsustainable way, which when scaled up exacerbates climate breakdown.

We are but brief custodians of this, our only home. We should start acting like it, before it is too late.

Instead we are, wilfully and in full possession of the evidence, destroying it.

Rob Sadlier

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16


Economic growth poses threat to the environment

The Celtic Tiger did much to sustain the myth that if the economy grows it will benefit all. This same ill-grounded confidence is peddled by Britain's Brexiteers, although it is generally agreed by many economists that the benefits of growth do not trickle downwards; on the contrary, a form of osmosis known as greed tends to facilitate a relentless upwards trickle. Even hardcore economists find it difficult to say "trickle down" with a straight face.

The economic divide between the beneficiaries of the fruits of economic growth and those who just observe it, has generated a political divide that reinforces the advantage over the poor of the better-off.

What is becoming evident is the fragility of democratic institutions as divisions between competing views of wealth creation and distribution vie with one another. This is significant in relation to the persistent insensitivity to the impact of the misuse of the earth's resources, where again the poor of the earth are but hapless spectators.

One of the legacies of the heady Celtic Tiger years was an emerging awareness of the significant long-term threat to the environment that rapid growth and development pose. This includes the threat of irreversible damage to ecosystems, land degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

In Ireland, our future was hijacked and forfeited to powerful companies who ministered to various forms of rogue capitalism. The housing bubble resulted from reckless gambling; our country was securely in the hands of a powerful elite who had no thought for tomorrow. The rest of us were nurtured by the rhetoric of orthodoxy and resignation.

For some economists, poverty is assumed to be the price we have to pay if our economy is to thrive. The religious minded may be content to pray for the poor. However, there is little sense in praying for them while the rest of the world preys on them. As the poet Yeats would say: "The poor have only their dreams."

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, England


A referendum on PR may provide some Brexit unity

An alternative solution to a national unity government in Westminster (which is being mooted) to stop a no-deal Brexit would be to get legislation through - and if it means another referendum so be it - to see if the country wants to try proportional representation voting.

In a proportional representation system there is far more nuance as we know here in Ireland. You vote for your candidates: 1, 2, 3, 4…. in order of your preference. A number one vote for a Tory can be transferred into a vote for a Brexiteer (your number 2) if the Tory has been eliminated in the first count. More importantly, the Brexit Party wins (and feels the benefit) of your vote because you broadly agree with its philosophy ahead of the philosophy of the candidates you put 3rd, 4th and 5th.

After the count the distribution of MPs elected would fairly reflect the distribution of the electorate's preferences - and then coalitions can be formed if no single party has a majority. The electorate can vote tactically. In my view the Greens would do very well in this system as so many people would be happy to give them a number two. Equally anyone can vote only for Tories in first, second and third preference.

But, whether it is a proportional representation or first-past-the-post system, the most important question for the Conservatives is this: would they enter into a coalition with the Brexit Party to form a government and deliver Brexit?

And the most important question for Labour is this: would they enter into a rainbow coalition with the Greens, Lib Dems and SNP to form a government and run a second referendum on Brexit while canvassing to remain?

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire, Dublin


Global capitalism is poor driving force for societies

Mary Stewart thoughtfully cautions against "a campaign by those who value the economy more than a stable, happy society" (Letters, August 3). Her offering occurs in the key context of "cherishing children in a safe, happy environment". Hence the call for a "proper debate".

Supposedly, the economy serves society yet the former tends to hold sway.

The economy's first function is to supply requisite resources to ensure essential communal development.

It is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

It remains as such a good servant but a poor master.

How far if at all has Irish society become less a distinct national community than an international entity driven by the dictates of global capitalism?

Sean Bearnabhail

Dublin 9


Constant negativity is making all of us gloomy

Reading newspapers and listening to radio etc, it's worrying to note all the negativity regarding news reports. This can be very depressing to readers and listeners alike.

Personally I find many news items are negative in their content. If there is something good to report it is usually followed by the word 'but'.

All this negativity reminds me of an old poem which states: "We'll all be ruined says Hanrahan, before the year is out."

So may I appeal to all the naysayers "cheer up, it might never happen".

Leo Gormley

Dundalk, Co Louth


Britain should take some responsibility for Border

Since the Brexit debacle began three years ago, much has been written and broadcast about the Irish Border.

It is not an Irish Border, it's a British Border, put in place under threats of violence against the wishes of the majority of the Irish people.

James F Kennedy



University education is not vital for all careers

I commend your editorial ('Spirit of O'Malley demands inclusive vision on education', Irish Independent, August 8) but beg to take issue with you on one small but crucial point.

You state that "a third-level qualification (is) now vital to most career paths". Since your leading article is mainly concerned with university student accommodation, the inference might be drawn that a university degree is now a vital requirement for most jobs. Not so.

Society and the economy have a continuing and vital need of a vast array of skills not acquired in university.

Your assertion about most career paths needs to be amended so as to avoid inadvertently promoting 'square pegs in round holes'.

Seamas O Braonain

Dublin 6

Irish Independent

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