Letters to the Editor: 'We need decisive leadership to tackle climate change – time is running out'
Climate breakdown is the single greatest existential threat to life on Earth since an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The difference this time is that the asteroid is of our own making.
The evidence of climate breakdown is irrefutable at this stage. The last four years have been the hottest on record. Average temperatures around the world so far this year were nearly 1C above pre-industrial levels. The World Meteorological Organisation has warned that, if current trends continue, global warming could reach 3C to 5C by 2100. This will have tragic consequences for life on Earth.
A UN report published last week stated that we would need to triple our emissions reduction efforts to stay below a 2C increase. To stay below a 1.5C increase, our efforts would need to increase fivefold.
We may well be the last generation who can take meaningful action to mitigate the effects of climate breakdown on this, our only home. If we do not take action in the very near future (in the order of 12 years, it has been estimated), the consequences for life on Earth are likely to be catastrophic, and irreversibly so.
Ireland has rightly and embarrassingly been categorised as a laggard in taking action in the fight against climate breakdown. Meanwhile, the signs are ominous for our communities.
We face an increased risk of flooding, storms, hurricanes, droughts and other extreme weather events. We are on full notice of a creeping national, not to mention international, emergency.
More than 99pc of species that have ever lived are extinct. Are we to add countless others (and conceivably ourselves) to that list? Where is the political vision and leadership on this? What will our descendants think when they look back to the early 21st century when something could be done to halt climate breakdown?
We are wilfully destroying the only home they will have and what do we, the so-called thinking apes, focus on? Short-termism and adding the halfpence to the pence.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
Racism is a vile contagion that poses constant threat
The arson attack on a hotel earmarked for direct provision in Co Donegal and other suspected outbreaks of racism across the county should concern us all.
If we stand by and say nothing in response to such incidents we become complicit in this persecution of our fellow human beings, including people who have already suffered in horrific conflicts in other parts of the world.
Have they not endured enough of man's inhumanity without being subjected to hatred and intolerance in what we used to think of as the Land of a Thousand Welcomes?
Most Irish people who flocked to the cinemas to see 'Schindler's List' and similar movies have been shocked and sickened all over again at what was possibly the greatest crime ever committed on this planet. And they'd recoil in horror from reports or images of tyranny in faraway places.
Yet some Irish people seem quite capable of whipping up hatred against ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and refugees who, in their estimation, don't fit into Irish society.
Most of them wouldn't personally throw petrol bombs or physically assault anyone, but they forget that cruel words and persistent offensive name-calling can also be lethal in certain circumstances.
It's time we looked racism straight in the face and see it for what it is: not something that happens elsewhere, or in another time and place, but as a contagion that can infect our own minds at any time if we allow it to blind us to our humanity and to every person's birthright to live a decent life, free of hatred, fear and oppression.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
All I want for Christmas is a day free of the B-word
Santa, I know it's a little early for letters but, before you head off from the North Pole, I'd like you to remember all the suffering endured by citizens of these islands throughout the year because of Brexit.
Is there any way, just for a day, we could all enjoy a Brexit-free Christmas?
Santa, imagine the inner joy and relief you could bestow on us all with this simple gift. Families would make merry, children would scream in delight, political commentators would learn to live again and be free. The airways would hum to the sound of Christmas jingles, Gothic carols and the dulcet tones of Larry Gogan.
Santa, adults don't ask for much. As a male of the species, my needs are simple: a stocked larder, a full programme of football on Stephen's Day and permission to eat a selection box for breakfast. These things are within my reach. However, I leave Brexit up to you, Santa.
We all promise to be good for the next decade, with no excessive borrowing, no tribunals and no 'snap elections'.
A Brexit-free Christmas would surely be a Christmas miracle.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
We can no longer turn a blind eye to sectarianism
Michael Kelly is perfectly correct in calling on the Taoiseach to have dialogue with the Orange Order but pointing out that blatant sectarianism is not acceptable (Irish Independent, Comment, November 30).
It is true that the Orange Order bands regularly indulge in sectarianism outside Catholic churches and support gigantic bonfires on the 12th of July which cause many people to be evacuated, are harmful to the environment and cost vast sums of money to police. What useful purpose is achieved by permitting the charade of hundreds of marches, with many taking place where they are not wanted? Why is this scenario allowed to continue to the detriment of health and safety and the promotion of sectarianism?
We need to call time on the pretence that the Orange Order contributes to the harmony that is required in Northern Ireland, and to seek to support tolerance and respect for all traditions that contribute to this, rather than continue to overlook sectarianism, or worse, actually promote it.