The “clock is ticking” to counteract irreversible climate change, according to Ireland’s leading climate change scientist who was speaking in Letterkenny on Friday night.
Professor John Sweeney of the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, also said Ireland is a major offender in not keeping its agreements on reducing its carbon output.
While he outlined a serious situation in global terms of climate change, speaking after the event he said Donegal is “still in pretty pristine shape” and if planned properly into the future, could enjoy a range of benefits derived from the clean environment it enjoys.
He was guest speaker at an event hosted by Eco-Congregation Ireland and the Raphoe Justice & Peace Group for a talk entitled “Climate Change: the clock is ticking”.
A large crowd, including the Mayor of Donegal of Donegal, Cllr John Campbell, attended the event in the Regional Culture Centre in Letterkenny.
There were also guest speakers from the Eco-Congregation group from Northern Ireland and Inchicore in Dublin.
Professor John Sweeney has been a lecturer at the Geography Department NUI Maynooth, since 1978.
Born is Scotland he has strong Donegal connections with his father hailing from Gortahork, Prof. Sweeney is regarded as a leading authority on the subject of climate change.
He has taught courses primarily related to climatology, but he has also taught biogeography, geomorphology and environmental resource management and has taught and researched at a number of universities in North America and Africa.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press he stated: “Donegal hasn’t changed that much. It hasn’t been subjected to the large scale intensification of agriculture that the rest of Ireland has. It is still in pretty pristine shape in many mays. There have been some aberrations in terms of planning in the towns and villages, that are everywhere in Donegal, more than most. But it still has an awful lot to offer. That is partly because it is not as densely populated. It has the marginal land dominating the whole landscape, so it has the potential for being intensively farmed like Meath or Kildare.”
During his talk he outlined how statistics can now be tracked back thousands of years and all the evidence points to a major rise in carbon emissions since the 1980’s.
He outlined how it is now human elements that control the weather for the first time in history, and not the other way around as it has been for millennia.
Speaking of the impact of sea level changes to the northwest he stated: “Hornhead is the windiest place in Ireland. Certainly when you are looking at the coastline of Donegal, because it is hard rock, crystalline rock, so it is not likely to suffer from sea level problems that places in the east coast would have. Donegal is a county that needs to be very carefully planned and if it is planned with sensitivity it will have enormous attractions for people in the future.”
Eco-Congregation is a group established to promote a vision to see churches throughout Ireland adopt an eco approach to worship, lifestyle, property and finance management, community outreach and contact with the developing world.
Guests were treated to reception after the talks concluded.