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Image / Editorial

Wake-Up Call: Ireland Is Colder Than The Arctic This Week


by Grace McGettigan
26th Feb 2018
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Ireland is facing its worst snowfall since 1982 with the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ due to hit the country on Tuesday. Not only will it cause huge disruption to transport nationwide, but also to schools, businesses and agriculture.

MET Éireann has issued a status yellow warning for the entire country, with temperatures falling to -3 degrees last night. Evelyn Cusack told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the weather warning is expected to turn red in the coming days. According to the forecaster, we will experience blizzard-like conditions by Friday. This cold snap is being caused by cold air being pushed down from the North Pole over Europe. When this cold air meets the warm, moist air being pushed up from the south, it will result in freezing, snowy conditions.

However, this is not just a freak spell of bad weather. It’s a global issue that’s been a long time coming. As we prepare for our coldest week in years, the Arctic is experiencing it’s warmest. The weather station in Cape Morris Jesup, at the northernmost tip of Greenland, noted that the temperature jumped by over 20 degrees Celsius. That brings the average daily temperature of the North Pole above freezing point – and people wonder if the ice caps are really melting.

Global warming has been on people’s radar for ages, but few of us have ever taken it seriously. We watched the documentaries; we’ve seen the disaster movies, yet we still carry on as though everything’s fine. It’s time for that to change. Celebrities, including Leonardo Di Caprio and Al Gore, have been trying to wake us up to the reality of global warming for years. Now that it’s affecting our own weather system, perhaps people will finally take action.

There are small changes we can all make in our personal lives that will help the environment in the long run. Here are four examples:

  1. According to Conservation.org, 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are a result of deforestation. While it’s up to governments to tackle that figure on a national scale, we can contribute on a personal level too. Incorporate plants into your living and working spaces to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Whether it’s a small desk plant, a large corner plant or even a newly planted tree in the garden, you can make a difference. Swap your concrete-covered driveway for grass and flowerbeds, or add flowerpots to your outer windowsills. Small changes like these add up.
  2. Invest in renewable energy. More families are kitting out their homes with solar panels than ever before, and the Irish government is prepared to support that. According to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Denis Naughten, a scheme to financially support small-scale solar energy generation in Irish homes will be rolled out this summer. Put simply, grants will be available to those who want to make their houses more eco-friendly.
  3. Although initially expensive, swapping your petrol car for an electric car will save you money on fuel in the long-term. As it stands, a €5,000 rebate on vehicle registration tax is available to anyone who purchases an electric car, while taxi drivers can claim back an additional €7,000. Despite the cash incentives available to people, the uptake on these environmentally friendly cars is slow. Only 81 cars were purchased in Ireland over the last 12 months, according to the Irish Times – a 35% decrease compared to the previous year.
  4. It sounds simple and you’ve definitely heard it a million times, but reduce, reuse and recycle. Allocate bins for particular materials and make sure all paper and tin is clean before sending it to the recycling centre. Anything with food waste on it cannot be recycled, so be wary of pizza boxes with sauce and pepperoni stuck to the inside. Takeaway coffee cups are 100% not recyclable and every day two million (!) of them are sent to landfill, says Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party. Cut down on them where possible or invest in a reusable Keep Cup instead. Find more ways to cut down on plastic waste here.