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Seasoned Irish climate campaigners ‘spurred on’ by climate strikes

Ireland, Climate Change and the Power of Small States

This article first appeared on The Green News, 15 March 2019, with the title “Seasoned Irish climate campaigners ‘spurred on’ by climate strikes”

Today, over 1,750 climate strikes will take place in some 110-odd countries – Ireland included – inspired by actions of one 16-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg.

This is the same Greta Thunberg who was recently vetoed by European political parties, EPP and ALDE, from giving a speech at the European Parliament. Fine Gael is a member of the EPP, and Fianna Fail a member of ALDE.

Given Fine Gael’s Euro-party position, it is curious that the Taoiseach is “inspired and enthused” about this week’s climate strike. Is he inspired and enthused enough to show real political commitment to dealing with climate change?

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Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel

The Ecologist: Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel

This article appeared on The Ecologist, on behalf of the Clean Arctic Alliance

Ban on heavy fuel oil transportation from Arctic waters is on the agenda of the world’s shipping experts.

Shipping specialists from around the world are shuttering themselves in the International Maritime Organization’s central London headquarters this week to thrash out a number of issues surrounding the threat of pollution to the climate and oceans from the global shipping industry.

This is an industry that for most of us remains unseen, but which we depend on for bringing us stuff from all over the planet.

At this meeting, the elegantly titled “PPR6”, delegations will be tasked with designing a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil, as fuel, from Arctic waters, and the identification of measures which will reduce emissions of black carbon from the burning of fossil fuels.

Read More »The Ecologist: Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel
Greenpeace ship Esperanza on her route towards Antarctica in a Force 10 storm.

Some Good News: We are all crew on this voyage

About a month ago, Deutsche Welle journalist Irene Quaile AKA Iceblogger wrote, in a piece titled Some Arctic good news – not #fakenews!

“With the environment and climate under constant fire from the actions of President Trump, it is great to end the week with a little piece of good news”.

“One thing that made me smile was the announcement that the famous cruise ship operator Hurtigruten had signed the Arctic Commitment, calling for a ban on the use of marine heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic.”

“So let’s go into the weekend with a round of applause for the tireless campaigners for a clean Arctic. It is hard for an environment journalist to be optimistic in these difficult times. But every little helps. And winning over the cruise ship industry which so many people associate with holiday expeditions into remote areas with intact nature and spectacular wildlife would be a great way to get a wider public “on board” for the voyage to protecting the icy regions of our warming planet.”

Read More »Some Good News: We are all crew on this voyage

An Beal Bocht

Cop21: The Poor Mouth in Paris, starring Enda Kenny

An Beal Bocht
Performance of An Beal Bocht by Myles na gCopaleen by the Irish Theatre Group at the Warehouse Theatre in Brussels. Photos (c) Dave Walsh 2013,

Ireland’s dear and glorious leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stood manfully astride the COP21 podium in Paris. Holding the lectern in a white-knuckled embrace, Enda rolled out Ireland’s comprehensive plan for taking global leadership on climate change, and he would personally corner Hollande, Obama, Merkel, Putin and Xi Jinping and the rest of them into finally saving the planet.

Enda had clearly been consulting the governmental ouija board while on the governmental jet to Paris, such was his close channelling of the spirit of his predecessor, Garrett Fitzgerald, on the powerful Diplomacy of Small States. In his speech…

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The Slaney River and the World

For all the travelling I’ve done, it’s always good to come home. I am writing these words 50m away from the River Slaney, in the south east of Ireland, with a a copy of Crossabeg: The Parish and its People (Vol 2) waiting for me. And I’m honoured to be featured in the book. When my neighbour here, Alice Devine, one of the team who put the book together asked me to write something about my travels, I thought the best way was to show how my upbringing in Crossabeg provided the foundation for everything that followed – including my trips to the Arctic and the Antarctic. For those of you not able to get your hands on the book, here’s what I wrote:

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Scientists hiking across Humboldt Glacier

Greenland’s Glaciers: Waking the Sleeping Giants

Crunch, crunch, crunch, leap crevasse… “oomph”. Crunch, crunch, crunch, run, “hup!”, jump, CRUNCH, “oooof”.

It’s one o’clock on a windless morning. I’m walking on Humboldt Glacier in the high Arctic of northwest Greenland, my ears filled with the clumping of my own boots on the ice. The sky above is bright blue, and the sun is low, flirting with the horizon. It will be another few weeks before it sets.

Read More »Greenland’s Glaciers: Waking the Sleeping Giants