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World lacks the will to tackle our changing climate



Date Published: {J}

I have the usual problem with current events here. By the time you read this the world might have been hit by a vast meteor storm, for example, obliterating all human civilisation. If it has, I want to thank you for your perseverance. It must be hard to concentrate on an opinion column when there are packs of feral dogs out for your tasty flesh.

And perhaps this is not so far-fetched; between now and Friday one global catastrophe may well have struck – the climate conference could have collapsed. This may not bring about as sudden an end to civilisation as rocks from space, but it will be almost as sure.

That the climate is getting warmer, there is no doubt. We may not be feeling it around here a lot, what with the sub-zero temperatures we had at the weekend, but weather is complicated. A warmer sea for example will evaporate faster, making more clouds to blow inland.

That makes the weather colder and wetter for people like us who live on the coasts. There is no doubt that the planet is warming overall though, and doing so more rapidly than at any time in history. Some still deny it, but these are mainly fruitcakes of the right who have trouble differentiating what the world is from what they want it to be.

Such people would sooner claim that all scientists are in a global conspiracy against them than accept that there could be anything wrong with their way of life.

Even when they acknowledge that climate change is a reality, they will deny that it’s the result of human activity – and as you can’t take two copies of Earth and add extra carbon to one, the fanatics will always be able to say the case is unproven. But the rise in temperature so closely coincides with the rate at which we’ve burned fossil fuels that to deny a connection takes grim determination. Nowadays just about everyone accepts it– even oil companies. Exxon still funds some climate change sceptics, but has admitted there seems to be a relationship. The president of Shell warned the Bush administration that action needed to be taken as long ago as 2004.

So everyone’s agreed there’s a problem, and we can decide how to fix it. Right? Unfortunately, no. The action we need to take will mean some pain, for everyone, right now. We in the developed world will have to take a hit to the quality of our lives. We need to price out the fossil fuels, and that is inevitably going to make things more expensive. In effect, we will have to become poorer. Those in the developing countries meanwhile will have to accept that they cannot aspire to the lifestyle we in the West enjoy now. Are we really all going to sit down and agree to that?

There’s not a hope in Hell, frankly. Even though climate change could cost millions of lives and incalculable sums from crop failure, flooding and ecosystem collapse, even though just about every government on Earth accepts that we need to act swiftly to avert disaster, we aren’t going to agree. Because disaster in the future will never outweigh discomfort in the present.


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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