The Editor’s Corner

Only a few weeks ago saw Ireland basking in one of its hottest summers ever with temperatures soaring to 33 degrees in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on July 17th., an event that Met Eireann informed us had not occurred since 1887. But this ‘heat wave’ paled in comparison to what other parts of Europe were experiencing. In regions like Gironde in France, as well as parts of Spain, Greece and Croatia where the mercury went over 40, firefighters struggled to contain raging infernos that sometimes lasted days, wreaking devastation on crops, forestry and people’s homes, and tragically resulting in the loss of many lives. Now while people here might welcome some relief from the monotony of pluvial forecasts, and at the same time indulge in a dip in the Forty Foot, there is of course a more serious side to our erratic weather.

Climate change – with the smart science now pointing to humans as the greatest culprit – is by far the most important issue facing us in the 21st century. Gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide trap the sun’s heat and create a kind of blanket effect locking heat in, thus creating what is often referred to as the greenhouse effect. This impacts the world’s biodiversity, playing havoc with animal habitats, as well as creating fluctuations of weather patterns such as the extreme heat we witnessed in July, and the devastating storms now an all too common occurrence in winter; which we should probably brace ourselves for in the coming months. Records show that the planet’s mean temperature went up 1.1C since pre-industrial levels. An interesting, if slightly unnerving statistic is that of the hottest summers recorded, 19 of them occurred since 2000. Without being alarmist, if this were to continue by the end of this century the planet will be uninhabitable.

In 2021 Ireland agreed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and 51% by 2030, but we are nowhere near that, and falling behind on our committed EU targets, which are legally binding, will create financial as well as climatic headaches for us down the line. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) our greenhouse gas emissions are among the highest in the world.

Striking the right balance between doing what’s ethically right for the planet and future generations, and not wrecking the economy while doing so is, we understand, never an easy ask, but it is something that governments, not only ours, but the world over, particularly the serious polluters like China, the US and India, need to address with the greatest alacrity.

And environmentally conscious is how we kick off this late summer / early autumn edition, with our lead story of tales of cycling nostalgia. The benefits of cycling have been well documented, ranging from improving cardiovascular fitness to reducing stress and boosting mental health. In this regard Dublin City Council is to be applauded for the many cycle paths they are installing around the city. Likewise, full praise to new initiatives such as the ENTS Cycle Bus (Pg. 31). Elsewhere we drop in to say hello to the good folk at RICC radio (Pg. 4) and take a considerate look back at what was the beauty and horror of the Henrietta Street tenements (Pg. 30). Enjoy your reading.