A Flaming Summer

Only the most devoted conspiracy theorist could deny climate change given the devastating events of recent weeks. Spring was marked by deadly fires in Canada, terrible floods in Northern Italy and even an unfamiliar heatwave in Northern Ireland.

Now things have got even more deadly, with awful new fire outbreaks in Greece, Italy Algeria and Tunisia. And a severe worsening of ice melting in the Antarctic. Meanwhile, the drought and loss of agricultural land in the Horn of Africa is leading to starvation and population displacement – and contributing to regional wars.

Even before the apocalyptic events of recent weeks, the evidence was clear that climate change is happening. The hottest day ever recorded in the UK was in July last year. The hottest day ever recorded in Ireland was in August last year. All of the UK’s 10 warmest years have been recorded since 2000. And until this year, last year was Europe’s hottest ever. Over 60,000 people died from heat in Europe in 2022.

The Met Office states categorically that this series of hot weather records is directly related to climate change and results from the widespread burning of fossil fuels that began with the Industrial Revolution. It is probably now a matter of mitigating the crisis, rather than reversing it. But with much of Northern Ireland’s coastal areas at risk from rising sea levels, we have our own selfish interest in achieving the least worst outcome.

In the latest Holywell Conversations podcast, Professor John Barry puts the climate crisis in perspective. But as well as analysis we hear from the National Energy Agency’s home energy advisor Nichola MacDougall on what we can do to improve the energy efficiency in our homes – which will both cut our own carbon emissions, but also cut our heating bills during the cost of living crisis.

While there is a lot of discussion about the big ticket items that will bring down carbon emissions and heating bills, Nichola talks about some low cost improvements that will make a big difference. These include blocking unused chimneys and focusing on improved insulation around the home. For once political action can save consumers money, rather than spending it.

The podcast is available on the Holywell Trust website.

Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.

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