Letters to the Editor: Media must report on societal impacts of failure to act on climate change 

One reader suggests renaming the Berkeley Library in honour of those whose labours paid for Trinity College at its foundation, while another says two wrongs do not make a right in Gaza
Letters to the Editor: Media must report on societal impacts of failure to act on climate change 

Climate change is affecting Irish people right now, a reader emphasises. Picture: Denis Minihane

I refer to the many interesting articles that have been published recently by the Irish Examiner  on the impacts of climate change and the inaction that continues to be shown by both the Irish Government and the Irish people.

The will of the Irish people can drive Government policy but the will for radical action isn’t there and I think therefore the real issue is the disconnect that Irish people feel in relation to the climate crisis and how it will affect them personally.

I believe this is because much of the reporting in the media in Ireland focuses on the environmental impacts of climate change — rising temperatures, increased forest fires, and winter storms, etc. 

Many in Ireland do not see these as an imminent threat to our way of life and assume that as a country with a mild climate, we are not at serious risk of these effects or that we can mitigate them (eg, by use of flood defences in the case of flooding risk).

It is for this reason I think the Irish media should report on the societal impacts of failing to take action on climate change so people can see that these risks pose much more of a challenge to us.

As we have seen over the past few years, Ireland and much of the world has seen significant inflationary challenges as a result of the war in Ukraine and the covid pandemic, among other factors.

One overlooked element in the inflationary mix is the impact of climate-change disasters on food prices. As droughts, fires, and floods become more common across the world, they are going to wipe out crops in larger numbers, meaning there is reduced supply for ever-increasing demand (as the world’s population increases). This will have the impact of pushing up prices and therefore directly lead to increased food bills for people in Ireland, to say nothing of the suffering that will be inflicted on the people of the global south in such circumstances.

Other societal impacts of failing to take action on climate change include increased migration and the rise of climate refugees as some regions of Earth become uninhabitable. Wars and conflicts will also arise as a result of increasingly scarce resources and these will in turn lead to further migration. As we have seen in the UK, US, and other European countries, increases in migration lead to increases in populism and the destabilisation of democratic norms.

Climate change is not some far-off thing that is going to affect only the people of the global south or future generations, it is happening now and affecting Irish people now and will do so into the future.

There is still time to slow down and prevent the worst effects of climate breakdown but we must act now and take serious action, including making adjustments to our way of life. To understand the need for action, people must be informed of the real risks to them of inaction.

Kate Fagan, Wicklow

Renaming Berkeley

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has announced it will ‘consult’ the general public about renaming the Berkeley Library. Hopefully it will not be named for some wealthy donor as so often happens in universities, especially in the US.

Trinity College Dublin could recognise the contribution of rent-paying peasants to its original funding by renaming Berkeley Library ‘O’Dorney Library’.	Picture: PA
Trinity College Dublin could recognise the contribution of rent-paying peasants to its original funding by renaming Berkeley Library ‘O’Dorney Library’. Picture: PA

Since no one can guarantee that anyone will not be cancelled in the future, would it not be safer to avoid naming the library after any individual, but instead name it to collectively honour the forgotten people whose labours paid for Trinity at its foundation?

Trinity was originally funded by endowing it with great swathes of confiscated land in Munster after the Desmond Wars, most famously the lands around Abbeydorney in Kerry, formerly belonging to a Cistercian abbey, whose ruins can still be seen to this day.

The unfortunate inhabitants of these parts became TCD’s first donors, albeit very reluctant donors. Whatever surplus was produced by these peasants (my own ancestors) over and above mere subsistence, went toward the upkeep of this alien institution in the centuries of apartheid we call our Penal Times.

Ó dTorna was the name of the tuath thereabouts in pre-Norman times, while ‘O’Dorney’ is the colloquial name of the village.

If the library was renamed ‘O’Dorney Library’ it would be an acknowledgement that there are few things in the past history that we can celebrate unreservedly, even so noble a thing as the founding of a university. It would also be a humble acknowledgement that academia is privileged, and always dependent on the labour of others, whether the rent-paying peasants in the 1590s or taxpayers today.

Tim O’Halloran, Finglas, Dublin

Israel’s actions not defensive exercises

Listening to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday (November 16), I found something very incongruous about the statement that “the Israeli Defence Forces are now in control of Al-Shifa Hospital”.

The number of Palestinian fatalities over the past five weeks now stands at more than eight times the number of Israeli fatalities on October 7. Unicef reports that this figure includes more than 4,600 Palestinian children.

Wounded Palestinians in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Picture: Abed Khaled/AP
Wounded Palestinians in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Picture: Abed Khaled/AP

As for Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip, I hardly need to explain the likely impact of a massive indiscriminate bombing campaign upon their safety. Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari quickly admitted that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy”.

On this basis, the current Israeli military onslaught is neither a defensive manoeuvre, nor a rescue mission; it is a reprisal, redolent of the punitive invasion and sacking of neighbouring indigenous communities by colonial powers in the 19th century.

Nor can the Israeli military’s actions, even in times of relative quiet, be characterised as “defence”; Israeli troops are largely deployed in an illegal expansionist project in the occupied West Bank, where they facilitate what Dáil Éireann has unanimously recognised as “de facto annexation”, and where they have killed 182 Palestinians over the past few weeks.

It is time our national broadcaster began to question the Israeli state’s denomination of its military as the ‘Israeli Defence Forces’.

Brian Ó Éigeartaigh, Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Blanket bombing

The attack that Hamas carried out on October 7 was evil. The vicious murder of more than 1,200 Israelis including women and children was disturbing on so many levels.

However, two wrongs don’t make a right and the indiscriminate and murderous bombing of Gaza is equally disturbing, with more than 11,000 civilians killed, 4,000 or more of whom are children. 

The rationale seemingly is that if ‘we can get one of those Hamas fighters who we think is hiding out in that hospital or school’ then murdering 100-plus innocent civilians in the process is justified. It is not. Irrespective of international law it is plain, wrong, wrong, wrong.

It would be the equivalent of the British blanket bombing the Falls Road estate during the Troubles and wiping out the near entire population on the basis that there was a few ‘safe houses’ therein.

Éamon Ó Béarra, An Spidéal, Co na Gaillimhe 


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