Friday, December 5, 2008

Forty Shades of Green

Have you ever heard that in any view of Ireland you see 40 shades of green? After spending some time in Southern Ireland this past summer, I started thinking about what global warming is doing to the wonderful Irish landscape, we all know and love. I have compiled below a few high-level facts that I have came across.

"All is changed, changed utterly." In a time of relative peace in Ireland, a new foe has arisen that threatens to change the face of Ireland." William Butler Yates

Scientists predict that by 2050 winter rainfall will increase by 12 percent and summer rainfall will decline by the same. Thus turning the lush green landscapes into patchy brown and green fields.

  • The sea is swallowing up on average about 750 acres of Ireland’s land each year. Its the changing global temperatures that are slowly altering the landscape, flora and fauna. (red indicates land mass flooded by increase in sea-level)

  • The current primary crop in Ireland (the potato) is already showing evidence of decline, because of it's dependency on an adequate water source. Climate change could yield too much water in some places at some times and too little of it in other places at the same time, therefor hindering an adequate water supply.

  • Due to expansive economic growth in the last 20 years, Ireland's demand for energy has grown by more than 70 percent in the last 15 years, thus resulting in an increase for fossil fuels and petroleum based products.

  • The landscape will have a visual change to vegetation and land use, due to greater weather extremes. Lands in certain regions of the country will continue to grow fields of wheat, barley and corn as the climate changes, but with warmer and dryer summers, brown fields will be much more common. Thus reducing tourism (one of Ireland's top resources).

  • The change in rainfall will put one of the Irish landscapes unique features, peat bogs, at risk of more frequent “bog bursts “when masses of peat loosen from their bedrock and slide down slopes. (comparable to a mudslide)


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