Ireland’s floods and Global Climate Change

Socialist Worker 386

Ireland’s floods and Global Climate Change

Jim O’Connell, People Before Profit candidate for Cork South Central, reports

On 24 December  land west of Kinsale  had for weeks been in a state of complete saturation. A relatively short spell of rain deposited huge volumes of water on fields completely sodden for weeks. With rain actually stopping, lower fields filled like fish-tanks and over spilled ditches, breaking them down in the process.  Surges converted roads into a series of lakes and rivers laden with rocks and debris. Helen Williamson, a local resident called it “the most frightening thing ever seen in the locality”.

Nearby, the current spell of storms again caused havoc in the town of Bandon. After floods in 2009 the government had promised protection works. No works were even begun  commenced and again businesses and homes were ruined. From early December Bandon experienced multiple severe floods.

In East Cork the main Cork Waterford road is still impassable with a major flood . Homes in Mallow and Midleton are uninhabitable. Margaret Daly of Midleton is visited by the Red Cross with bottled water and told to triple-boil any water she uses from the town supply because of contamination.

Afric Prendergast whose home in Castlemartyr was flooded with 1m of water said “We’ve never before seen floods of this severity and speed. We’ve had many floods but the water usually recedes within two or three days, I never remember the  N25 closed for long before due to flooding.  It’s a wonder nobody was swept away!”

The accounts of flooding, land and property damage and contamination are repeated throughout the country with farmhouses and huge tracts of land under water. In Galway 100 roads were flooded and new lakes appeared everywhere with just the tops of electricity poles showing.

The Taoiseach has been nearly as invisible as usual. Some ministers slither out of their comfortable lodges, don waders or even wetsuits and wade in for photo-ops. Some are pulled around in boats.  There are the “concerned” statements, the promises that “this time something will be done”. No coincidence at all that an election is in the offing, “this time”.

“This time” some people have had enough.  The people of Bandon are taking their protest to the streets of Dublin likely to be joined by more from around the country devastated by  storms and floods who rightfully feel ignored by  government. We all should show solidarity with protests and pressure on this government to live up to its responsibilities. This would go some way toward alleviating the devastation.

Commentators make the case for learning to live with the vagaries of weather, taking measures like not building on flood plains, better management of our rivers and watercourses and taking positive steps toward reforestation etc. to mitigate the effects of severe weather and increased rainfall.  We should support such efforts but no matter how hard we work to alleviate the problems of the effects, unless we recognize and properly address the cause, the time we can buy to avert catastrophe grows less with each severe weather cycle.

SW BANDON FLOODS PROTESTMeasures to alleviate floods will always be necessary. However, unquestionably the worsening extremes of weather are caused by climate change. Also unquestionably the economic system we live under, capitalism, is incompatible with the fight against climate change.

Under capitalism, the health and well-being of people will always come a distant second to the interests of the energy-hungry, atmosphere-polluting corporate corporations that lay waste to our environment in relentless pursuit of profit. Without question, human activity is responsible for rising CO2 levels and increased global warming. This is compounded and accelerated by the effects of an overly competitive wasteful industry where the only goal is wealth accumulation for the few. With capitalism in control “agreements” like those announced recently in Paris are heralded as major steps toward fighting climate change instead of recognizing them for what they are, more fudges and lost opportunities.

Socialists fight capitalism because it enslaves workers, breeds greed and unfair competition for resources, thrives on racism, war and oppression and violently resists all efforts to emancipate the working class. It does all this for its own self-preservation.

However its survival instinct is a parasitic contradiction. It destroys the very host it feeds on – the environment. We have to fight against capitalism for all of the above reasons and more.

We must defeat capitalism for the survival of the planet and ourselves.

 

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