Global Warming and Water conservation

Last Monday evening, at an event organised jointly by the Association of Catholic Priests and the Association of Catholics in Ireland, and held in Trinity College, we listened to John Sweeney speak powerfully about Global Warming. His talk was easy to follow, but enormously challenging.  The fundamental message I took for him is that human activity is leading to a gradual warming of the earth’s atmosphere, and that we are nearing crisis point. If we continue pouring carbon into the atmosphere at the rate we are doing it now the average temperature will have increased by two per cent, with potentially disastrous consequences for many different species of our world, including ourselves  The poorer parts of the world will suffer most, due to a rise in sea levels and climate change. In Ireland, John predicted, we will face wetter winters, with an increase in storms and flooding, and dryer summers, which will lead to problems with water conservations.  This will be most acute in the eastern half of the country, where the bulk of our population resides. So, we will urgently need, he said, to work at conserving water in every way we can.

The following morning I heard Paul Murphy on Morning Ireland rail against water charges, and assure us that he would do everything in his power to get as many people as possible to refuse to pay.  After listening to John Sweeney the evening before, I couldn’t help thinking how utterly out of touch Paul Murphy is with the real, urgent problems facing our society.  We have incontrovertible proof  that our water system is drastically in need of renewal, to prevent a large portion of it leaking away into the ground, and to begin to get all our people to realise what a precious commodity water is, and how we must learn to conserve it.

I know that independent politicians feel that they need to take up issues that will give them publicity, and help to get them elected. But the consequences of climate change are far too important to be used in this way.  The future of our world, the lives of the generations coming after us, are at stake.  It is a matter of great urgency that all of us work together to try to bring about the changes necessary to reverse the trend towards global warming, and to stop using such a fundamental issue as water conservation as a political football.

Incidentally, the second speaker that evening was Sean McDonagh, who spoke about the Papal Encyclical, and how it was a major breakthrough for the Catholic Church. Francis is giving significant moral leadership in this crucial area.  Would our politicians, of all shades, please take a lead from him.