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What to do about climate change, Galway International Arts Festival, July 20, 2019


Former Irish President/Professor Mary Robinson, well regarded by the mostly Irish audience, was introduced by Professor John Sweeney who presented the facts on climate change to the attendees at the GIAF First Thought Talks, Bailey Allen Hall, NUIGalway. Ireland produces as much CO2 as the 400 million poorest people in the world. The constant 410ppm of atmospheric CO2 in the northern hemisphere where there is a constant flux due to equal sea and land compares with a decreased CO2 in the southern hemisphere due to an excess of calming sea. The pre-industrial 278ppm of atmospheric CO2 was the control standard.

President Robinson was asked questions by Professor Sweeney who elucidated her involvement with the UN as Civil Rights Commissioner. In 2002 'Arch', Archbishop Tutu of South Africa, asked President Robinson to engage with the elders which she duly did and proceeded to influence the 2015 Climate Change conference. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC, USA's, recalcitrance was dismissed. Most USAnians are for climate action. The decision to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius was set by the elders. A rise in 2.0 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic. President Robinson insisted a gender requirement was inserted into climate change negotiations. Women in Ireland, during the 1930s, recognised the advantage of electrification in removing the drudgery of hard work from household chores. Women are affected by the basics of life cooking with kerosene or charcoal is hardship and dangerous. A 94 year old man David Attenborough alongside 16 year old Greta Thunberg are leading climate change activists. 7.8 billion people inhabit the Earth, 2.3billion have no access to electricity, shameful.

President Robinson is a leading advocate campaigning against climate change since at least the year 2000. Most of her predictions have come to pass. The questions began with how to deal with the sceptics, in fact a meeting with Pope Francis did not secure a 'family photo' until the oil industry sceptics brought in much needed concessions then the photo was secured; County Council published declarations on climate change were encouraged; 'my baby daughter what should she not do in the modern world?' - 'don't touch plastic'; the 800,000 transatlantic high altitude passenger jet journeys due in 2030 which spews water vapour into our stratosphere aiding global warming may be offset by video conferencing.

The talk was well organised and marshalled by GIAF personnel, with plenty of time for questions The session closed to sustained applause for President Robinson.

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