independent

Sunday 22 September 2019

Irish showing real concern for flood catastrophe in Australia

KATRINA DAL MOLIN

LAST WEEK it felt like the eyes of Ireland were firmly on Australia. The catastrophic devastation experienced in the far south of Queensland and the north of New South Wales as they suffered some of the worst floods in history is overwhelming and absorbing.

A good deal of media coverage has been given in Ireland to what is the first major natural disaster of 2011. The Australian floods are a hot topic amongst many Irish people at the moment, and it's no surprise. As far removed in distance as it is, our two nations have had a solid relationship for decades. It seems every Irish person has some connection to Australia.

Whether they've spent time living there in the past, or currently have children and grandchildren who have immigrated there, there is no denying the sense that what is happening so many thousand miles away is having an impact here. Especially at a time when the economic situation is forcing more and more young people to immigrate away from Ireland, Australia remains the most popular choice of destinations. And why wouldn't it be? The economy is stable, the workforce booming and as most people who visit there would tell you, it's as close to paradise as you can get.

Well at least it once appeared. The weather of the last 12 months would have you thinking otherwise.

After almost 10 years of severe drought, Queensland and New South Wales have been inundated with months of endless rain, which sounds good in theory. But when it becomes apparent that the rain is falling in such quantities that land once so dry it was barren is now so wet farmers remain unable to grow any crops, it goes to show that everything should be delivered in moderation.The extremes in climate being experienced there are difficult to imagine in a country where the climate remains quite consistent all year round. Although that too is changing annually.

It seems that more and more natural disasters and weather extremes are occurring around the world. What once felt like a sporadic event is all too often now a feature on the world news.

It would be a challenge to deny that the presence of human beings and the lifestyle we choose to live is having a detrimental impact on the environment. Mother Nature is hurting and she is screaming out for help. There is more that each of us could be doing to prevent further global warming, if not repair the damage already done. So why aren't we doing it?

The extreme weather Ireland and indeed Europe experienced late 2010 is a prime example of the climate gone crazy. Snow in the quantity in which it fell in November was unprecedented. It had not been seen before, but all indications suggest that it will be seen again. Quite regularly in fact.

From here on in the changes to the environment, the atmosphere and the earth which have resulted at the hands of human beings will see us all experience regular extremes in climate.

Not all will result in the death toll suffered in the Australian floods. But all will continue to affect us in ways we never could have imagined.

It's time for each of us to take responsibility for our lifestyles and make serious changes, because if we don't these heartbreaking images of destruction and loss will become so frequent we face the danger of becoming immune to their power.

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