We need to be doing a lot more to insulate homes…

food, drinks, people

While personally, I have no desire to superglue myself to the Westlink, I generally agree with the activists of Insulate Britain. Home heating is one of my obsessions. I have given a scary amount of mental energy to it over the years. The core principle of insulate first makes sense. It is better to ensure homes are properly insulated before you think about the heating. A well-insulated home can dramatically lower energy bills as well as being more comfortable for …

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The case for a Climate Change Bill.

Ian Humphreys is the Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful  Climate change is a global challenge, that demands a global response. When we are faced with such a huge problem, that is vast in its complexity and contains many different required responses, it can, for a small population like Northern Ireland, feel like the cost of inaction is relatively small. However, in this piece I want to outline why we cannot wait to act and why having a local …

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The coronavirus remote working boom has made many modern offices obsolete and the impact on the economy will be profound

The announcement this week by Facebook that they would begin to allow most employees to work remotely was among many this week from technology companies announcing similar moves towards remote working. The coronavirus outbreak has seen a massive increase in the number of people working from home. In 2019, only 5% of the UK workforce worked exclusively from home. In April 2020, 39% of workers worked only at home, and whilst this has fallen to 33% over the last couple …

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Friday Thread: “Just 9% want everything to go back to how it was before…”

Interesting data on how folks in GB are dealing with the lockdown. Judging from the fact that flour rather than toilet rolls are the rare items on our shopping list, I would say this is pretty broad: Social bonds are stronger, with 40% feeling a stronger sense of local community and 39% more in touch with friends and family 42% say the outbreak has changed how they value food as an essential, and one in ten have shared something like …

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Ahead of the Stormont budget, should the Executive be rethinking its priorities?

With the first budget of the newly reconstituted Northern Ireland Executive expected shortly, there will be an opportunity to consider whether public resources are being directed appropriately to deal with Northern Ireland’s priorities for the decade to come. The table above shows UK public spending per person in each UK region for various expenditure categories for the 2018-19 fiscal year, in both monetary terms and expressed as a percentage of the UK average. For example, health spending in Northern Ireland …

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Climate breakdown: The time to act is now…

Images of intense storms, heavy flooding and devastating droughts increasingly feature in mainstream and social media. Extreme weather events are indicative of large-scale, long-term shifts in our planet’s average temperatures and weather patterns associated with climate change. We humans affect the earth’s temperature and climate by adding vast amounts of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal), cutting down rainforests and farming livestock. In 2019, levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2, the most …

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What Northern Ireland needs to do to decarbonize its economy

Following from the speech given by environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg at the UN General Assembly in New York this week, there has been a significant amount of discussion about the failure to respond to the world’s unfolding climate crisis. Northern Ireland contributes to greenhouse gas emission to a much greater extent than its small size would suggest. The charts at the top of the page show Northern Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2017, compared with the target of …

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‘We have a political process instead of a peace process’

Northern Ireland has “had a political process at the cost of a peace process”, believes Clare Bailey MLA, the leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland.  She is highly critical of the limited progress since the Good Friday Agreement 21 years ago and the lack of real social integration.  She was speaking in the latest Forward Together podcast. Clare questions who has benefited since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.  “Certainly within the working class and the most …

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Ards and North Down Declare Climate Emergency

Yesterday, on 27th February 2019, an eerily summery winter evening, Ards and North Down Borough Council passed Northern Ireland’s first Climate Emergency motion. Led by Green Party councillors Rachel Woods and Barry McKee, the motion was agreed without changes in a full meeting of the Council chamber. This comes not a moment too soon for a region which is set to face major challenges over the next 10-20 years as temperatures, and sea-levels, rise. Parts of the Ards peninsula, along …

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Future Ireland: Where Can The North Thrive?

For some masochistic reason, I feel umbilically connected to the soil and the soul of this island. Especially this messed up northern corner of it. But there is no point in drawing borders in the soil, and driving flags into it, when it only has 60 more years of harvests left to give. It occurred to me recently that the best case scenario for Northern Ireland, as things stand, is to have a mediocre Brexit, for Stormont to limp back, for orange …

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Cloughjordan Ecovillage – Another World is Possible for Belfast

Lessons for Belfast Urban Regeneration at Féile an Phobail 2017 By Peadar Kirby & Peter Doran While Ireland was living through the most severe economic collapse of its history since independence, a group of pioneering people were sowing the seeds of a new society through founding the ecovillage of Cloughjordan in County Tipperary. Seeking to model sustainable living for the 21st century, the ecovillagers conceived their project during the boom years of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger in the late 1990s and …

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Fossil Free QUB stage a sit in to raise the issue of Fossil Fuel divestment

SIT INS: This caught my eye last night, but over the past few weeks a group called Fossil Free QUB have staged a number of protests about the issue of the university investing in Fossil Fuels. However, last night the group have occupied the Administration Building on the campus and have vowed now to leave until the university acts on this issue.

The Pope Is Still A Catholic

Lefty atheists from North London to Northern California are in outrage today at the latest shock revelations that Pope Francis is, in fact, a Catholic. “The pope played us for fools, trying to have it both ways”, thundered Michaelangelo Signorile in the Huffington Post, outraged that the Pope had (briefly) met Kim Davis. Ms Davis, you’ll remember, is the rather silly Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on ‘biblical’ grounds while herself being on …

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Climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue

As world leaders meet today in New York for the UN Climate Summit, Eithne McNulty of Trocaire writes this guest post for Slugger to argue: Climate change is no longer a stand-alone issue, it is the entire context in which the world exists Humans, along with every other species, depend totally on the proper functioning of the planet for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. A small change to nature’s system can have the effect of knocking the …

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Vegetarian Stalinism Part 2: Ready the Gulags on the South Downs

Last month I highlighted the bizarre suggestion by the Green Party that in response to the flooding all government ministers and advisors who were sceptical of climate change should be sacked. Memorably when given the opportunity to refine and tone down this suggestion the leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett claimed that even those advisers with no connection to environmental issues should be sacked if they do not accept climate change. The BBC suggested the Chief Veterinary and Chief …

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Green Party propose sacking climate deniers: Vegetarian Stalinism?

Northern Ireland may have been spared the absolute worst of the weather this year (though the last couple of days have been bad) but the South West of England and South Wales have been extremely badly affected with the Somerset Levels heavily flooded. Then more recently the Thames Valley has been affected. Whether this flooding is actually worse than previous years has been disputed and the suggestion (made on Question Time on Thursday night) that the media only started to …

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“if you’re willing to put aside the conspiracy theories for a moment we will move on”

The publication of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s State of the Climate in 2009 report, with analysis by the Met Office, prompts the Daily Telegraph‘s Tom Chivers to produce the most sensible piece I’ve seen for some time on the subject. As Dan Gardner says in his wonderful book Risk: the science and politics of fear, to which I will be returning, the phrase “very likely” is about as strong as scientific language gets, and a 95 per cent confidence level …

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