Measuring and reducing the environmental impact of economic activities!!!

There are many measures in place to try and reduce the burning of fossil fuels and thus stop climate change. The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement that aims to reduce air pollution. It came into force in 2005, seven years after it was agreed. 141 countries approved the treaty and pledged to cut their emmisions by 6% by 2012. However many countries have not complied with these rulings and will not meet this target. Also developing countries which are quickly become industrialised, like Brazil India and China are not required to meet these targets because they are still only developing countries. Copenhagen is the new agreement to replace Kyoto and this conference took place in Dec 2009.

Pollution and Carbon trading was developed in the U.S in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The idea is that one industry might be able to greatly reduce its emmisions while another might not. Therefore this industry would pay the cleaner industry for its carbon allowance by putting a high price on emmiting greenhouse gases, pollution trading is meant to encourage businesses to invent new technologies to replace fossil fuels. Carbon trading also takes place between countries and many developed countries that have exceeded their levels can either cut down emmisions, borrow or buy carbon credits from developing countries.

Investment in renewable energy sources has increased grately in the last 5 years. Solar energy is now used to heat water in the form of solar panels. Wind turbines are used to generate electricity. In  Ireland alone we have commited to increase our wind energy output by 40% by 2012. Many goverments are investing in research and development of biofuels with a view to replacing oil in the big industries and transport systems.

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PROJECT ASSIGNMENT 2, GLOBAL ISSUES.

Track the development of India since its independance. Consider the sustainability issues that it faces.

India celebrates its Independance day on the 15th of August, commemorating the day they gained Independance from British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation in 1947. I will be discussing the major sectors of India’s development and the sustainable issues in the last 50+ years. India has seen massive improvements to its agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, tourism and transport infrastructure, which have benifited hugely financially from its Independance. 

India is the seventh largest and second most populated country in the world behind China, with a population of just over one billion. The population was estimated in 2007 at 1,129,866,154 people.  It also has a total area of roughly 3.3 million square kilometers, 28 states and 7 union territories. The fact that Indias population rose by 21.34 percent between 1991 and 2001 indicates how rapid this growth has been. The sex ratio (number of females per thousand males) of population is 993. Although India occupies only 2.4 percent of the worlds land area, it supports over 15 percent of the worlds population. Almost 40 percent of Indians are under the age of 15. There are numerous factors which account for India’s rapidly growing population, most notably a high birth rate coupled with a rapidly declining death rate. The high birth rates were often attributed to the lack of education in terms of family planning, however as India progressed into a developed country throughout the twentieth century birth rates remained high.

This suggests that India’s high birth rate occurs as a result of tradition and culture rather than a lack of education. The declining death rates has occurred as India has become more developed and improved its healthcare system as well as sanitation. This has helped increase life expectancy. While India was predominantly a rural nation for centuries, in recent decades it has become increasingly urbanised as the employment prospects are brighter in urban areas which also contain a grater variety of services.

Over 65% of India’s labour force is focused on agriculture. The agricultural sector has developed sufficiently in terms of food production mostly. New machinery and improved farming methods were introduced as a result of the Independance. The majority of farming takes place in the Indus Ganges Valley where 90% of land area is cultivated. This means the land is very good for vegetation. The most popular type of farming here is subsistent farming this is where farmers only produce enough to sustain themselves. Farms here are small and owned by landlords this limits the amount of acres a farmer can grow on. Agriculture in this region is influenced by climate and relief. Relief is divided into 3 areas (1). Northern mountains (2). Indus Ganges Plain and (3). the Southern Plateau. The Northern mountains is the least popluar region for agriculture. The slopes are to steep and prohibit productive agriculture, also the soils are to thin to practice farming. The Indus Ganges Valley is the most popular area as it contains deep depressions and rivers. The rivers flood the land and deposit rich fertile alluvium which makes soils excellent for growing crops etc. Most soils are fertile laterites. Rice is the main crop in India 25% of all crops grown is rice, however this depends hugely on climate. India experiences a wet monsoon and a dry monsoon. Rice is planted during the wet monsoon. During the wet monsoon crops of wheat, barley and peas are grown. Cotton and tea are grown in the Southern Plateau. This food production has lead to the development of the agriculture sector for sure. India has the largest livestock population in the world. The Hindu religion prohibits slaughtering animals so cows overgraze the land.

 The “Green Revolution” was also introduced as a renewable factor for agriculture in 1965. This is a sustainable approach to genetically modify seeds such as rice. This is a major advantage for food production in India as the genetically modified rice is resistant to many diseases. The Green revoulution introduced high yielding varities of seeds after 1965 and increased the use of fertilisers and irrigation, which provided the increase in production needed to make India self sufficient in food grains, thus improving the agriculture in India. Famine in India once accepted as inevitable, has not returned since the introduction of green revolution crops. The major benifits of the Green revolution were experienced mainly in the nothern and northwestern India between 1965 and the early 1980’s. The program resulted in a substantial increase in the production of food grains, mainly wheat and rice. The credit for this Green revolution goes to Indian scientists as well as to millions of Indian farmers who whole-hearthedly cooperated with the goverment to make India self sufficient in the matter of its food requirements.

The fishing industry has improved significantly since India gained Independance. Kerala is the most important fishing state of the Country. There are roughly 1.7 million full time fishermen in India. This sector has developed in terms of technology. Special advancements were introduced such as larger fishing boats, mechanised handling and modern processing units. Also ultrasound technology was brought in this allowed fishermen to target larger shoals of fish and increase their catch rate. Fishfarming along with shrimp production is promoted and encouraged for exporting to traders all around the world. Since the independance the goverment has been able to provide and support subsidies to poor fishermen who generally are above the age of 60 and cannot afford to provide for themselves.

India’s manufacturing sector has developed rapidly since 1947. At that time only 2% of the labour force were employed in industry. Since the Independance a number of factors have helped India’s industrialisation. The index of industrialisation has gone up from 7.9 in 1950-51 to 154.7 in 1999-2000. Electricity generation went up from 5.1 billion Kwh to 480.7 billion Kwh in the same period. The huge population provides a large domestic market and work force. As well as this the country has some important natural resources such as coal and iron ore. More than 60% of India’s electricity is generated in coal-burning power stations while HEP plants supply the bulk of the remainder. Finally, the large scale agricultural sector has led to the development of agri-industries such as fertilisers, machinery and food-processing. One of the main factors in the growth of industry in recent years has been the low wages which multinational companies can pay employees in the country. This has meant many industries have relocated to India, especially call-centre for many I.T. companies. India also has an increasing skill workforce. India now produces thousands of graduates per year. The manufacturing sector of India is relatively diversified with the bulk of employment in spinning, weaving, pottery making and the metal and woodwork industries. These are mainly small scale enterprises serving local markets. Products produced include clothing, textiles, rubber and tea.

Textiles and clothing is the single largest manufacturing industry in the region, producing cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic garments. Agricultural based industries are also common, with plants for oil-pressing, peanut shelling, sugar refining, and tea processing. Metal plants, such as iron and steel mills are located close to coal fileds. This is to save cost on transport. They can also locate close to rail or motorway on the outer suburbs of popular cities to provide easy access to the central business districts. Most of the raw metal plants are found close to coastlines because they require water as a natural resource to help sustain and cool the heated iron and steel.  The Indian-owned Tata iron and steel plant is one of the largest in the world. Industry is still concentrated in four main regions in India. In Calcutta alot of India’s traditional industries of clothing and textiles are located. Alot of the heavy industries of iron and metal are also located here. Chennai and Bangalore attract the light engineering footloose industries eg computers. Footloose industries mean they are small portable companies that can locate close to nodal points in certain cities. This region has become known as “Silicon valley” of India. The computer sector is now growing at 30% per year. Mumbai is home to alot of food processing industries and textile industries. Also, electronics and pharmaceutical companies have set up here. In the North-West one finds chemical and engineering companies. Overall, the secondary sector is growing steadily and there is an increasingly modern nature in India’s manufacturing sector.

Although the transport infrastructure in India remains serverly underdeveloped in places, huge advances have been made in this country since the country gained independance. The dominant mode of transport is rail. Also India contains the longest rail network of any country in the world. There is more than 62000km of track been upgraded and steam engines are been replaced by electric trains. Railways transport nearly all of freight traffic. In urban areas, rail is also very important with Calcutta opening an underground railway system in 1989. The road network has also been increased in lenght and capacity. In India the network of tarred roads has increased from 110,000km in 1947 two more than 1,500,000km in 2002. There is however a small car population of approximately 5 per 1,000 people. Bus is the preferred mode of transport but often conditions on the buses are over crowded and dangerous.

Air transport is dominated by the goverment owned airlines. Air India opperates most of the international flights while Indian Airlines operates routes within India. India has many major ports which include Calcutta, Mumbai, Paradip and Chennai. These ports handle 95% of all imports and exports. The inland waterways are declining in importants. Only about about 30% of India’s waterways is still used for commercial purposes.

The Indian sub-continent offers a wealth of attractions for tourists and has possibly the most diverse range of atractions of any country of the world. The physical attractions vary hugely from north to south. In the extreme north one finds the spectacular slopes of the Himalayas, these are one of the country’s greatest tourist assets. Amoung the massive peaks and fertile valleys are located lush tea-plantations and hill staions. In the south of the country one finds the oppertunity for safari tours east and west of the Dccan Plateau.

As well as physical attractions, India boosts many cultural, religious, historical and architectural sights, such as the Taj Mahal at Agra, the numerous temples, the religious rituals at the river Ganges etc. High class tourism can also be seen at eclusive coastal resorts eg Goa. Despite these attractions, tourism industry in India remains underdeveloped and investment is needed to ensure the growth of this sector.

India’s main problem today concerning sustainability is pollution. The environmental problems in India are growing rapidly. The increasing economic development and a rapidly growing population that has taken the country from 300 million people in 1947 to more than one billion today. This is putting a strain on the enviornment, infrastructure, and the country’s natural resources. Industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, and land degradation are all worsening problems. Overexploitation of the country’s resources be it land or water and the industrialisation process has resulted environmental degradation of resources. Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems facing humanity and other life forms on our planet today. India’s per capita carbon dioxide emmisions were roughly 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) in 2007, according to the study. Thats small compared to China and the US, with 10,500 pounds (4,736 kilograms) and 42,000 pounds (19,278 kilograms) respectively that year. The study said that the European union and Russia also have more emmisions than India.

The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately about two million people die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution, while many more suffer from breathing aliments, hearth disease, lung infections and even cancer. Fine particles or microscopic dust from coal or wood fires and unfiltered diesel engines are rated as one of the most lethal forms of air pollution caused by industry, transport, household heating, cooking and ageing coal or oil fired powerstaions. The four main causes of air pollution is (1) emmisions from moving vehicles (2) thermal power plants (3) indusries and (4) refineries. The problem of indoor air pollution in rural areas and urban slums have dramatically increased since India gained its Independance.

Vehicle emissions are amongst the most deadly toxins hovering the atmosphere as we speak. Vehicle emissions in India are responsible for 70 percent of the country’s air pollution. The main gas produced by these vehicles is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless and tasteless toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels eg oil, gas, coal, oil burners, solid fuel appliances etc. Carbon monoxide poisons by entering the lungs via the normal breathing mechanism and displacing oxygen from the bloodstream. Interruption of the normal supply of oxygen puts a risk at the fuctions of the heart, brain and other vital fuctions of the body. The major problem with goverment efforts to safeguard the environment has been enforcement at a local level, not with a lack of laws. Air pollution from vehicle exhaust and industry is a worsening problem for India. Exhaust from vehicles has increased eight-fold over levels of twenty years ago. Industrial pollution has risen four times over the same period. The economy has grown two and a half times over the past two decades but pollution control and civil services have not kept pace. Air quality is worst in the major populated cities like Calcutta, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai etc.

Lets not forget about river pollution in developing countries such as India. Contaminated and polluted water now kills more people that all forms of violence including wars. This is according to a United Nations report realeased on March 22 2010 on world water day that calls for turning unsanitary waste water into an environmentally safe economic resource. According to the report titled “sickwater” 90 percent of waste water discharged daily in developing countries is untreated. This contributes to the death of 2.2million people a year from infectious diseases caused by unsafe water drinking and poor hygiene. At least 1.8 million children younger than the age of five, believe it or not die every year from these water related diseases. Reports show that almost 80 percent of India’s waste ends up in the country’s rivers. Its disgusting really. Also with unchecked urban growth across the country combined with poor goverment ovesight means that the problem is only getting worse. A growing number of bodies of water in India are unfit for human use and are causing a serious problem for the developing side of the country. India is without doubt a developing country but needs to get a grip on the sustainable issues it faces.

India’s capital New Delhi has a body of water and is nothing more than a flowing garbage dump, with 57 percent of the city’s waste finding its way to Yamuna river. Its here where over 3 billion litres of waste are pumped into Delhi’s Yamuna each day. Only 55 percent of the 15 million Delhi residents are connected to the city’s sewage system. The remainder flush thier bath water, waste water and just about everything else down pipes into drains, with the majority of the pipes leading straight to the river Yamuna. According to the centre for science and environment, between 75 and 80 percent of the river’s pollution is the result of raw sewage. Combined with industrial runoff, the garbage thrown into the river totals over 3 billion litres of waste per day. This tells us that most of the river pollution in India comes from untreated sewage. Samples taken recently from the Ganges river near Varanasi show that levels of fecal coliform are present. This is a dangerous bacterium that comes from untreated sewage, were some 3,000 percent higher than what is considered safe for bathing. Its sad to think that most resisdents in India would consider the rivers a bathing area.

Im coming to the end of my essay but before I wrap it up I want to mention some of the facts on poverty in India considering poverty is a major factor which is not in favour of the developing country. Since its independance the issue of poverty within India has remained a prevalent concern. As of 2010 more than 37 percent of India’s population of 1.35 billion still lives below the poverty line. More than 22 percent of the entire rural population, and 15 percent of the urban population of India exists in this difficult physical and financial predicament.

The division of the resources, as well as wealth is uneven in India. This disparity creates different poverty ratios for different states. For instance states such as Delhi and Punjab have low poverty ratios. On the other hand almost half the population in states like Bihar and Orissa live below the poverty line. Poverty has many dimensions changing from place to place and across time. There are two inter related aspects of poverty, urban and rural poverty. The main causes of Urban poverty are predominantly due to impoverishment of rural peasantry that forces them to move out of villages to seek some subsistence living in the towns or cities. In this process they even lose the open space or habitat they had in villages albeit without food and other basic amenities. When they come out to the cities they get access to some food though other sanitary facilities including clean water still elude them. And they have to stay in the habitats that place them under sub human conditions. While a select few have standards living comparable to the richest in the world, the majority fails to get two meals a day.

Ive reached the end of my essay hope my opinion and facts about India help you understand the state their in! India has developed from an agricultural country into an urbanizied, industrialised country. However this has led to many problems for the country including poverty and environmenrtal damage. However it is definitly not to late for India to fix its problems and hopefully in the future we will see this happening.

References are as follows!!!

from the internet

http://adaniel.tripod.com/india.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India

http://www.gits4u.com/envo/envo4.htm

http://www.mapsofindia.com/indiaagriculture/

books from the leaving cert geography and other sources were are great help.

Economic & Commercial Geography – Rupa Publications.

Geography of India – Gopal Singh

Dictionary of Geography – Penguin

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Assignment 2, Project Poster!!

Presentation1 India final

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CSR, Have you got what it takes?

The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for a company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. Furthermore, CSR focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality.

Corporate social responsibility deals with ethical consumerism also. The rise in popularity of ethical consumerism over the last two decades can be linked to the rise of CSR. As global population increases, so does the pressure on natural resources required to meet rising consumer demand. Industrialisation in many countries is booming as a result of both technology and globalisation. Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social implications of their day to day consumer decisions and are therefore beginning to make purchasing decisions related to their environmental and ethical concerns.

We have heard and discussed alot of terms associated with Corporate social responsibilty, these include the “Triple Bottom Line” and the “Greenwash” phase. Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a holistic concept of sustainability where environmental, social, and economic considerations are identified and considered concurrently in decision making. It is envisaged that triple bottom line sustainable tourism development can lead to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.

Enough of that, now the “Greenwash” term is used to describe a deceptive use of marketing that claims a commitment to environmental good practice which is false or misleading. For example, in a time where travellers are well educated, well read and concerned about the environment, superficial approaches are easily detected. Therefore thoses businesses that can demonstrate that they are commited to making a real difference, and those caught in the “Greenwash” will be left behind. The implications of “greenwash” can not only affect your business reputation, but under the trade practice act, can also have legal ramifications.

Il leave it at that, thats my rough opinion on the CSR hope it gave an optimistic yet thought provoking idea of the matter.

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Lets go Green!!!

Sustainability has primarily been focused on the production of “Green Products”, the use of textile processing methods and supplying chain strategies that aim to reduce the environmental footprint of our industry. What is the vision for sustainable product development? and how is technology supporting this vision? As the demand for products continue to increase around the world and environmental factors like climate change increasingly affecting policies, it becomes more and more of a competitive advantage for businesses to consider sustainability aspects early on in the product development process. This needs to change! We need to start thinking more “green” and focus on the important measures needed.

 In Ireland, concerning sustainable development there are policies, but there is no action, there are plans but there is no implementations. “Ireland is not doing much on sustainable development”. This statement was according to the United Nations Environmental Programme at a conference held in Dublin on environmentally superior products in 1999! However, in the past 10 years Ireland has come to terms with this and gone beyond its capability to think green! Ireland prehaps has the best environmental regulatory system in the world with integrated pollution control licensing. The country also has a number of schemes, aimed at encouraging industries toward proactive environmental improvement. These include grants for environmental auditing, environmental management systems, environmentally superior products etc. There are also moneys available for recycling, raising public awareness and other similar measures. Infact most towns around Ireland have their very own TidyTowns committee which hugely benifits to their surrounding habitat. I can agree with “Tesco’s” slogan “every little helps” because it does!

 

Many people think that green production simply entails instituting pollution controls or recycling programs when manufacturing goods. The reality, however is that green production processes seek to minimize the impact of the manufacturing process on the environment at every stage. Green production focuses upon three fundamental goals (1). minimize emisions, effluents and accidents, (2). minimize the use of virgin materials and non renewable forms of energy and (3). minimize the life cycle cost or products or services. Reliance on recyclable or renewable materials, new energy and material conservation initiatives and replenishment programs such as forest replanting programs, have all been touted as effective tools in establishing processes that do not undurly harm the environment.

Green design incorporates environmental objectives with minimum loss to product performance, usefull life or functionality. Infact green supporters assert that it makes financial sense for businesses of all sizes and shapes to undertake the process of green design. Wastefull and polluting throughput processes, lead to inefficient use of material and human resources as well as occupational and public health risks. Corporations are realising that pollution prevention can be a cost saving activity (eg by lowering compliance, waste treatment, disposal and raw materials cost) Subsequently some businesses have increasingly steered their product and packaging designs to use less materials or to be easily disassembled so that high value components can be recycled or refurbished more readily.

All this is a huge contributing factor to the green industry around the world, all we need is effort and support and we can pull through anything.

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TAX INVASION!!!

The global financial crisis has created extreme short term pressures on businesses, but remain focused on understanding the commercial implications of climate change and developing sustainable business strategies. Tax plays an important role in these businesses to adress this challenge. Goverments all ove the world are introducing new tax incentives and regulations as a key component of their policies which presents businesses with a range of new oppertunities and risks.

This allows businesses to gain a competitive advantage in popular streams and adapt to new business models, technologies and product development in order to become more eco friendly and universally appealing. The risks and consequences can include the inability to cope and adapt  to what is required of businesses by consumers and goverments. The cost of emmisions trading or failing to comply with financial taxes and regulations. The ethical bases of taxation state that taxes are justified as they fund activities that are neccessary and benificial to society. Public services follow this statement. Additionally progresive taxation can be used to reduce economic inequality in a society. This benifits the majority of the population and social development in most countries. However paying taxes for public services can be very problematic for some as they feel they do not need certain services from this department. Unfortunetly we have no other option and must pay these taxes.

Failure to pay taxes has very serious consequences. You will be required to repay all of your taxes plus interest and penalties. Depending on how old the tax debt is this could double the amount of taxes you owe. The worst case scenario is that you will be prosecuted for tax invasion. There are taxes on everything including luxurious goods such as alcohol and cigarettes. Alcohol is taxed over and over due to its popular demand. For example a bottle of wine priced at €6.oo could get as much as €1.80 VAT. In the 25 member EU 90% of the 15 and 16 year old students have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives, a rate far higher than those in the United States. A report published on November 1 2007 shows that alcohol comsumtion in Ireland has increased by 17% over the last 11 years from 11.5 litres per adult in 1995 to 13.4 litres in 2006 according to the world Health Orginisation. This rise in comsumption has led to increases in alcohol related harm and disease, and has resulted in more than 1775 deaths. This in turn has created escalating pressures on our health and hospital services which all goes back to the public paying taxes for the services. Its one big cycle if you ask me.

 

However putting taxes on plastic bags can be seen benificial to the environment. It was estimated that some 1.2 billion plastic shopping bags were provided free of charge to customers in retail outlets annually before the introduction of the levy. Plastic bags are a very visable component of litter in Ireland throughout our towns, coastlines and in our countrysides. They have a negative impact on our environment and our wildlife and thier habitats. The charge is being introduced to encourage the use of reuseable bags and to change peoples attitudes to litter and pollution in Ireland. This is all I have to say about tax and regulations.

 

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Climate and agriculture in the west of Ireland!

 

The west of Ireland is a peripheral region located on the Atlantic fringe of Ireland. The climate experienced here is cool temperate oceanic. This blog relates back to my previous blog on climate change but with more emphasis on the west of Ireland. Summers are warm with cool winters and abundant rainfall throughout the year. Moisture laden south westerly winds bring a high annual rainfall of 1500 – 2500mm. Alot of the west of Ireland is dominated by mountain ranges, including Nephin Beg Range, Twelve Pins. There are also many rivers and lakes, Lough Corrib and Lough Mask. These rivers and lakes tend to make the land more rich and fertile which is a huge factor to introduce more vegetation throughout the land.

Agriculture, although the dominant land use is hindered by a variety of physical, social and economic factors. The rugged relief, wet, cool and windy weather conditions and peaty soils inhibit commercial agriculture in the west of Ireland. Soil formation is due to a combination of factors such as this which also includes dead organic matter, parent material and time. The most common soil in agriculture in Ireland is brown earth soils. These can be found near deciduous woodlands they contain 25% water, 25% air, 45% mineral particles and 5% humus (dead matter). The biggest disadvantage of farming with soils is a process called Leaching. This is the downward washing of minerals/nutrients through soils making them infertile and almost impossible to practice farming with. This can form a hard pan layer of hardsoil. Thats why climate has such a big influence in the composition of soil in agricuture. Brown earth soils have five main characteristics (1) Texture (2) Humus content (3) pH (4) Structure and (5) Colour.

Farm sizes tend to be small and fragmented with more than 50% of farmers aged over 55 years old. This means that agricultural practices remain old fashioned and in some cases offer very little profit. Also its isolation from the main domestic and overseas markets means that transport costs are high in accessing markets. Grass is the most widely cultivated crop in the region that is harvested as fodder crop for livestock. The region is to wet and has very little sunshine to grow wheat or barley. Livestock raising is the predominant type of farming while dairy farming is mainly confined to the larger farms on the better drained lowlands of the region. Sheep farming is practised on the well drained mountain slopes.

A combination of EU subsides and increased demand led to a doubling of the sheep population between 1980 and 1995 resulting in severe overgrazing (a type of feeding eg sheep feeding on plants). For those who dont know what subsides are they are a form of financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector. In this case its the agricultural sector. An estimated 27% of mountain areas have been degraded by overgrazing.

However its not all that bad for agriculture in the G.D.A (The Grater Dublin Area). The dominant form of agriculture here is arable farming. There are over 1200 farms which produce almost 21% of Irelands wheat crop. Wheat and barley is used for the brewing and distilling industries and some is used for bakeries. Potatoes and fresh vegetables are produced to supply the city markets. Fruit and salad vegetables are grown on small holdings in northern and south Western suburbs of Dublin. More than half of Irelands greenhouses are located in North Co Dublin, in places like Lusk and Rush. This intensive landuse is favoured by light, free draining sandy soils, the forest free nights, with a growing season of almopst 300 days, proximity to a large concentrated market and reputation for quality products.

Rich grassland favours dairy cows and also favours beef production with the emphasis on finishing the cattle which have been raised in the Midlands and the West of Ireland. From all this we can see how climate affects the rate of agriculture in Ireland and how we cope with it.

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Climate Scare!!!

Its definitly not an illusion, results of recent climate changes in the 21st century have shown us time and time again its occuring more frequently, unfortunately its not on our side. Just a quick backround check on the definition of climate change, Climate Change is a long term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time, that range from decades to millions of years. Human activity has a major impact on climate change, however we are not entirely to blame. There are several causes of climate change such as plate tectonics (continental drift), solar output, orbital variations, Volcanism, Ocean variability and most importantly global energy consumption with the reliance on fossil fuels.

There are both economic and environmental consequences for our reliance on fossil fuels. The main environmental impact of our over reliance on fossil fuels is climate change or otherwords known as global warming. Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of earths near surface air and oceans since the mid 20th century and is projected continuation. For more than 200 years the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation has caused the amount of greenhouse gases to increase significantly in our atmosphere. As this concentration of CO2 rises the atmosphere traps more solar energy. This results in our planet heating up. The concentrations of CO2 has risen by 50 parts per million on levels recorded in the 1970s. This rise is due to the increased energy production. eg mass industrialisation. CO2 and carbon monoxide is also produced by burning fossil fuels in cars and other forms of tranport. In the EU 21% of greenhouse gases are produced by transportation, households are responsible for about 16%.

The consequences of this climate change is related to changes in rainfall patterns, increased temperatures and rise in sea level. These effects are already being observed across the planet. The three warmest years on record have all occured since 1998. Southern Europe is gettin warmer, the frequency of heatwaves and forest fires are increasing. In 2005 over 25000 people died across the EU in heatwave conditions. In Africa rainfall in the Sahel region is unpredictable leading to more desertification and increased drought. The Polar regions are warming fastest and the loss of sea ice is already affecting the population of polar bears. Sea levels have risen by about 36 milimeters since 1993 as a result of the melting ice caps. The effects of this will be disasterous especially for low lying coastal areas.

The main economic impacts of using fossil fuels that have to do with climate change are the effects of tourism, farming and oil prices. The specialists in climate change predict that temperatures will rise by 2 degrees if we continue to burn fossil fuels at our current rate. Tourism is being affected in Australia where the warming ocean is damaging the great Barrier Reef. Some predict that the reef could dissapear by 2047 and the loss of income from this major tourist attraction would severely damage the Australian economy. The Maldives where tourism is its major industry there is the fear that rising sea levels could flood the beautiful islands.

 

Aggriculture will also suffer greatly if global warming continues. The economy of Africa, Asia, Southern USA and Europe will suffer as a result of decreased food supplies. As temperature rises and rainfall decreases crop production will be greatly reduced. Millions of people will be at risk of starvation or economic ruin.

Oil prices can rise dramatically due to conflict and natural disasters in oil producing countries. Increases in oil prices will slow down economic growth in many countries. Industries will close and jobs will be lost. All of these impacts, both economic and environmental are caused by the continued use of fossil fuels.

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The Eco Way Of Life!

Have you ever felt like designing your very own eco friendly neighbour hood? Recently the Sustainable Development class took a very interesting tour around Irelands number 1 eco village in Cloughjordan Co Tipperary. The village implies using no more energy than we need to, and using it in such a way as to minimize the environmental impact of meeting our needs.

The eco village aims to provide a healthy, satisfying, and socially rich lifestyle while minimising ecological impacts. An alternative model for sustainable living. The site dominates approximately 67 acres of land which includes beautiful, rich fertile land for vegetation such as various plants and trees which also aim to help promote local food production and biodiversity. Cloughjordan is home to 114 low energy homes and 16 live work units.

Other amenities include a solar and wood powered heating system, 50acres of land for allotment, woodland and farming, a eco hostel for visitors, a nearby train station for accessibility, a centre of education for sustainable living and a streamside walkway to enhance Cloughjordans beauty.

The communities land use plan is based on the priciples of environmental and egological diversity, productive landscape and permaculture. Like I said the ecovillage has 67 acres of land which has three broad users 1. farmland 2. residential and 3. woodland. The main farming practiced is permaculture. Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. It has gone beyond its roots in looking and succeeding in creating new improved strategies to help develop food growth methods. It has become a worldwide movement emcompassing all aspects of how we as human beings can live in harmony with nature and its finite resources. Creating sustainable human habitats by following natures patterns.

Cloughjordan is without doubt very popular for its natural woodland. One third of the village will be devoted to woodland covering 6.1 hectares with more than 17,000 trees. Oak, Ash, Scots pine, birch, cherry, hazel and many more varieties of native species. The land will be fenced to protect young trees from exposure to animals to prevent damage etc.

Ecovillage sites are laid out on an east to west axis to ensure that each house benifits from maximum passive solar heating. Many of the designs reflect this solar advantage by including considerable triple glazed windows with low e aragon filled material facing south. This material acts as a good heat insulator which can allow heat to pass through one side of the window and prevent it escaping again. This is very benificial finacially as it saves heating costs dramatically every year. Its highly recommended. Site holders or often referred to as self builders are taking a strong role in designing and constructing their own homes. Their aim is to create a coherent style of construction in each area. They use different and eco friendly building methods such as passive house timber framing, lime hemp and cob construction. Each member decides on the material composition of the home. More adventurous members are taking a complete hands on approach to building their own homes often working in cooperation with self builders.

The most interesting sites of cloughjordan aim to promote green electricity. The Community heating system all space and hot water are provided by a district heating system, owned and run by the not for profit Cloughjordan ecovillage service company. Powered by 100% renewable energy this system provides all the comfort and convenience of conventional central heating two high efficiency 500kW boilers fired with wood chip. Both sources supply hot water into a 2.2km stretch of distribution pipes to every home.

Solar enegy at 500sqm solar array prevents the boilers from having to operate for small summer time loads keeping their average efficiency high. This is the largest domestic system in Ireland. Cloughjordan is purchasing electricity from a green supplier and to design for the future installation of a high efficiency community generator. All in all the Cloughjordan experience was a great day out!!

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Oil Domination!

This week our heads were tied around the consequences of oil usage, oil peaks and oil production. These issues have a major impact under the energy and population sector. Humanity has bound itself to oil, as production falls and comsumption increases, the bind will tighten. This is very worrying as our economy is entirely over dependant on this non renewable energy source. Financial advisor Eddie Hobbs another avid peak oiler, has echoed his fears. He said ” the world economy is going through boom and bust cycles based on the price of oils”.

Ireland is completely unprepared for the coming crisis of peak oil. Ireland is one of the highest per capita users of oil in the world. Our energy needs burns about 200, 000 barrels of oil a day. Irelands energy strategy is utterly inadequate our vulnerability to peak oil is exacerbated by the fact that we generate half our electricity from natural gas. An offshore gas field is currently being developed off the west coast of Ireland. Serrica energy announced earlier this year that they had found oil in the Slyne basin, but only the criminally optimistic believe that Ireland will become a net energy producer based on these reserves.

 

What matters now is securing energy for future needs, but the picture is grim. Peak oilers believe that the price of oil will remain high and that surges in price will occur due to speculation and shortages. Ominously as global oil demand is set to hit a record high this year according to the International Energy Agency. Peak oilers also believe that each surge will trigger a subsequent deeper economic recession. As oils started to go into decline they had to rely on deep water oil and heavy oil from regions such as Canada and so on, which is more expensive and sky high in pricing. This is also a worrying factor relying on a big increase in oil coming from Canadian oil sands and whole economics of Canadian oil sands is highly suspect. This is an extremely expensive opperation, also in order to get the oil out of the sand you have to heat the sand. In order to heat the sand you have to burn gas and gas prices are directly correlated to oil prices. Peak oil was first proposed by Dr M king Hubbert in 1955. He proposed that oil is produced on a curve. Starting at zero, the sum total of oil producing wells would rise until a peak and then irreversibly decline. Dr Hubbert’s theory was left in the academic wilderness for over a decade.

Meanwhile, oil exploration continued apace peaking in the 1960’s. The worlds most accessible oil wells were tapped, drilled and then the draing began. The world was drag racing down the road to peak oil. Hubberts thesis was dusted off again in 1971, then America hit peak oil. Now the curve for predicting the decline in oil production is known as the Hubbert Curve.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow1w33VAPII&feature=fvw World map of peak oil production from 1065 to 2005.

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