Climate Change Deniers And Sceptics In Ireland

There are very few mainstream politicians in Ireland who question the reality of man-made climate change or its disastrous consequences for the global environment. Aside from some troglodytes in the Democratic Unionist Party, when one thinks of elected “climate change deniers” in this country the person who most readily springs to mind is Danny Healy-Rae, the opinionated publican-turned-TD from Kerry. His 2016 observation that, “God above is in charge of the weather and we here can’t do anything about it” has given him a prominent place in a list of names normally reserved for more conservative members of the Republican Party in the United States of America.

However the maverick deputy is not alone in his science-scepticism. Michael Fitzmaurice, a founding TD with the Independent Alliance, has previously dismissed the issue of climate change and related matters as a “Houdini act. So it is somewhat dismaying to see the Journal.ie giving the Roscommon–South Leitrim deputy a platform to launch a contentious attack on public investment in green energy sources, including wind farms. Especially when the online news website fails to point out that Fitzmaurice runs an agricultural and turf contracting business and is the chair of the controversial Turf Cutters and Contractors Association. As John Gibbons wrote for the Irish Times in 2009:

Ireland doesn’t have any significant coal deposits to burn. What we have instead are some of the world’s most important bogs. Peatlands comprise almost a fifth of Ireland’s land cover, and lock away a massive 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon. They are also home to around half our endangered bird species and around a quarter of endangered plant species. Peat bogs are amazingly efficient carbon sponges. A healthy bog typically stores 10 times more carbon per hectare than any other system, including forests. Peatland protection, according to the UN Environment Programme is “among the most cost-effective options for mitigating climate change”. Damage to peat bogs is now producing the equivalent of over a tenth of total global fossil-fuel emissions

Since then a small but influential coterie of individuals and businesses have repeatedly lobbied for the right to profit from the destruction of our island nation’s almost unique ecological heritage.

What makes Michael Fitzmaurice’s article even more tendentious is his reported presence at a secretive June 1st meeting of the Irish Climate Science Forum, a pseudo-scientific sceptic group formed last May. The gathering in Dublin was addressed by William Happer, a retired atomic physicist with close ties to various conspiracy theorist groupings in the United States, including “chemtrail” obsessives and HIV-deniers. An article by DeSomg UK states that:

Happer delivered his behind-closed-door presentation in an upmarket Dublin hotel to a hand-picked audience, numbering around 40-50, which included a number of senior staff from Met Éireann, Ireland’s national meteorological service.

His presentation, which DeSmog has seen, was titled: ‘Irish Agriculture – A New Look at the Influences of Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Carbon Dioxide’.

One audience member attending Happer’s talk was rural TD (member of parliament), industrial turf cutter and noted climate denier, Michael Fitzmaurice. In a surreal moment, he asked Happer for advice on how to defeat the arguments of people “who claim that climate change is real”.

Group organiser, Jim O’Brien, an engineer, refused to answer any questions from DeSmog UK and barred our reporter from attending. DeSmog UK also contacted Happer directly by email with a series of questions, but at time of going to press, he had not responded.

The inaugural meeting of the fringe group in May witnessed a lecture by Richard Lindzen, a retired American professor associated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a British climate denial group, and the Koch-founded Cato Institute, a right-libertarian think tank in the US.

While Michael Fitzmaurice is perfectly entitled to question the allocation of public monies to green technologies and the benefits to be derived from it, indeed that is his job as a Teachta Dála, his minority opinions on the broader subject of global warming and environmental protection should also be known. It is one thing to hold a point of view on any given matter, quite another to deride settled science.

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4 comments

  1. From the DeSmog article: ‘The presumed reason the ICSF invited Happer to present is to provide ammunition to downplay the role of agricultural emissions by inferring that methane is largely irrelevant to climate change. This is the key message the founder of the ISCF, Ray Bates, a retired meteorologist who is an active lobbyist to exempt Ireland’s GHG-intensive beef and dairy sectors from the impact of climate regulations. Ireland’s agricultural emissions are by far the highest per capita in the EU, with the government committed to backing the politically powerful farm lobby expanding both forms of ruminant agriculture despite the climate implications.’

    Indeed, wind energy can be at best only a marginal (and very expensive, not to mention land-intensive and destroying the odd peat bog (releasing all that captured carbon) contributor to electricity supply, because it is diffuse, intermittent and highly variable. And because it requires natural gas plants to run less efficiently, its ability reduce emissions is minuscule.

    At least, the disbelievers of greenhouse gas science are consistent. How many supporters of industrial-scale wind energy are also working to reduce animal agriculture?

  2. The environmental reasons behind the push to reduce farm ruminant numbers I question. Looking at intensive beef production, barley beef, USA feed lot production systems where there is no bedding for the animals and the animals are eating a protein source humans can eat, then yes methane will be significant. Anaerobic break down will produce methane. Contrast that with grass fattened animals that consume stuff we cannot eat (grass). When fat and go for slaughter they leave behind an elevated organic matter (carbon) content in the soil a soil now more resilient to heavy rain and drought. Supplying proper bedding gives aerobic breakdown, no methane and a valuable fertiliser/soil improver at turnout. In our winters approximately 10tons per cow.

  3. The irony in all this being that there still hasn’t been any actual hard proof that man-made climate change has/is happening.
    Computer models are not proof, Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” graph is utterly fictional.
    The predictions have been all over the place and not conclusive.
    Of course the climate is changing, it is change. It’s the most dynamic system on the planet.
    Of course we should pollute less and care more for the planet.
    Carbon is not a pollutant though, and the the number one “greenhouse gas” is actually H2O.
    It is toxins in the environment we need to pay more attention to (‘cides, metals etc).
    And the “cowspiracy” propaganda only confuses people, instead read Meat by Simon Fairlie (and The Land magazine).

  4. Climate Change is just another scaremongering media driven hoax which is intended to justify increasing taxation. The poor bankers need the money and they have to create a pretext for their bought politicians to give them more money. That is the essenential nature of the of Global Warming fraud.

    BTW, Irelands’ carbon dioxide emission level should have calculated on equivalent area of Europe, say Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and a bit of Germany combined. For an underdeveloped country, such as Ireland, it is madness and political incompetence to agree to reduce Irelands’ emissions of CO2 to below the level of 1990. This is an effective repudiation of any real job creation policies or of ending emigration by the Freestates main political parties.

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