Climate change is caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide and other polluting greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. The gases form a blanket around the earth that traps heat, in the same way a greenhouse does.
Human activity, particularly in rich countries like Ireland, is raising the levels of these gases so high that they are changing the global climate. This leads to more extreme weather events, including floods, tornados and drought. Ireland is being affected too, but the effects of climate change are hardest on the lives and livelihoods of the poorest communities in the poorest countries. For example, among rich countries, Ireland is the sixth most generous overseas aid donor per person, but we are the fifth most climate polluting country per person. Ireland emitted 100 times as much carbon in 2003 as people in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. It is these developing countries who have done the least to cause climate change that are being being hit first and hardest by its impacts and are least able to absorb the impacts.
We still have time to stop runaway climate change having catastrophic consequences. By making changes to the way we live and by getting our communities and governments to take action, we can all contribute to fighting climate change.
Irish people (57%) are less likely than the European average (68%) to see climate change as a very serious problem a special Eurobarometer survey shows.
The poll, carried out in June 2011, also found that concern about climate change among the Irish public has remained unchanged since 2009, although it has increased on a Europe-wide basis. Furthermore for Irish respondents the economic situation remains a greater worry than climate change although the reverse is true for the EU as a whole.
NYCI is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos campaign, a coalition of more than 20 environmental, youth and development organisations, that aims to mobilise public support throughout Ireland to drive political action to meet the global challenge of climate change.
Begin by raising awareness in your youth group about climate change. Visit www.stopclimatechaos.ie to find out how you can participate in national actions to fight climate change. Organise an exhibition or information evening in a local community space to raise public awareness about the issue.
Dates for Your Diary
22 April – Earth Day
5 June – World Environment Day
8 December – Global Day of Action on Climate Change