Planet 'in peril' due to climate change, says Michael D Higgins

The time for debating the science of climate change has long passed, the President said.
Planet 'in peril' due to climate change, says Michael D Higgins

President Michael D Higgins, who said 'climate chaos' is causing social and economic consequences. Picture: Maxwells

The time has long passed for debate on the science of climate change, which is “the greatest contemporary challenge facing us as inhabitants of this planet in peril”, according to President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Higgins, who was speaking at the national conference of Engineers Ireland, called for an end to deflection and stubborn resistance to the science, saying the time for “useless apportionments of blame, or idle comparisons” was over.

Action is now needed, he said.

“Nature has a fine balance, and scientific models are so sophisticated and precise now that this can be shown empirically. 

"Earth’s ecosystem, the composition of the atmosphere, and the world’s weather — our ecological systems — operate in a stable equilibrium or homeostasis.

“An ostensibly small change in just one parameter within this equilibrium, such as that brought about by human-sourced emissions of greenhouse gases, results in weather changes that include increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, with catastrophic impacts on sea-level rises," he said.

The cumulative effect of this is climate chaos with all its social and economic consequences.

According to Engineers Ireland annual report, almost two-thirds of Irish adults, and three-quarters of 16 to 24-year-olds, are interested in finding out about new ideas in science and engineering aimed towards climate change, health, and education.

Its research found that the public, as well as engineers themselves, believes that engineers have an ethical responsibility to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Engineers will be to the forefront in implementing these actions in electricity, enterprise, built environment, transport, agriculture, waste, and more. 

"Meanwhile, driven by the younger generation, public appetite and pressure has continued to grow for action on climate breakdown and biodiversity loss,” the report said.

The president of Engineers Ireland, Maurice Buckley, said: “The delivery of the fruits of science and technology for universal social benefit has formed one of the central themes in the presidency of Michael D Higgins, with the President stressing to us the importance of using scientific insights to address the great challenges facing humanity.”

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