COLM O'REGAN: Nearly every Irish budget day has one surprise

THE surprise was that people were surprised. Nearly every Irish budget day has one surprise. One sting in the tale. A surprise they didn’t think people would make a fuss about.

Over the years, the surprises have been things like decentralisation of the civil service, which meant a few hundred people who were paid to play Patience for a decade while their jobs moved to the sticks. Then, there was NAMA, which claims to make a profit, even though it buys houses back from Yanks for three times more than it sold them.

There was the old people’s medical card cut, in 2009, which led to the most quietly threatening mass since the Spanish Inquisition.

This year, the surprise was doing shag-all about climate change. It’s not surprising that they did nothing.

It’s just surprising that a sizable chunk of the population, for the first time, might actually be concerned about it.

Maybe it’s the bittersweet symmetry of it. In the same week that scientists said ‘no, seriously, we’re fecked’, the Government acted like we don’t have a climate, we just get a bit of weather.

You could argue that Irish people think climate change means better weather, so while we’re understandably sympathetic to starving polar bears and island nations disappearing, it is an ill-hurricane that blows nobody any good and it’s great to be able to plan a barbecue more than an hour in advance.

Chances are, though, it won’t work out that way. It’s not called Murphy’s Law because it originated in Azerbaijan.

If we do get climate change, it’ll probably make us so storm-ridden that we’ll get through the alphabet every winter to name them, and will be using nicknames by March. Mark my words, we are only a few decades away from Storms Anto, Beansy, Caz, and Donie P, all the way to Hurricane Walshy.

Of course, you may believe it’s all a hoax, that most scientists in the world are all wrong, or, worse, plotting to take away your 2003 Berlingo van and make you drive something less manly.

But wouldn’t you agree that not being a langer to the planet, if you can help it, is probably a good thing? Wouldn’t you want to use less stuff, anyway?

That’s what we used to do during the ’80s. Wouldn’t you want to find an alternative to finite fossil fuels or to setting fire to the surface of the Midlands?

I always use the Pascal’s wager theory. If climate change is a hoax and we do something, the worst-case scenario is we’re going to feel like eejits. However, if climate change is real and we do nothing, then we die prematurely in a collapsing world. Or, maybe not us, but our children.

And nothing trumps parental worry. For the first time, I am seriously thinking about what kind of arseways planet my daughters and their families are going to be living in.

I’m only half-joking when I wonder if I should be thinking about my toddlers going for planting, grubbing, hunting, salvaging, carving, fighting other tribes at a watering hole on the 2035 CAO form, rather than digital marketing.

Of course, you could argue that some climate change is caused by selfish people in the West having babies in the first place, but, um .. JUST SHUT UP, OK.

If we’re waiting for politics, we could be waiting a long while.

There could be a climate change tsunami hitting one county, while a TD in a neighbouring constituency lobbies the Government, saying “But what about protecting methane-burning jobs for the people of the town”?

But I wonder, is this the year the start of ‘local thinking becoming big-picture thinking’, when some of the grassroots starts worrying about whether there’ll be edible roots in future, when the global climate change becomes a local matter? When the next election is about Nana’s medical card and, oh, yeah, the future of the planet?

More on this topic

Government unlikely to heed sage external adviceGovernment unlikely to heed sage external advice

Fiscal Council warns Government over reliance on corporation taxFiscal Council warns Government over reliance on corporation tax

Government announce unexpected €100m Budget surplusGovernment announce unexpected €100m Budget surplus

ESRI: Budget 2019 will hit lower income homes harderESRI: Budget 2019 will hit lower income homes harder


Lifestyle

Avoid products high in sugar and caffeine, says Helen O’CallaghanEnergy drinks not fit for kids

The staff of Cork Film Festival tell Richard Fitzpatrick about some of their personal recommendations on what to seeInsider tips: Those in the know pick their highlights of the Cork Film Festival

The Cork Film Festival is known for championing short films. We chat to six emerging film-makers who are showing their work over the next few daysCork Film Festival: Short and sweet does the trick

Newsreels from the independence era, and various short films, give a glimpse of earlier eras on Leeside, writes Marjorie BrennanCork Film Festival: Reeling in the years by the Lee

More From The Irish Examiner