MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library

    A revision of our attitudes towards the natural world is required.

    Sweeney, John (2007) A revision of our attitudes towards the natural world is required. In: The Challenge for Government: Priorities for the next five years. The Liffey Press, Ireland, pp. 212-223. ISBN 978-1-905785-38-4

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    From being a rather abstract academic concept as recently as a decade ago, climate change has now become an issue which has gripped the attention of society and mobilised the energies of the young. For them it has replaced the fear of nuclear conflagration which dominated the issue attention cycle of the last generation. As with all major environmental issues, a schism exists between the idealism of the young and the pragmatism, some would say cynicism, of their elders. In his book Global Wanning: the Complete Briefing, Sir John Houghton (2004) reports on a conversation with a senior administrator in the United States who is reported as saying: "We cannot change our lifestyle because of the possibility of climate change; we just need to fix the biosphere." In some ways, this comment epitomises the conviction of many that we can always repair damage done to the environment by some, as yet to be discovered, technological "fix". Nuclear fusion, deep geological storage of greenhouse gases, the hydrogen cell - all offer panaceas in the long term to the problems we have created in the short term and with some justification. Certainly, human development has historically been characterised by an ability to develop technological solutions to problems as and when needed. Stone tools, iron weapons, the water wheel, the steam engine, medical breakthroughs, transportation innovations, computer technologies - all have provided platforms for addressing and overcoming particular limitations to human achievement and endeavour. For climate change, however, the lesson of history is that the past is not always the key to the future. People were historically prisoners of climate through its life supporting determination of the annual harvest surplus on which economic, cultural and intellectual advancement depended. Today, climate is at the mercy of people and blind faith that a technological solution is just around the corner is not enough on which to base our present social well-being. Strong leadership from those we elect to represent our concerns is of paramount importance.

    Item Type: Book Section
    Keywords: natural world; attitudes; government; government attitudes; governmental attitudes; change; revision; priority; priorities;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 9973
    Depositing User: Prof. John Sweeney
    Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2018 08:25
    Publisher: The Liffey Press
    Refereed: Yes

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