Minister launches series of projects to foster appreciation of the planet


A year-long series of events to promote an appreciation of the planet has been launched by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan.

The environmental projects, which include a television series, public lectures, schools activities and a commemorative postage stamp, are Ireland's contribution to the United Nations International Year of Planet Earth 2008 (IYPE).

Ireland's involvement in IYPE is being managed by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), which aims to promote the contribution of geoscience to society through demonstrating its importance in the study of climate change, mineral and energy resources, groundwater, oceans, deep earth, and hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and floods.

At the launch of IYPE in Dublin last night, Mr Ryan said the series of events would help to raise awareness of earth sciences and their importance in understanding climate change.

"The earth sciences have information that we're not using, but this untapped resource needs to be used by politicians and other decision-makers. We have to use the earth's resources sensibly if we are to protect the future of our planet."

The year was a celebration of geoscience but it would also demonstrate the many economic and social reasons why the earth's resources needed to be used more carefully, Mr Ryan said.

Emeritus professor of natural history at the University of Edinburgh Aubrey Manning, who delivered the inaugural lecture in the series last night, said he hoped the year would encourage the public and decision-makers to take a more considered view of climate change.

"We will be required to change our ideas and we will have to live more sustainably and more conservatively, but I don't think that will affect our happiness at all."

Current population growth was unsustainable, a fact government and economists failed to grasp, he said. "Politicians think a growing population is essential to economic growth. What we need to get people to recognise is that stabilisation and slow reversal of population growth would be best over next 100 years. "

WHAT'S ON: Year of the Planet

Public lecture series: national and international speakers will talk on a range of geoscience issues including climate change, energy and life on earth.

Schools activities: International Year of the Planet events and products will include schools posters, competitions, DVDs, posters, rock sets, A-Z of Geology booklet, Eureka magazine articles.

Exhibitions: The public can learn about Planet Earth by visiting museums, boats and other venues hosting IYPE exhibitions.

TV series: Planet Ireland due for broadcast in September.

Young Scientist: Geological Survey of Ireland will sponsor a special geoscience award in 2009.

Photography competition: with GSI's existing Du Noyer photo competition.

Stamps: An Post to issue two postage stamps for IYPE.