Generational attitudes to climate change


Sir, – The voice of the next generation of adults in Ireland has spoken out in concern for the future.

Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring brought to public awareness the mounting danger of unlimited use of insecticides to the balance of nature. Her work is seen as one of the initiating factors in the growth of the environmental movement. From concerns regarding lethal sprays, to warnings about toxic chemicals being dumped into the atmosphere and the water systems, to the detailed evidence today of human society’s too often negligent behaviour towards the environment, we are now faced with threats not somewhere decades or centuries away but perhaps only years away.

It is now incumbent on leaders in Ireland, and in all nations, to heed the voices of concerned students who will have to deal far longer with the dire results of environment degradation than any member of the world’s adult population. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – In response to the school students’ climate strike, Richard Bruton proposes he has an “all-of-Government plan” to “make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change” (News, March 15th). Yet the current M7 Naas-Newbridge upgrade is an example of the idiocy of current Government practice on this issue.

An additional lane on this principal highway actively promotes even higher carbon emissions and more cars among daily commuters, while providing little choice. Meanwhile, higher fuel carbon taxes are being mooted, without alternative options being presented.

Using the additional lane to develop a fast integrated public transport commuter line involving a light or electric rail, or even a fast bus system which could feed into the Red Cow transport hub, if served by suitable park-and-ride facilities, could allow commuters from Naas, Newbridge and the south and southwest to drop their cars in favour of a fast, efficient, and cleaner alternative transport option which feeds into the Dublin network.

Instead we stubbornly continue to plan to be leaders in promoting climate change and in producing Government hot air, despite the pleas of our children.– Yours, etc,



Sir, – While student marches against climate change are admirable, it is likely that most of those students in Ireland in particular pursue lifestyles that perpetuate climate change. They likely take at least one holiday per year abroad. Their parents likely own multiple cars. They likely use computers manufactured in China. They likely buy all of their food in supermarkets.

As a middle-aged man who has cycled to work all his life and who does not own a car, I reject the proposition that climate change is a problem caused by past generations through some kind of purposeful neglect or lack of action. The issue is far more complex than that – arguably rooted in too many people on this planet trying to simply get on in life, but that being too much of a demand on the planet’s resources.

Accepted, while such an argument cannot be used as an excuse for climate change or justification for future inadequate action – and while there can be no complacency by anyone – a climate change fix will likely demand far more than even the most optimist Irish youth today are willing to commit to. Are they willing to forgo foreign holidays? Are they willing to change the economic paradigm that affords them the standard of living with all its creature comforts they now enjoy? Are they willing to forgo the career opportunities being proposed to them in school that too often place too high a demands on the Earth’s resources? Nobody is immune from the causing of climate change – even the smallest baby in nappies manufactured abroad is a contributor.

While passion, commitment, hope and action are a minimum requirement from all of us to make action against climate change a reality, it is arguably the case that making this a movement of young people only, and setting in motion a superficial blame game of past generations, will only lead to a worsening of climate change. Climate change action cannot afford to become merely another populist social media campaign.

It must surely be conceded, nevertheless, that at least one legitimacy of the student marches of Friday the 15th is that the adults of Ireland must play a stronger role as demanded by these students – not only in climate change action but also in pointing out to them that if they are serious about climate change action, they had better be ready to make major life changes in the future along with their older brethren. Marches on Government won’t fix it. Let’s hope they really mean what they say. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – I have just read Kate Harty’s letter in Monday’s edition. What a wonderful piece of writing; so eloquently written and beautifully phrased. One can only hope that the powers that be are equally moved, as I was, by the dreams and aspirations of this 15-year-old student. Well done, Kate! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – The parents of all the kids who got out and marched should be very proud but now they also need to join with their children in their demands for urgent action. The local and European elections provide us all with a massive opportunity to demand of our candidates that their election will depend on their commitments to action on climate change. A sustainable future is achievable if we listen to our children. – Yours, etc,


Blackrock, Cork.