Letter to a country newspaper

I sent this letter recently to a newspaper in Ireland, the local newspaper of the area where I grew up, and guess what – they published it! So, to celebrate, let’s have a look at the statistics:

Over 20 years I have sent 5 letters to this local newspaper and they have published…5 of them. Which is about100%, if I am not mistaken.

Hmm…does this mean that my writing talents are unparalleled and that I am a genius? Or does it mean that this particular country newspaper (The Kerryman) is guaranteed to print anything so long as the writer has used capital letters and most of the words are spelt properly?

Maybe, but published is published and here follows the letter for your perusal. It refers to a propsed development in the area where my parents live, an example of idiotic planning in a country where anything is still possible, as long as enough money changes hands:


A few years ago, a wind farm was proposed for the Shannon land bank. This proposal – clean energy generated from unused land – was beaten down with the help of some concerned citizens in Tarbert. They gave many reasons in their little leaflet – a strange concern for the local birds, among others – but hidden away on the bottom of the last page was their real concern: the effect of a wind farm on their property prices. The wind farm was bad, you see, because it would affect the personal economies of these concerned citizens. Forget the pollution pouring from the 2 fossil-fuel burning power stations in the region, forget Ireland’s addiction to fossil fuel, forget the disastrous global heating now in effect and our obligations under the Kyoto treaty – if something affects property process, then it simply has to go.

And now these same people are wildly applauding the latest development on the land bank – a liquefied natural gas (LNG) depot. From what I can gather from the sparse information given out to the locals, natural gas will be imported in a compressed, chilled and liquid state and stored in great tanks. From here it will be pumped into the natural gas grid, via a new extension line of 25Km. The project is quoted as giving Ireland “considerable economic benefits” as natural gas is a cleaner fuel that both oil and coal.

It may have escaped everybody’s attention than natural gas is also a fossil fuel. Although the supplies are not currently as tight as oil, natural gas supplies will also peak globally and start to decline, leading to an increase in the price. This peak is estimated to happen about 2030 and world supplies will be exhausted sometime before the end of this century. And when it’s gone, it’s gone for good. The document released in May 2006 by Shannon LNG states that this new depot will “help secure Ireland’s long-term supply of natural gas.” It probably will, but 20 or 30 years is a very strange definition of “long-term”.

Natural gas is without a doubt a better fossil fuel than oil or coal, but a fossil fuel it is, and bringing it halfway around the world on great big boats does not change that. It is hard to understand why the west coast of Ireland is not being exploited for its wind, wave and tidal power, and why the unused agricultural lands are not being used to produce ethanol. As can be seen from the IPCC report on climate change released this month, a serious shift away from fossil fuel addiction is required if we are to avoid global disaster.

Global warming is not just a theory any more – the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas is sending the world under at an increasing rate. We need to reduce our consumption, produce our own fuels, make our own energy, and stop thinking with our pockets instead of out heads. And if we have to see our property prices slide in order to preserve our world in a state that will allow our children and grandchildren to live on it, then that’s what we’ll have to do.

/ paddy


4 thoughts on “Letter to a country newspaper

  1. Hear Hear!
    I, for one, would love to see more wind turbines dotted around the place – perhaps one of the changes we have to make in moving towards a more carbon-aware cociety is an acceptance that it may involve some changes in the landscape we’ve grown used to.

    Next time you’re home, go and visit the wind farm in Beale, it’s quite something to stand right under the huge rotating blades.

  2. Men Paddy, jag har ju redan sagt att du är ett geni. Du är värd mer utrymme än ett “letter” vart fjärde år i the Kerryman (även om jag med stor förtjusning läser den varje vecka). Vad har t ex John Waters som du inte har förutom nyliberalismen och att han haft sex med Sinead O´Connor. Samt skrivit Irlands bidrag till årets melodifestival – men vad säger att du inte skulle kunna göra det vilket år som helst!

  3. Hess Corporation and the Irish government policy on LNG is not explainable in human or environmental terms.

    The intention of our website http://www.safetybeforelng.ie is to leave a permanent dossier on the stupidity of the decision to build the LNG terminal in environmentally-protected waters so that when the backwardness of the decision is proved down the line – we can prove that we said no.

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