Archive | March, 2012

Week 7

22 Mar

What are Ireland’s prospects going into the future in terms of general standards of living and economic growth? From the past weeks lectures, not so prosperous! We talked about how sustainable development will certainly reduce economic growth. Given the condition of the public and state finances at this moment, it’s not looking too good at all for Ireland Inc. Despite all these negatives the Irish economy is still managing growth, even if it’s just modest growth. However, Ireland is far from reaching its targets set out in the Kyoto protocol. In fact Ireland has one of the worst records when it comes to cutting carbon emissions. It’s very likely that we will miss our carbon reduction target for the period 2013 to 2020. I’m sure if we had implemented the changes we were due to; we would be in as bad a position as we’re in now. If this is the case, we will have to fork out 500 million on carbon credits every year.

However, we can’t keep buying carbon credits forever. We’re falling behind in the sustainable energy research and development industry. We need to get serious on the matter of sustainable development and to stop putting it on the long finger. However, this issue receives little coverage because of the financial meltdown and the corruptness of the banks and some members of the last government. I don’t agree with the carbon credit scheme either. If a country like Ireland, who makes no effort at all to reduce carbon output, can just buy carbon credits are we really moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels? If harsh sanctions were in place both companies and countries would be forced to rely on green electricity more and this area would see much more investment. But, this is a long way from happening because the world leaders are reluctant in implementing the Kyoto agreement. The USA should be a world leader in this field and giving an example, but it didn’t even ratify the Kyoto protocol and has been very uncooperative up to date. Unless we can get The US to get more involved, the process of moving from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources will be a long one.

We discussed during the week that developing countries are acting as pollution havens for some large companies. These countries have caused little of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere of today and believe they should have the right to develop as the developed world did. However, with severe weather effects of global warming affecting these countries also, they will have no choice but to live more sustainable. The first world should also pay grants to the third world so they could begin to develop more sustainably.

Week 6 Blog

12 Mar

Before this week’s lectures, I thought sustainable development was about delivering a sustainable replacement for oil and other fossil fuels so that we could reduce the rate of global warming and deter the associated dangers. That is until I learned about the amount of energy used to produce food, damage done to the land by the usage of GM technology.  The world’s population is expected to reach almost 10 billion by 2050. To cater for this rise, either more land has to be used for agriculture or we have to get a lot more efficient in how we do things. Also vast amounts of land will have to be used for biofuel plantations and I believe a lot more trees must be planted to act as a filter for the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Can this increase in land usage, along with a large increase in population actually be feasible? Theoretically, we could but a lot of energy and money will have to be invested and we still may not see the expected outputs.

I was surprised to see how much energy is required to produce food. From fuel usage to buildings and irrigation so much energy is used. Although this energy usage is necessary, I believe there’s always room for improvement and we could surely reduce this energy usage. I’ve learned that the developed world ecological footprint is much higher that it’s bio capacity; this is especially so in North America. We have to start living more sustainable and to begin to produce more locally.

This week we also visited the eco village in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary. I was interested in the design and how eco-friendly each house was. I intend to take the management stream next year so it was especially relevant. The designs of the houses are certainly the houses of the future. One resident told us that it costs him 18 euro a month to heat his house. Another resident’s house was so well insulated that it didn’t have a heating system; it retains even one’s own body heat which I thought was very impressive. But, we found out to build a eco-house in Cloughjordan is expensive. For projects like this to become more wide scale the cost has to be significantly reduced. One thing I noticed was that all the houses had vastly different designs. In my opinion, this type of project could be a lot more viable if only one house design was used; maybe like a typical modern estate, except with the design features of the houses in the eco-village. I was also impressed by their district heating system and how efficient it is. I believe this type of system should be used in every village, town and city in Ireland.

Since the EU have a strong environmentally based ethos and have a mention of environmental impact in every law they now make, I believe that it would be appropriate for them to introduce  standards to be set in all newly built houses. A certain amount of public spending should be allocated to make these houses less expensive.  However, I don’t believe that this kind of law will be enforced for quite a while. And that is for 2 main reasons; that we only have passed peak oil and we have half of the oil left on this planet and simply the cost of such a project in these difficult economic times.

Week 5: Energy

10 Mar

During this week’s lectures we discussed peak oil in debt. I didn’t really understand what peak oil was beforehand. Of course I heard the phrase mentioned several times in the media. I thought peak oil meant that oil supplies were running dangerously low. In fact it means that we’ve only used up half the oil available in the world. Maybe this is the reason why many countries put renewable energy development on the long finger.

With the demand for oil ever increasing and production decreasing, the value of oil has skyrocketed which effects our economy disastrously. This, of course, is on top of the financial meltdown we have to endure, which means that quick recovery is made even more difficult. The developing world has vastly increasing its consumption of oil in the last 20 years.  Countries such as China and India are booming and it will be very difficult to convince them to develop more green economies, when it was mainly the first world that has caused most of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

The following pie chart shows the reliance of oil, coal and natural gas of the world’s economy.

In my opinion, we need to change from using these fossil fuels to  much more renewable  energy sources. And the sooner we begin this change the better. All our economic and social systems are based on oil and fossil fuels. We need oil for everything, weather it’s the food we buy in the supermarket or the clothes we wear, oil plays a vital part in it’s production and transportation. It’s going to be a difficult transformation but a vital one. The current path is simple unsustainable. The process of change is going to be very long and expensive and should be taken more seriously by many countries who are currently reckless in their energy usage.

We also discussed the positives and negatives of fracking in Leitrim. I’m think we should continue with the project. Although we should be trying to get away from fossil fuels and moving towards a greener society, the economic benefit will out weight the negatives I believe. It will create jobs in a time where it seems every second young person is emigrating. Also the financial benefit could be invested in renewable energy projects and research.

Sustainable development project

2 Mar

Sustainable development project 1