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St. Patrick's Day Report: Ireland's Green Landscape At Risk

March 14, 2008

BOSTON, MA – As people across Massachusetts prepare to celebrate Irish heritage on Saint Patrick's Day Monday, a new report says the green of Ireland could be in danger. The Irish-American Climate Project report says signs of global warming are apparent on the Emerald Isle, with average temperatures rising by 1.4 degrees in the past century.

According to report co-author Kevin Sweeney, Ireland's green scenery could soon be mixed with brown as the climate changes and rainfall swings from droughts to violent downpours. Sweeney says the report shouldn't put a damper on holiday celebrations, but it's something to think about after the parades end and the pubs clear out.

"We also want people, when the parties are over, to realize that there's more to being committed to Ireland than just celebrating on St. Patrick's Day. If you care about Ireland's green, if you want to help it stay green, then the job becomes 'How do we change our energy policies?', 'How do we change our relationship to carbon?'"

Here in Massachusetts, Ben Wright with Environment Massachusetts says Bay State residents have a role in preventing global warming just like everyone else -- and so do their legislators.

"Changing your light bulbs and making sure your home is using energy and heat as efficiently as possible are great. But we really need economy-wide legislation to make sure that our entire society is moving toward cleaner energy sources."

Sweeney's report on Ireland also warns of more bog bursts, leaving scenes that look like California mudslides, and tougher potato farming caused by longer summer droughts. Although he doesn't think Ireland will suffer the worst consequences of global warming, he says problems that accumulate will be heartbreaking.

Kevin Clay/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - MA