During my first 2 pregnancies I had lots of seizures. I spent most of ’92 to ’94 on the couch for safety and a lot of time in the Coombe hospital often via ambulance. It was around this time I watched lots of television which enlightened me about the state of our planet. I became very diligent about recycling.
Life in suburbia was perfect. A 3 bedroom semi detached home, 2 little girls, 2 incomes, 1 or 2 sun holidays a year, 3 miles from the city centre and our families within walking distance or a bus ride away. Cycling or walking to work was regular exercise. Life was absolutely perfect and I LOVED my sun holidays!!
One day in 2002 I returned home from work with a shiny see-through, purple A4 plastic folder explaining how the company moving to Loughlinstown was a brilliant idea. It contained brochures about the hospital, new homes, schools, things to do etc etc. The managing director had called us all into the beautiful glass atrium and broken the news with massive fanfare and smiles all round. I had all day to think about it. I couldn’t move or commute to Loughlinstown! I’d have to give up my job. As if the day couldn’t get any worse I got home to a big brown envelope in the post full of legal paperwork. When I eventually deciphered what it said I realised it was an order inviting me to court to agree the terms of terminating my marriage. 2 wonderful packets for bedtime reading. I was devastated.
Within 5 years I was remarried, had 2 more children and moved out to Kildare. I did miss Dublin. I missed my family and friends. I missed working. I missed Dublin Bus! I missed cycling on roads where the traffic never went faster than 50kph. I decided to learn to drive the day I ran up the hill at the back of my house, pushing a buggy while pregnant only to see the once an hour (if you’re lucky!) bus drive by the bus stop despite there being someone clearly waiting. My suburbia had just moved further from Dublin city and I adapted. All was well.
Around 2006 I watched something about climate change. I remember feeling really really bad and very upset about the state of the world we were passing on to our children. I reckon I was traumatised by the scale of the consequences of climate change and global warming. Yet nobody was talking about it. By chance an article in the Sunday Times magazine reported on the Transition Towns movement and that was me on the road to climate action. My recycling and cloth nappies just weren’t enough. I wanted to wake the world up as everyone I knew was still sleepwalking through this massive damage we were causing. Surely they’d want to know.
We moved house for a bigger garden in Laois. The following February my youngest was born. The polytunnel was put up in March and our first harvest was short lived when my second husbands brain tumour was discovered in September. Another massive blow to life plans.
Now I live on the Wild Atlantic Way with my 3 youngest. My attempts at growing our own veg have ceased as the advocacy work is essential until we hit a tipping point and climate action is well under way. Then I will be able to grow some food and relax. A far cry from my 3 bed semi in suburbia with my much loved sun holidays.
The climate has changed at an accelerated rate that species have not evolved with. We have caused the warming that has changed the climate so rapidly. My sun holidays. My car. My food choices. My clothes. My data use. My heating etc etc. Humans have done this but there is only so much we as individuals can do to reverse it. Sure we can and must cut down on our energy usage but we also need to make our government change how it is generated. We can cut down on our travel but we need to force government to introduce zero emissions, affordable public transport. I say “force” and “make” because the lobby for no change is strong, powerful and wealthy. We need to be determined and persistent when we demand change. We need the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly implemented!
Through my policy work and activism I know that those driving the damage are protected by policies. Revered because they provide employment, at all costs. The people in government advocating and protecting them have not really grasped the consequences of their actions or climate change, or they would not be doing it. I see this in the civil service and with politicians all the time. They are also human. They are me back in 1998 – living the dream, incapable of thinking outisde of that.
As Greta Thunberg said – it is time to act is if your house is on fire. It is. However this house can not be rebuilt – we must stop it now. There is no planet B. The youth are rising and they are right to. They have to. Change is long overdue. Their lives depend on it. They depend on us being brave enough to change. It is possible so let’s do it.
March 18th 2019