My Journey with ATCC


Just over 7 years ago I wrote 2 articles on preparing your home and community for a crisis. The thought process behind the articles was pretty grim and not one for social conversation at that time yet it was where my mind had been for the previous 5 years. I had been considering how climate change would impact our lives. Not something you bring up at coffee break, back then anyway.

I was invited to speak in Dublin with a group that had evolved considering climate change. It was so refreshing to walk into a room of people who did not ignore, dismiss or argue the gravity of our situation. We debated the finer points, like how much longer do you think we have left, but in the main we all agreed that humanity is it’s own worst enemy and capitalism has everyone so enslaved there is no return. I went back every month after that to the safe place where I could be authentic in my bleak outlook. Every month would be more proof that humanity hadn’t grasped the gravity of the situation and was walking blindfold towards the edge of a cliff.

We were all engaged in climate awareness at some level so it wasn’t as if we were all sitting back watching the climate crisis unfold. If anything it provided us an opportunity to share our frustration of waking the rest of Ireland up. We were there as individuals who came from a variety of backgrounds such as academia, journalism, business, medical, government, NGOs, politics and community. 

I was living a lie – bringing up 5 children, preparing them for life knowing that their lives would be completely different to the expectations of society’s trajectory based on infinite growth. I was meeting a group of guys every month to talk doom which allowed me function normally for the rest of the time. Funnily enough women didn’t last long when they joined – perhaps the reality was too difficult to accept. Maybe discussing it made it too real. Too depressing. 

At some point we decided to establish a group to take on the climate denial and lack of action across government, the media and general public. We knew we would have to be the dissenting voice as the politicians were so caught up in populism and industries caught up in self preservation. We accepted that if we lost our jobs so be it. Anyone who could not afford to let that happen stepped back. We accepted that if we lost friends so be it. Is someone who doesn’t want to hear the truth really a friend? The collapse of civilisation as we knew it was too big an issue to not give our all. We just had to find an umbrella organisation in which to do our work. An Taisce answered that call. We soon became know as An Taisce Climate Committee or ATCC. 

That was 5 years ago. To say I am proud of what we have achieved in that time would be an understatement. Some of our founding members have gone on to academia to bolster the climate argument. New members joined, well known in the climate field. In recent years we have had interns who have come back as members. Much to my delight we have young people including young women. It has become obvious that climate breakdown is very much on the minds of the up and coming generations. 

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get watching RTE weather discuss climate change during your Christmas break in Dublin with celebratory texting and tweeting knowing you had played a part in that shift. Knowing you had made a difference. To watch a Primetime host come out and state that they know climate change is happening and that their debate is going to be about what we need to do. To take a stand when the media continuously gives a platform to inaction and denial.  To engage in policy and decision making knowing that you are coming from a place of authenticity and sheer desperation to get the country to take climate change as the serious issue that it is. To acknowledge that it requires a response like that of a world war. 

We are now faced with a diminishing 12 year window to prevent the worst, irreversible consequences of climate change. It is a massive challenge. I just hope people realise that those of us who have been in this arena are sincere in our proposals for what we need to do. We have been in this space and had time to think it through for many years. We have seen politicians and industry desperately believing industry led “solutions” as they hang on to the hope that the changes would be easy. We appreciate the enormity of the task. We need to act and we need to act fast, collaboratively. We need to be brave and bold enough to act adequately. We need more like ATCC.

Theresa O’Donohoe

April 2019

The articles were for FEASTA the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability and can be found linked above or on their website.

Published by Theresa OD

Change maker and mother of 5 living in the west of Ireland

12 thoughts on “My Journey with ATCC

  1. Well written. Of course it is now too late to put the genie back into the bottle. But we can avert the type of catastrophe that would lead to a breakdown in the functioning of society, I hope.
    It will mean sacrifice, will need concerted government action, and will demand thoughtful policies.
    Thanks for writing this.

  2. Very well written and glad you were part of it at the beginning . It’s hopefully not too late but massive change is needed and next steps will be extremely important for us all .

    1. Thanks Joanne. I was far from the beginning though. There have been people fighting the fossil fuel industry led system for decades. Let’s hope we win 🙂 T

  3. The problem is: we have already released so much CO2 into the atmosphere, that run away climate change is now un stoppable. If we cut emissions, we lose the global dimming effect, and the planet heats up faster. The only actions that can now be taken are to reduce suffering as humans go extinct. In the short term, that means making Ireland food secure by cutting back animal agriculture and growing sufficient crops, fruit and vegetables to substitute the imports that wont be available as extreme weather events reduce crops worldwide. Food rationing will be essential to ensure everyone gets a fair share of diminishing resources. Move people from areas liable to flood. Strengthen essential infrastructure to withstand more extreme weather. Have local medical and emergency services available for when teansport to larger centres is not available. Stop work on long term infrastrcture and put that money into providing homes for homeless people, and developing emergency accommodation for those whose homes will be damaged by future severe weather, fires and floods. There are not 12 years left. The IPCC report greatly under reported the seriousness of the situation, did not take into account the methane now being emitted from the shallow Artic seas and melting permafrost around the Artic circle. With the level of denial, misinformation and dumbing down of climate change, it is going to be very difficult to alert those in power to the seriousness of the situation and the necessity to take urgent action.
    Please see this blog for worldwide news coverage of climate and economic news:
    See The End Of Ice by Dahr Jamail on YouTube
    Near Term Human Extinction Evidence Group on Facebook.
    Thank you for raising this subject. The time is short and urgent action is needed now

  4. Well done on all your activism. I was recently in communication with some individuals who believe man’s impact on climate change is all a conspiracy to make us pay more tax. It was a fascinating discussion. I didn’t try to convince them otherwise, i just sought to understand their point of view. It would appear that there are a group of citizen who distrust anything that they can’t witness with their own eyes. Any idea how we tackle this for problems that aren’t immediately visible?

    1. I find it gas that years ago it was those waning about climate change that were labelled the conspiracy theorists and now when we have eventually gotten through people claim the people we’ve been trying to make take action are manipulating them. Have they no understanding of the amount of energy that went in to waking them up?!?!
      I don’t bother with them. Once there’s a tipping point in consciences and action it doesn’t matter. As Greta Thunberg says the greater your platform the greater your responsibility. These people have an ever dwindling platform as more and more examples of severe disruption occur.
      Onwards 🙂

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