You can take your sun and shove it

4th July 2001

I seem to be the only one in this city that likes the Irish climate. Everyone else hates it. At least, that’s the impression you’d get listening to our broadcasters.

They seem to think that a loathing for the Irish weather is something we all have in common and can be safely trotted out to fill a few seconds ‘til the next ad comes on.

Well not me. I love the Irish weather and I’m not going to be part of any damned consensus. I wrote a column on the theme about a year ago and was met with howls of derision. No matter, I’m going to write a column in praise of the Irish weather every year until I die.

And love of the Irish weather might keep me alive longer to write it.

According to the statistics there are some 8,000 cases of skin cancer in Ireland each year with about 80 fatalities.

It is not clear how many of these are caused by foreign holidays but most are caused by the sun. The medical profession are now so concerned that they issue routine warnings at the start of each summer.

It’s still fashionable to sport a tan but I think the fad is wearing off, so to speak. If people could only see that what they are looking at is damaged skin the beauty paradigm might shift again.

I’m not so naive to think that everyone heads south just for the sun. Indeed, by the sight of a few lads from this office who just returned from Greece there must be a lot of people holidaying in the Med who never see daylight at all.

They get a kick out of reliable weather and being able to stroll around with just a t-shirt on.

Ok. Fair enough. All right, already.

A large part of the attraction is also not having to work. Not having to get up in the morning. Getting langered every night. And the good possibility of getting laid.

But just like every other holiday you’ve been on – it can’t last forever. Part of being a grown-up is realising that fact.

So don’t come back here whinging about how good things are elsewhere and blaming your depression on the Irish weather.

Thinking that sunshine and cloudless skies are where its at is as narrow minded as it gets.

The fact is that in many of these hot climates the people who actually live there spend their summers indoors because the heat is unbearable.

To overcome the heat they install air conditioning. In California the major demand for electricity is actually in the summer months. That’s how much they love their warm climate.

I don’t want to get too elemental and gushy about it but water equals life. Our magnificent environment results from our temperate climate.

Don’t tell me that all that is just for the culchies. Hundreds of thousands of Dubliners love their gardens and get hours of pleasure from them. They are not so far from nature.

And Dublin is full of people who love the outdoors. Hill walkers, sailors, sportsmen and women, cyclists and many, many more take advantage of the Irish climate.

Look at the parks we have. Look that our world famous golf courses. Take a look over the Liffey Valley as you are crossing the West Link. Isn’t it magnificent?

What I’m saying is that most people like the results of our weather. So is it too great a step for people to appreciate, it even as it’s raining?

What I’d like to see is a more mature attitude to the whole business. We need to do with the weather what civil rights activists did for the words ‘black’ and ‘gay’. We need to change the mindset and to sell the weather positively.

I don’t know how commentators imagine we live our lives but we don’t spend everyday sunbathing. So assuming that a rainy day is bad for everyone is just wrong. Why not sell it as useful and concentrate on the people that benefit from it – farmers, gardeners and the like.

So don’t agree to it. Don’t use the ‘bad’ weather as a conversation point. Don’t let people off with bad-mouthing the weather.

The fear of global warming is the fear of climate extremes. We live in the most temperate climate in the world. Why don’t we enjoy it now?

As well as that…

Global warming is a fact

IT’S ALMOST too easy to criticise George Bush over his abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol. It was accompanied by some froth about the need for more research and the possibility that greenhouse gases mightn’t be to blame.

Then the American National Academy of Sciences published near-as-damn-certain evidence that greenhouse gases are to blame after all.

Very embarrassing for poor George. But not embarrassing enough to change his policy.

Ireland too is going to have problems meeting our Kyoto commitments and although the Government published a plan last year, nothing radical has been done.

One of the small measures taken has been to reduce taxes on hybrid powered cars. These are cars that use normal petrol engines on long journeys and switch to electric power in town.

Although it was a minuscule measure it points the way to go. Car ownership levels here are still below other western levels and they are bound to catch up sooner or later.

The Government should try to ensure that as many new cars as possible are powered by electricity. Otherwise we are going to get the warming we don’t want.