On June 21st we are midway through 2020, the year of unprecedented events. 

A global pandemic has radically impacted human behaviour, changing the way we work, how we travel, how we consume and even how we socialise. 

There was another unprecedented event. This year gave us the warmest May on record, EVER. According to the EU climate change monitor, global temperatures were 0.63degrees celcius above average this month. While here in Ireland we experienced the driest May since records began and the driest month ever, for some counties.

Midsummers day June 21st is also International Climate Change Day. Every day needs to be a climate change day. But maybe today we can ask the question: Do we need a similarly radical response to the climate crisis as we have taken to the public health crisis of coronavirus? The threat to life is certainly as real.

If we want to reverse the current trajectory in global emissions, then yes, we do need to make radical changes. The choices our leaders and decision-makers take at this time will shape our future and determine the survival of many species – our own included. 

This week Climate Case Ireland is set to take the Irish Government in front of 7 Supreme Court judges to answer for their lack of action on climate chaos mitigation. 

See www.climatecaseireland.ie for more on this case.

At Cork Nature Network we work towards restoring healthy ecosystems for humans and all species on this island. Sustainable land management practices are essential elements to tackling climate change. We have grassland, hedgerows, forests and woodlands which all sequester or absorb carbon dioxide while providing habitats for diverse wildlife.

Ireland’s wetlands too are hugely biodiverse and play a significant role in regulating the water cycle. Our fens, marshes and bogs are part of our cultural heritage and offer opportunities for education, health, recreation and reconnection to nature. Wetlands support a variety of waterfowl, fish, amphibian, reptile, invertebrates and plant species. 

But did you know that our wetlands also sequester carbon? Drawing it down from the atmosphere through plants and trapping it underground. Peatlands store up to 30% of the world’s soil carbon – that’s three times more than rainforests!

Our bogs and peatlands have an important function in reducing floods. They have the capacity to absorb, hold and slowly release water. As we experience torrential rainfall after a period of extended drought this weekend, our wetlands come into their own, as giant sponges capturing floodwaters and releasing them slowly over time, as they have done for millenia. 

Our wetlands are highly effective carbon sinks that mitigate flooding as well as playing host to a wide and unique range of flora and fauna. Protecting them may be more important now than ever.

We have a total of 756 wetland sites right here in County Cork ranging from areas of raised, upland and lowland blanket bog, fen, swamp, wet woodland, salt marsh, lakes, rivers to coastal saltmarsh and lagoons. (www.wetlandsurveysireland.com) Take a walk in a bog, reconnect with their wilderness and take a moment to appreciate all that our wonderful wetlands do.

Amid all the events of 2020 some of us are naturally experiencing disaster fatigue, but maybe we can take this International Climate Change day as an opportunity to embrace the challenges. What will ultimately define this year in history? Certainly, it will be the year of Covid19 but could 2020 mark the turning point? When us humans take a new trajectory. A new path where we thrive together with nature. The year we find balance. 


Written by Tara O Donoghue

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Caretaker of the Cork Nature Network website