More trees, more wealth

More trees, more wealth

More trees, more wealth

tall buildings behind large park
alex mulhare

25th August 2021

 

Wealthy suburbs can be identified by the amount of tree coverage in the area. 

 

The School of Geography at University College Dublin published an extensive report in 2017 that verified this statement’s accuracy. This study found that in comparison to North American and European cities, Dublin falls into the category of cities with the lowest tree coverage at 10 per cent. 

 

Paris, France has a similar level of tree canopy coverage, with 10.8 per cent of the city shaded by greenery.

 

However, these figures are dwarfed by North American cities. 50-53 per cent of Atlanta, Georgia is shaded by tree coverage, along with 54.64 per cent of Sacramento, California. 

 

Although Dublin City recorded 10 per cent tree canopy coverage, there exists a disparity between the number of trees in north Dublin versus south Dublin. Fingal County Council recorded 9.80 per cent canopy cover across its constituency, while the figure for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council was 16.38 per cent. 

 

This disparity suggests that a greater number of trees and greenery are planted in areas populated by larger, more expensive homes beyond the city centre.

 

“Participation and inclusion are key to fostering a sense of ownership and pride in public space.”

“Responsibility for the installation and maintenance of public space trees rests with the council, but this should not preclude the public from engaging and participating in what is planted and where,” said Barry Lupton of Horticulture Connected in a statement to STAND News. “Participation and inclusion are key to fostering a sense of ownership and pride in public space.”

 

The financial divide between north and south Dublin was evident even before national house price inflation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2018, a year after the publication of UCD’s tree coverage report, the average house in south Dublin was worth €459,229, with north Dublin homes recording an average value of €343,177. 

 

“Local Property Tax should be part of the contribution for tree planting,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor for Kimmage-Rathmines, Deirdre Conroy. She noted that she does not “understand why Dublin City Council have never planted trees in particular areas, such as Crumlin’s large green spaces.”

 

The shade cover provided by leafy trees during the summer months can quite literally prove to be the difference between life and death on a hot day. This becomes an especially grave concept when rising global temperatures and the increasing frequency of Irish summer heatwaves are considered. With fewer trees planted in inner-city and less wealthy urban areas, their residents may feel the impacts of climate change and hotter summers more strongly than those in suburban areas. This trend has also been observed within the United States, with less wealthy people disproportionately affected by a lack of leafy shade coverage.  

 

According to American Forests, a nonprofit organisation and creator of the Tree Equity Score map, “tree cover in almost any American city is also a map of income… lower-income neighbourhoods usually don’t have as many trees.” Inevitably, this means that residents in lower-income areas are more likely to fall victim to heat-related illness during high temperatures. 

 

Research has revealed that the heatwave mortality risk increases 2.49 per cent for every 0.6 degree Celsius increase in heatwave intensity. The mortality rate then increased by 0.38 per cent for every one-day increase in heatwave duration. 

 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations also argues that if trees are strategically planted in urban areas, they can cool the air by 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. This would reduce the need for air-conditioning units in warmer climates by 30 per cent and reduce energy consumption in the area. 

 

Alwyn White of Greenleaf Ireland spoke to STAND News, saying that “Success is not really about [the] quantity of trees planted. If a lot of tree planting fails or has to be removed before they mature, then the return on investment is never realised. Planning and investment in getting the correct structure for the trees to develop within is essential to get good long-term outcomes where the trees can thrive and people and property are protected from root heave damage.”

 

Ultimately, trees improve the quality of life in any given location, and the unequal access to tree coverage around the globe appears to be indicative of a greater social divide. 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Stephen Leonardi

This article was supported by: STAND Programme Coordinator Aimee + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Data centres struggle to balance foreign investment and climate action

Data centres struggle to balance foreign investment and climate action

Data centres struggle to balance foreign investment and climate action

data centre cables
alex mulhare

12th August 2021

 

Data centres may restrict Ireland from reaching its long-term climate change goals.

 

Currently, there are 70 data centres around Ireland, making it the data centre capital of Europe.

 

54 of these data centres are located across County Dublin, with 10 more under construction as of 2021.

 

Planning permission has also been granted for a further 31 data centres in the coming years.

 

In the last year alone, ten new data centres came online in Ireland. As a result, data centres represented 1.85 per cent of Ireland’s total carbon emissions during the same period.

 

€7.13 billion was invested in constructing Irish data centres during the last decade. A further €7 billion is estimated to be spent on data centre construction within the next five years.

 

Operating 24 hours per day, data centres consume a vast amount of electricity.

 

“Data centres are part of the core infrastructure of the digital economy by enabling data storage, including e-payments, secure transactions, banking, streaming, video, and outbound IP traffic, and disaster recovery services,” said Neasa Hourigan, a Green Party TD (Teachta Dála) for Dublin Central, in a statement to STAND News. “They have become increasingly important in the context of remote working during the pandemic and also support high-quality jobs.”

 

Ireland’s data centres (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, among other multinational companies) consume 900 megawatts (MW) of energy. To put this amount of energy into perspective, one wind turbine will typically produce 2 to 3 MW.

 

In 2020, data centres occupied 11 per cent of the country’s total energy demand.”

EirGrid, an electric power operator that is committed to producing renewable electricity in Ireland, has predicted that data centre capacity could account for 29 per cent of the country’s total electricity demand by 2028. In 2020, data centres occupied 11 per cent of the country’s total energy demand.

 

The EirGrid Generation Capacity Statement 2019-2028 suggests that an energy deficit could occur by 2025 due to Ireland’s data centre electricity requirements.

 

The concentration of data centre construction around Dublin puts the capital and its surrounding areas at heightened risk of suffering the consequences of an energy deficit. 

 

“I do not believe it is sustainable, or that it is possible to make it sustainable,” said Bríd Smith, a People Before Profit TD for Dublin South-Central, during a Dáil Éireann debate on 10 March 2021. “If we take the climate crisis seriously, we will not go down this road. It is not in our interest to gobble up renewable energy and water on this scale. Ireland bends over backwards to facilitate foreign direct investment.”

 

Responding to these comments, Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, said, “Offshore wind has the potential for us to go even further, such as an additional 30 gigawatts (GW). That is the scale. It is almost nine times what we are using at present in terms of scale. There will be opportunities in this country whereby, if we locate [data centres] correctly and have the grid correctly connected to them, we will be able to run data centres efficiently with low carbon.”

 

Under the Climate Bill set out by Government in 2021, Ireland has committed to reducing its emissions by 51 per cent over the period to 2030. 

 

This plan also provided the legislation for Ireland to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, meaning that the amount of emissions released into and removed from the environment must be equal.  

 

Water conservation is also an emerging area of concern as data centres must use a significant amount of water in their cooling systems.

 

The average data centre consumes approximately 500,000 litres of water per day, according to figures gathered by the Sunday Business Post.

 

With climate change causing Ireland’s temperatures to rise, as seen with the recent heatwave, Irish Water is coming under pressure to take action. 

 

In warmer climate conditions, data centres can require up to 5 million litres of water per day. 

 

The July heatwave resulted in domestic Irish Water customers being advised against excessive water usage but it is unclear whether the same warning, if any, was issued to data centres.

 

Ireland is expected to host a further €4.5 billion worth of data centre construction by 2025. 

 

 

 

Featured photo by Thomas Jensen

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Climate change is a racial justice issue

Climate change is a racial justice issue

Climate change is a racial justice issue

first nations women protesting
Kate Bisogno

6th August 2021

 

What is environmental racism? The term, first coined in 1982 by US civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, can be defined as ‘‘racial discrimination in environmental policy-making, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of colour for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of colour from leadership of the ecology movements”.

 

The birth of the environmental justice movement took place in the 1980s in the US, as reports and findings came out that indicated that communities of colour are disproportionately affected by health hazards through policies and practices that essentially force them to live closer to toxic waste sites and pollutants. 

 

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which began in 2014, is a clear example of ongoing environmental racism in the US. In a cost-saving move, the city’s water supply was switched from Detroit’s system to the Flint River. As a direct result of inadequate treatment and lack of water testing, residents of Flint were burdened with a series of major health and water quality issues, including foul-smelling and discoloured water, causing skin rashes, itchy skin, and hair loss.

 

Complaints by residents were continuously ignored by government officials and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission concluded that such a poor governmental response to this crisis was clearly due to systemic racism. 

 

While there are unfortunately many examples of environmental racism and discrimination in the US, it is clear that climate injustice is a global problem.  

 

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate highlighted in a now-viral Twitter video that she could for the first time in her life understand ‘‘the definition of the word racism,’’ after she was cut out of an image with four other climate activists by US news agency Associated Press in early 2020. The image also included young activists Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Isabelle Axelsson and Luisa Neubauer, with Vanessa being the only one removed from the picture.

 

‘‘We don’t deserve this. Africa is the least emitter of carbons, but we are the most affected by the climate crisis. You erasing our voices won’t change anything. You erasing our stories won’t change anything,’’ she also said in the emotional Twitter video accusing the media of blatant racism.

 

“Climate justice recognises that the people who suffer the worst environmental consequences are often the ones least responsible for climate change.”

It was also discovered by Twitter users that some media outlets had actually misidentified Vanessa Nakate as Zambian activist Natasha Mwansa.

 

Many fellow activists and supporters came to Vanessa Nakate’s defence, highlighting the urgent need to address issues of climate injustice and the importance of opening up a conversation on racism and lack of representation within environmental movements themselves.

 

Climate justice recognises that the people who suffer the worst environmental consequences are often the ones least responsible for climate change.

 

As a result, not only is climate change a racial justice issue, it is also a socioeconomic issue as well. Youth Work Ireland’s Climate Injustice Report 2020 found that “71 per cent of landfill sites and waste incinerators in the country are located in areas that are below the national average of deprivation, as indicated by the Pobal HP Deprivation Index.’’

 

Former President of Ireland and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, established her eponymous foundation – Climate Justice, which is a platform for solidarity, education and advocacy on the urgent need to secure justice around the world for the poor and marginalized people vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

 

Mary Robinson also currently holds the position of Chair of The Elders, which is a non-governmental organization of public figures, brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela. The Elders promote climate justice and the need to eliminate discrimination and encourage diversity within environmental spaces. 

 

One such blog post on The Elders’ website includes Colombian-American climate activist Jamie Margolin, in which she outlines how ‘‘the fight for climate justice and the fight for social justice are inseparable.’’

 

Jamie highlights that as a white Latina, she is someone with privilege within the climate movement and she calls on the climate community as a whole to support the Black Lives Matter movement. She points out that while the climate itself isn’t racist, the systems that caused this climate crisis are. Therefore, it is the responsibility of particularly those in the environmental movement who are not black, to use their privilege to support and stand up for racial justice on a global scale. 

 

As Jamie Margolin puts it, ‘‘if you care about climate justice, you have to care about racial justice too.’’

 

 

 

Featured photo by Pascal Bernardon

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

two elephants at sunset
anastasiya stand news

16th July 2021

 

Ah the circus, a place for fun and games, where bears wear cute tutus and tigers jump through hoops, the smell of popcorn filling your nostrils and the stickiness of candy floss on your fingers. It brings us all back to our childhood filled with laughter and clowns, complete ignorance of what happens behind the scenes and the question of how wild animals become showmen. The truth is, most circus animals are treated poorly; beaten, starved, and kidnapped. They sit in tiny cages travelling from place to place for our entertainment. Have we ever thought about what the once big and mighty beasts feel when they are dressed in silly costumes and forced to perform tricks that are dangerous and downright unnecessary? They do not perform because they enjoy it, it’s because they are forced to. Why can’t they just stop and not perform then? That is a very simple answer, they are afraid. Afraid of what will happen if they do not perform.

 

Animals are trained and punished with whips, muzzles, tight collars, electric prods and metal rods. There are multiple videos and photographs showing animals being beaten and abused in cruel ways. Those fake smiles and cheers from the circus trainers and handlers are all for show, to trick you into thinking that the animals enjoy performing and that they are loved. Tigers and lions have a natural fear of fire, but due to the desires of their circus trainers, they are forced to jump through hoops which have resulted in many animals being injured. These mind tricks are precautions circus trainers take in order to avoid being reported, since the only real way a circus can get punished for mistreating their animals is by being reported by the public, and governments do not monitor what happens behind closed curtains.

 

Circus animals often have a lot of pent up anger and frustration from years of abuse. There have been multiple cases worldwide were circus animals have escaped and attacked people and their surroundings. The animals that go crazy are not sedated and given care, instead, they are killed.”

While travelling the circus, owners often keep animals in trailers or trucks. Big cats are crammed into tiny, dirty cages and elephants are chained down. Circuses travel all year round in various weather conditions meaning the animals are often exposed to the elements, forced to suffer through hours and days of travel without getting the chance to move around. Circus animals often have a lot of pent up anger and frustration from years of abuse. There have been multiple cases worldwide were circus animals have escaped and attacked people and their surroundings. The animals that go crazy are not sedated and given care, instead, they are killed. For example, take the 2014 Moolah Shrine Circus show in Missouri. During the performance, three elephants escaped from their handlers in the children area after being put under stress from the noise. They were loose for 45 minutes which resulted in multiple damaged vehicles. This was not the first time an elephant got loose, and it wouldn’t be the last.

 

Thankfully there have been circus bans in place in multiple cities and countries around the world which restrict the use of animals for entertainment. The Animal Welfare Act states that circus animals have the right to be protected and treated humanely, so circuses that disobey this act and mistreat their animals are breaking the law. Most circus cases focus on elephants, however, all animals should be protected from harsh treatment. The training of elephants begins when they are babies, they have all four of their legs chained up for 23 hours a day and while chained they are beaten and choked with electric rods to break their spirit. Most wounds are covered with make-up or blamed on the clumsiness of the animal.

 

An investigation by the Animal Defenders International found that dancing bears spend around 90% of their time inside a cage. ADI had also published a video showing a bear circling around a tiny steel cage measuring about 3½ feet wide and 8ft high, demonstrating the surreal life conditions these animals have to endure for our entertainment. It has been reported by the United States Animal Welfare, that most major circuses which used animals had been cited for violating the minimal standards of care set out by them. It has been documented that since 1990, 123 attacks on humans were made by large captive cats in the US, 13 of which were fatal.

 

There are three countries in the world that led the movement of banning the use of animals in circuses, the first being Bolivia, followed by China and Greece. The UK has banned the use of “wild” animals and the United States are currently fighting to ban the use of exotic animals. Ireland has banned the use of wild animals as of 2018 making it the 42nd state globally to do so. We can confront the use of animals in circuses by boycotting those circuses and supporting animal-free circuses like Cirque Du Soleil and Cirque Dreams, as well as the first ever circus using holographic animals, Roncalli, in Germany.

 

 

Featured photo by Mylon Ollila

This article was supported by: STAND Environment Editor Anastasiya + Programme Assistant Alex

 

Interview with Sustainable Radio

Interview with Sustainable Radio

Interview with Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM 93.9)

OutSTANDing Stories Episode 2

Laura Kelly – Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM)

14th July 2021

 

 

Listen to our interview with Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio on the following platforms:

Spotify

SoundCloud

In this episode Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio (Dublin South FM 93.9) interviews two guests. The first is Ken from the source bulk foods in Rathmines. They talk about how buying in bulk will become the new norm, if the EU is doing enough to ensure we have a plastic-free future and their global donation of 45,000 to Support Shepard’s. Then, Laura interviews our Marketing Coordinator, Madeline, to discuss our organisation and our campaigns. We talk about the pressure young people have to be the catalyst of climate action, the #ConsciousConsumption campaign and how we can get involved to bring about change.

 
 
 
You can learn more about the Dublin South FM here.
To take the pledge and read up about our #ConsciousConsumption campaign visit 10000students.ie

 

 

 

This podcast was hosted by Laura Kelly from Sustainable Radio