The weather has been touch-and-go so far, but there’s no denying that summer is here, and frankly it couldn’t have come at a better time. Just a month ago we were emerging back into the light both metaphorically and literally. Now Covid is receding into the past, and it’s still light enough to work in the garden at 8pm. Happy days. I can’t pinpoint when it happened, but it happened. One week I was still feeling uncomfortable in a crowd and the next I was sharing a jacuzzi with three other people and having the chats.
It’s so good to find myself basking in the comfort of living in West Cork again, though it sometimes makes me feel guilty to be so blessed, with all the terrible news coming at us every day from other parts of the world. War and heatwaves. Shortages and school shootings. Not to mention the housing crisis and the rise in the cost of living closer to home. My way to deal with the guilt is to try and truly appreciate what we have; to feel grateful instead of guilty. That means getting out there and appreciating what is on my doorstep. Summer is West Cork at its best and I promise to try and make the most of it in 2022.
I’m not advocating turning my back on the world. Just looking a little closer to home and taking action where I can instead of despairing about events that I can do nothing about. That means not only appreciating the now but planning for what’s to come. We’ve got a good thing going here in West Cork and we need to get together and ensure that we are prepared for the future. Our communities are strong and willing, and I have no doubts that we have the talent, the resources, and the skills we need to ensure that West Cork continues to thrive.
Let’s face it, the outlook is grim. The effects of climate change are accelerating faster than had been predicted. Brexit and the war in Ukraine has shown us just how dependant we are on imports for both food and energy. Compared to the situation in other parts of the world, we will not be hit as hard, nor as soon. However, we will suffer the repercussions of climate change conflict and strife, though they may be far away.
This may sound a bit doom and gloom – especially for a column that started out so jolly. It isn’t. It’s about cherishing what we have, thanking our lucky stars and taking measures now to prepare. Securing our future means thinking about security. Energy security. Food security, and infrastructure security from extreme weather.
One very inspiring project is the Clonakilty Chamber going ahead with an ambitious plan to create a solar farm on a 26-acre site in Shannonvale. Its 22,000 solar panels will provide power to 1,500 homes and will be connected to the grid. Imagine if all small towns and villages had a similar commitment to stop using fossil fuels and generate their own energy. The area I live in has about 500 inhabitants and tens of thousands of acres of land. Could we set up a local energy-generating project? I think it’s worth looking at. Imagine that our communities were no longer dependant on fossil fuels? Same goes for food security. Imagine that we grew the food we need locally. Doesn’t that sound excellent? As for security from extreme weather events, we need to take a good and hard look at our coastline, our roads, and our buildings; compare them to the predictions of sea level rise, and extreme storms and plan accordingly. It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s the basic plot of the fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs.
Another good idea is the Sustainable Energy Authority Initiative grant scheme. I’ve started looking into it for our house and I must admit I got a thrill when the salesperson I was talking to asked me if I just wanted to heat the water, or whether I wanted to future-proof my home. Future proof? Yes, please. That sounds like a splendid idea.
Even with the grants, it’s still a costly project that demands a lot of planning. I recently inherited a bit of money, and I can’t think of a better investment than to future-proof my house. Watch this space for updates and in the meantime – have a look at your own house, village, and community. It’s time to get cracking…