The lane into our house was lined with big trees and one night, one of these giants fell right across the lane. The next day my father got some men to help cut down all the trees in the lane, so the path to our house looked like a mouthful of stumpy teeth. When asked, my father said he had eight children going in and out that lane to school every day and he was damned if he’d have a tree fall and kill one of them. He valued his family above any fancy talk about the look of the lane.
There, in a different time and circumstance, you have the fracking issue. Today’s Irish Times reports that Leitrim is one of the poorest counties in Ireland, with just 17% of the population it had in pre-Famine times. Now it emerges that there could be billions of euros worth of extractable gas in the county. The neighbouring county of Fermanagh is in the same position.
What to do?
Those opposed to it say that the fracking process to extract the gas would pollute the water supplies as well as the air, as well as ruining agriculture and tourism in the county. Those in favour say these are hard times, Ireland north and south is up against it and a bonanza like this could be the fast route to new prosperity. Pat Rabbite, the Energy minister says everybody thinks they're an expert. Arlene Foster, the minister in the north, says there's been too much scare-mongering about fracking.
What to do?
In today’s Guardian, it’s reported that Canada has pulled out of the Kyoto protocol, which committed signatories to lower pollution levels. Canada says it’s done so because places like China and India are ignoring it. The truth is, Canada has the third-largest store of oil reserves in the world, but the process of extracting it from the tar sands of Alberta takes an enormous amount of energy and water and plays merry hell with greenhouse gas emissions.
What to do?
From the long-term point of view, playing fast and loose with the environment will damage, perhaps irreparably, the planet we live on. At the same time, if your son or daughter was jobless and faced with the dole or the emigrant airplane, would you still feel so green? Would you sacrifice their future for the possible future of mankind?
I know what my father would have said.