More factors

Invasive species are species which are introduced to a habitat and, having no predators, spread quickly, often pushing out existing species. Examples of this in Ireland are Zebra Mussels, Grey Squirrels and Japanese Knotweed. The red squirrel is disappearing by 1% every year from Ireland. It is our native squirrel, but the introduction of the grey squirrel has meant increased competition for food (for example, grey squirrels eat nuts before they are fully ripe, while the red do not). The grey squirrel is spreading across the country, in the long term threatening the red squirrel with extinction in Ireland.


River

Agriculture remains an integral part of life in Ireland, and 63 percent of the land is farmed. The EPA’s Millennium Report said the amount of artificial fertilizers used in Ireland increased significantly during the twenty years up to 1980. There is a concern that pollution levels of the inland waters will increase substantially in the next few years if the problem is not stemmed soon. Water quality surveys prove that the quality of the inland waters has decreased since they were first assessed in the 1970s. Fish begin to die because there is a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. One of the worst cases of fish kills recently occurred in a stream that feeds into the Shannon River in County Offaly in June 2000, which had a dead fish count of 2,000.

Courtesy of Betsey Hickey
River
Courtesy of Betsey Hickey

River

Agriculture remains an integral part of life in Ireland, and 63 percent of the land is farmed. The EPA’s Millennium Report said the amount of artificial fertilizers used in Ireland increased significantly during the twenty years up to 1980. There is a concern that pollution levels of the inland waters will increase substantially in the next few years if the problem is not stemmed soon. Water quality surveys prove that the quality of the inland waters has decreased since they were first assessed in the 1970s. Fish begin to die because there is a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. One of the worst cases of fish kills recently occurred in a stream that feeds into the Shannon River in County Offaly in June 2000, which had a dead fish count of 2,000.

Courtesy of Betsey Hickey
Enlarge image

Pollution and nutrient loading: The growing productivity of agriculture can be attributed to a number of factors, including the availability and use of fertilizers on a commercial scale. However, nitrogen and phosphorus from those fertilizers are now causing environmental concerns. Fish kills in rivers have occurred in Ireland when oxygen is reduced due to chemicals, particularly fertilisers, running off land into rivers and lakes.


Climate Change is being accelerated due to:

  • CO2 emissions from traffic
  • Emissions from cement manufacture
  • Deforestation
  • Large power plants that use fossil fuels
  • Intensive livestock rearing

It could lead to widespread flooding, stormy weather and less land for crops. In addition, the types of crops grown could change due to climate change. Land may become too boggy for potatoes, with maize gradually replacing it.

Climate change can potentially have a very negative effect on us. Higher temperatures may seem like a good thing but they have bad effects on our crops and livestock. Other impacts of climate change include extreme and unpredictable weather events and higher sea level. Some places will have more positive than negative changes, but overall effects are estimated to be highly negative and will impact on us socially, economically and environmentally.

In Ireland, mayflower was spotted flowering in a field in County Sligo in December.  It is projected that Ireland’s winters will become warmer and wetter. By 2050, the temperature in January will have increased by 1.5 o C .  Ireland’s summers will be warmer and drier – by 2050 the average July temperature could increase by 2.5o C compared to the 1981-2010 averages. Increasing global temperatures could trigger tipping points such as large scale changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation which could completely alter Ireland's climate. 


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