How does it affect me?

Global Impact

Climate change threatens our very existence on the planet and so is the greatest challenge facing humanity. Significant reductions in GHG emissions are necessary if the full impact of climate change is to be avoided. If average temperatures rise too high, then the following effects will be seen:

  • Many areas, such as deltas, low lying islands and coasts, will be flooded due to rising sea levels
  • Productive land will be turned to desert
  • Water supplies from glaciers and snow melt will disappear for billions of people
  • Weather conditions will become increasingly extreme
  • Habitats will be lost and endangered species will become extinct

Globally, we are already witnessing a steady rise in average temperatures both on land and sea. We can also measure the retreat of glaciers and the incremental increases in sea levels. There are many other indicators of climate change:

  • Rising sea levels due to loss of Arctic land-based ice
  • Changes to wildlife migratory patterns
  • Increasingly intensive storms
  • Acidification of the oceans
  • Damage to coral reefs across the world

The combined effect of all these factors will have a negative global impact. Poorer, developing nations will be greatly affected as they do not have the resources or funding to put proper procedures in place to protect against climate changes. Climbing global temperatures are likely to damage agriculture by lowering soil quality. Water sources will also be polluted and the already vulnerable infrastructures in these countries will be further weakened.

Irish Impact

Irish weather conditions have undergone significant changes in recent years. The steady rise in temperature is evident in the graph below, illustrated by the red line. In fact, the average temperature has increased by 0.7 ēC during the period 1890-2013 and according to the most recent study, Ireland's Climate: The Road Ahead (2013), a further increase in mean temperature of around 1.5 ēC above the 1981-2010 mean is anticipated by mid-century.

There is also a general trend of significant increase of rainfall in Ireland along the north and west coasts, and only slight increases along the east and south coasts. In some cases, there has even been a decrease in rainfall. Increased rainfall may result in more seasonal flooding. Some areas have already been experiencing damage from flooding e.g. Clonmel, Co. Tipperary has suffered from periodic extreme flooding since 2000.

Rising sea levels are also of concern for Ireland, as waters have been rising by 2 - 4mm each year. If this trend continues, the sea level will have risen to 0.2 - 0.4m by the end of this century. Approximately 60% of the population are living within 10km of the coast. Areas of soft coastline, especially in the east, are under severe threat from erosion and flooding.

These changes, bringing the milder winters and warmer summers we have been experiencing in recent years, may be appreciated, but the impact in some parts of the world has been much more devastating. If climate change continues at such a high rate, Ireland is likely to be affected by the following:

  • Air temperature will rise by 1.5-2 degrees by 2080
  • Rainfall will increase in winter and decrease in summer
  • Sea temperatures may rise by 2 degrees by the end of the century, causing intense, aggressive storms
  • Flooding and erosion from extreme weather conditions
  • Altered agricultural practices, especially crop growing, to cope with weather changes

These projections are affected by uncertainties, as we cannot predict the future. It is therefore important that adaptation decisions emphasise robust adaptation and resilience, so systems can cope with potential shocks. 


Climate Change Video

Climate Change Video

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