Alarming news have reached Ireland today. The Giant's Causeway, a UN World Heritage Site and Northern Ireland's biggest tourist attraction, could soon be suffering from the effects of Global Warming. According to the National Trust the amazing natural site is threatened by rising water levels and coastal erosion.
A report, compiled by scientist from the Queen's University in Belfast and the University of Ulster, warns that part of the Middle and Little Causeway could be under water for much of the winter by the end of the century. The Grand Causeway could also suffer serious erosion by about 2080, and new approach routes for visitors would probably have to be built.
In the shorter term, predicted stormier weather at the site over the next decade would require greater safety measures to be introduced to stop people falling from the cliff next to the famous octagonal basalt stones.
In the medium term – from 2050 to 2080 – many more of the stones will be under the waves.
But the Giant's Causeway is only one of three National Trust properties in Northern Ireland that are threatened by rising water levels, expected to change by about a metre by the end of the century. Murlough national nature reserve and Strangford Lough, both in County Down, are also at risk from coastal erosion and flooding.
At Strangford Lough, sea levels are predicted to rise by 25cm by 2050 with a "worst case scenario" prediction of a one-metre rise by the turn of the century. The lough, which is internationally important for its birds and other wildlife, is designated a marine nature reserve and a special area of conservation. The greater the sea level rise, the greater the loss of its important tidal mud flats. This would have a significant impact on the availability of food for the tens of thousands of Brent geese and other birds that winter there. As more of the lough's islands disappear under water, there would also be a detrimental impact on the summer breeding of seabirds, including terns, ringed plovers and cormorants, and the population of seals.
The Murlough reserve could see 50-400 metres of the existing dune frontage eroded away, together with a serious loss of vegetation.
The report also highlights general climate changes to be expected in Ireland. Within the next fifty years we will experience warmer annual temperatures, wetter winters and drier summers, and increased frequency of extreme storm surges and extreme waves. By the year 2100 the sea levels on Ireland's coasts will also have risen by an estimated 85 to 100 centimetres, compared with the current levels.
Many years ago, when the first warnings of Global Warming appeared in scientific studies, hardly anyone took notice of them. No one in Ireland thought then that it could effect us. But after decades of ignorance the planet's ecological clock is now ticking faster. The rising sea levels are not only a threat to the existence of many island nations in the Pacific (such as Tuvalu), they will change every coastline on Earth and the lives of millions of people (including the Irish).
The world's big polluting nations and their industries, and especially the USA, have wasted decades that could have been used to reduce the carbon output and slow down Global Warming. Instead they have been burning fossil fuels without any thoughts of the future and the rest of us. Now we all have to face the consequences and pay the price. Thank you, Mr. Bush!
The Emerald Islander (looking for his Wellington boots)