Harsh reality of climate change brought home to Mayo property owners

The recent scenes in Midleton, Co. Cork, have evoked fears and concerns in many communities across Mayo, especially Crossmolina which has a long history of flooding.

Up to 120 properties in the town centre were inundated by flood waters in December 2015, twice in three weeks, in scenes the community do not want repeated.

Yet, nearly nine years on, the proposed Crossmolina Flood Relief Scheme has yet to be put in place despite countless political promises.

While some of the problems encountered in getting the project to construction stage cannot be blamed on politicians, the fact is the delays are simply too long and reflect poorly on a system supposedly designed to address such matters in a relatively swift manner.

Flood events also took place in the town in 1989 and 2006 and one suspects the people of the town watched the images from Midleton with particular dread.

There was also little comfort for them in a study published at the weekend by ICARUS Climate Research Centre in Maynooth University following very detailed analysis of historical observations from weather stations around the country.

The report, led by Professor Conor Murphy, confirmed, if we had not already suspected it, that Ireland is in trouble because climate change is now firmly upon us.

This means a higher level of risk of flooding in our towns and villages - and the sheer misery that it causes for everybody impacted.

It further stated that Ireland is not up to speed when it comes to the engineering and nature-based solutions required to adapt and protect towns and the livelihoods of those residing and running businesses there.

The research examined detailed weather-related measurements from a wide range of land-based weather stations around the country, including Mayo, over the past 150 years.

And the results pointed to a firm link between global temperatures and rainfall in Ireland.

It showed that, specifically, the intensity of rainfall in this country is going up by 8.2% for every one-degree Celsius rise in global surface temperature.

That means that many other towns are facing the threat of serious flooding now and in the future when hit by the same levels of intense rainfall that Co. Cork experienced last week.

That, sadly, is our reality.

As Professor Murphy stated: "These results clearly tell us that adaptation to the impacts of climate change needs to be given greater emphasis in national and local climate policy. Climate change is here.”