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What do they know that we don’t? July 17, 2006

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Ireland, Irish Politics, Uncategorized.

For those of us with a gloomy turn of mind the latest minutes of the Commission of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) give a certain pause for thought (If your browser doesn’t open PDFs automatically perhaps best not to click here).

After the usual house-keeping minutia they take a somewhat unexpected turn of direction. Note item 4:

4. Emergency Accommodation Plan for Sittings of the Houses of the Oireachtas
The Commission had before it a report [6-2-06] recommending Dublin Castle as the preferred location for the recovery of accommodation and services of the Houses in the event of one or more of the plenary and Committee Chambers becoming unavailable, due to fire, flooding, severe weather damage or any other reason.
The Commission approved the recommendation.

Now, I live in an area of Dublin subject to at least one of the above so perhaps I’m more than usually sensitive to such things, but for any of us who have driven or cycled up Kildare Street past the Dáil it’s evident that it’s built on a rising incline (or side of a hill if one prefers).

So I’m wondering just what sort of report the Commission received and what sort of conditions it expects from ‘severe weather damage’ to ‘any other reason’.

Global warming? The melting of the icecaps? Superstorms? Cometary impacts?

Still, beyond the comic or ironic potential of this subject, it’s interesting that such contingencies are being seriously planned for. Is it sufficient? One doesn’t have to think too long to conjure up any number of difficult scenarios that might effectively knock out the ability of government to administer on this island temporarily or permanently. From biological and radiological threats to earthquake generated tsunami we are vulnerable to a broad range of technological and natural catastrophic events. In terms of probability some are unlikely, others are likely and others are…overdue. Of course for many at the more disturbing end of the scale should they happen they would apply on a global basis, I’m thinking in particular of large scale impacts by meteors, but others could be quite localised, say for example an earthquake generated tsunami on the east or west coasts. For a bigger version of same consider for a moment the potential of the volcano in the Canaries which some say if it blows we can expect a mega-tsunami racing up and across the Atlantic, although not everyone buys into that…[catastrophe postponed]

In the past we didn’t have the knowledge of our vulnerability, nor the resources to do very much about it – and on the latter point to some degree we still don’t. Large scale catastrophic events tend to require a sort of triage where small groups are protected and – as with the iodine tablets issued some years ago – the majority must take their chances. So on one level it’s heartening that the Commission is taking this issue seriously, and on another it points up just how little can be done.

But I’d still like to know what the Commission has heard that we haven’t…


1. The Cedar Lounge Revolution » Blog Archive » No greater joy in heaven than when a sinner repenteth… - July 21, 2006

[…] Shermer isn’t hugely confident about the future. He notes that global temperatures are likely, even in the event of reduced emission, to rise by up to 9 degrees by 2100 – a scenario that could result in the demise of the Greenland ice sheet and the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now if that happens we’re in for a really rough ride and perhaps the Dáil Commission will be proven correct [here], because likely sea level rises would be up to 10 metres. […]


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