Forty Shades of Green or a Handful of Greys?
By Ineke Scholte
In my home country of Ireland, known for its forty shades of green, a shadow is looming—reducing the vibrant greens to dull greys. As we seek to feed our rising hunger for energy, we risk watching familiar fields and pastures transform into lifeless, industrial gas pads.
Since “The Quiet Man” was shot in colour in Ireland in 1952, tourists have flocked to our country to marvel at its greenness. Bed and breakfasts opened all over the island to give these visitors a rich cultural experience and thousands of welcomes, feeding them local food from grassy pastures.
But Ireland will change beyond recognition if we do not free it from the shadow that is now being cast by the oil and gas industry. Ireland’s green pastures are being compromised. It’s up to us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be talked into fracking through the false promises of new jobs and a quick buck to alleviate our budget deficit.
Ireland has been lured into a property boom that is already turning much of the landscape to grey, leaving us financially devastated and vulnerable. The new lure of fracking will turn even more green into grey and will, like the property boom, eventually fade away as the gas reserves prove too limited to feed our endless greed for energy. It’s hard to imagine what Ireland will look like after the gas boom, but one lesson we have already learned: booms go bust and leave devastation.
What is truly limitless are our great green resources, and it is up to us whether we want to put these at stake for a short-term energy solution. It is greed that will make us black and white, and the forty greens of Ireland will exist only in a distant film of the past. We might bring them quietly back to memory by watching John Ford’s movie on our large plasma screens, powered by electricity generated from shale gas, thinking, “That’s how Ireland once looked—something has gone terribly wrong.”
The Irish people love their green country and heritage, and resistance is rising to fight this fracking doom scenario. Groups and networks have popped up all over the island of Ireland to successfully ’fight the frack’. The decision to issue exploration licenses in the Republic of Ireland has been postponed until 2015, as Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd confirmed in March: “[N]o decision will be made on these applications until there has been time to consider the outcome of further research to be commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the use of this technology.”
In Northern Ireland, Agricultural Minister Michelle O’Neill has outlined her intention to block any plans for fracking on land owned by her department. She stated last month that she is both “personally and politically” concerned about fracking, claiming that its potential impact on the environment would force her to stop any planning applications for the process to be carried out on her department’s land.
On October 19, people concerned about the effects of fracking in Ireland will attend events around the country for the Global Frackdown to call for a ban on fracking on the island of Ireland. With combined efforts, we can keep this country as green as John Ford’s camera saw it.
Ineke Scholte has been involved in the anti-fracking campaign from its conception in spring, 2011.
She set up the website Fracking Free Ireland and issues the Fracking Matters Newsletter on a weekly basis. Her aim is to maintain an information platform, to inform and to connect people nationally and internationally.