Irish Gross Domestic Product is on the Rise

It is certainly well documented that one of Ireland’s biggest problems and one which largely caused it’s economic troubles was the bursting of a huge, unsustainable property bubble.   The country has been in recession ever since, so any news of growth in any sector is bound to be reason for some optimism.

For those who reason that any recovery should be well balanced and across all sectors however there is still cause for concern.  For example much of the rise seems to be linked with a growth in construction spending up a massive 15% this year.  Obviously this is from a small base but it’s still a huge rise in a single year for an economy still technically in recession.

For example lets look at some other sectors, ones which we at for example think should be important sectors in the majority of recovering economies.  Sectors like agriculture, forestry and fishing are not the big, boom sectors of many economies but they are often the most sustainable and provide many, many jobs.  These areas in Ireland fell by around 3%, if you look at other key economic sectors like distribution and transport a similar story – with falls of around 2%.

There’s no doubt that things are improving in Ireland, for example they were able to exit the bailout put in place some three years ago.  They met all the economic conditions put in place by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  Unemployment although still very high has fallen about 2.5% over the last year too and has a strong downward trend which the Government is hoping to continue and accelerate.

The media is also positive, if you watch the BBC you can see many positive stories being led which is in stark contrast to the economic jokes that were streamed some years ago.  Incidentally – this link will allow you to access the BBC’s broadcasts online if you are in Ireland.

The worry is still there, though is the sector that caused Ireland’s economic woe’s really the sector that should be pulling it back from the mire.  Sure construction and property is a vast lucrative market but look what happened last time!

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Fall in the Artic Sea Ice Levels

The amount of sea ice has fallen considerably in the Artic over the last few year.  Even if we look back at the end of March, there seemed to be somewhat of a recovery  in volume.  In fact the levels were beginning to show an unlikely return to the average levels (over period 1978 -2012), and a ten year high.

However this seems to be something of a false dawn, as at the end of August we saw some reports from the National Snow and Ice Data centre which suggested all was not well.  Their report showed that the extent of the ice was approximately 1.5 million square miles which is actually the lowest level ever.  The previous low was recorded during the Summer months of 1979 but it should be pointed out that the data being analysed was only available since 1979.


It was most  unusual because the minimum ice count is normally recorded in the months of September/October – it will be interesting to see if further levels are recorded.  Unfortunately because of the small samples of data it is difficult to see how significant these falls are.  There’s also a lot of confusion about how much the decline is down to a natural cycle and factors such as weather conditions, ocean currents and cycles.  Many of course believe that a lot is down to man made factors and global warming due to the greenhouse effect.

The ice is also important to our environment, it reflects solar radiation back into outer space.  If this does not happen then the sea does become warmer and the cycle of ice falls will accelerate even faster.  There is also the worry that the ice traps lots of gas like methane under the sea bed, this if released could also speed up the global warming effect.

If you want to keep up with all the latest developments and information about global warming, it’s best to do so from a non-bias and independent source like the BBC.  There is lots of information on their web site including the excellent Bite Size series which is a great introduction for kids.  For adults there are lots of programmes on the BBC Iplayer which explore both sides of the argument from the Newsnight, Horizon and Natural History departments.  If you have difficulty accessing the BBC Iplayer due to being outside the UK try this site –  It contains links and information about how you change your IP address to make it look lke you’re in the UK, very useful information.

Was the Superstorm Caused by Us ?

It’s fairly well agreed that the increase in the sea levels is caused at least partly by global warming.  This would certainly worsen effects of storms like Sandy – primarily due to the increased effects of the Storm surge which coastal communities dread so much.

But there is no definitive answer to whether climate change including the falling levels of Artic sea ice have any direct influence on either the intensity or direction of a Superstorm like Sandy.  Although there is much disagreement between scientists one point is   not in dispute, that the increased risks of these storm surges need thinking about.  The economic impact alone means that some serious decisions need to be taken for the long term and short term periods.

For example in New York, they’re going to need to repair the flooded subways pretty quickly.  However a long term view needs to be taken and one the most obvious is building a huge multi billion dollar flood barrier to protect the Lower side of Manhattan from the levels of storm surge that are now possible.

There are  other areas in the US that perhaps might simply just need abandoning.  Protecting from these storm surges is extrmely expensive and there are areas which it is simply not possible.  But we need to adapt and recognise that there is a change in our climate and that extreme weather events are going to become much more common.

If there is one good thing about Sandy then hopefully – the environmental issues will be moved up the Presidential election ladder.  There is no denying that our cimate is changing and these events have a huge impact on society and the economy.   The clean up from Sandy is very likely to be in tens of billions of dollars.

If you want to read about the various issues that are facing the planet and it’s environment then check out the new Horizon and Natural History shows on the BBC.  If you can’t access the BBC IPlayer application then check this post out , it has all the information you need to change your IP address to a UK one and bypass the filters.

There are other options for accessing these websites which are particularly useful if you’re interested in environmental news sites from across the globe,  one of the newest is called Smart DNS which is a sophisticated DNS service which can allow you