Beyond the Obvious: novel podcasts for enquirers

We’re very pleased to launch our new podcast series, Beyond the Obvious, which is co-organised by Feasta and the European Health Futures Forum.

The hosts, Seán O’Conláin and Caroline Whyte, will explore a range of topics with guests from a wide variety of backgrounds. There will be six monthly podcasts of 20-25 minutes, beginning on March 15th 2019. Please feel free to comment below.

Seán Ó Conláin

Topics include:

• decarbonisation
• decreasing energy consumption
• measuring wellbeing
• reviving biodiversity, which is taken to include local culture and language
• drivers of health
• monetary reform

Our thanks to Laoise Kelly who gave us permission to use her harp music. The piece is ‘Lon dubh’ (Blackbird) from her Album ‘Ceis’.

Podcast 1: Climate obligations – our children are wakening

March 15 2019

We hear from two 11-year-olds, Eve O’Connor and Beth Malone, who are involved in the schools climate strikes movement, and from Professor Barry Mc Mullin, who takes us through the pros and cons of the possibilities for decarbonising Ireland’s energy supply: nuclear; fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage; BioEnergy; wind; renewable energy with electrofuel; and reducing consumption, particularly by high emitters. This last option, which is supported by Feasta’s climate group members, forms a key part of our Cap and Share and CapGlobalCarbon initiatives. (There wasn’t time for Barry to go into a final possibility – Carbon Dioxide ‘removal’ – but he’ll do so at a later date.)

Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members. 

3 Replies to “Beyond the Obvious: novel podcasts for enquirers”

  1. More 11 year olds and less common un-wisdom from Seán Ó’Conláin please, the latter making it sound like the real problems that need to be addressed are personal choice and efficiency issues, we should be WAY beyond this type of discussion and if that is the kind of experts you wish to consult with then I don’t see the point of the series… Let’s get real and talk emergency like the kids are telling us to — they are right!

    Tony Phillips

  2. Hi Tony, thanks for the feedback. I totally agree that decarbonisation is a systemic issue that can’t be resolved solely through individual choice. I had a different interpretation of what Barry said (I assume you’re referring to Barry rather than Seán) – to me it seemed that he was emphasising the need for top-down government action to bring about radical supply-side transformation in the energy sector.

    We ran out of time for going into much detail about the demand side (energy consumption) but we’re planning to discuss it more in future podcasts because it’s so crucial. But there again, I would say that many (of not most) of the changes that are needed are systemic rather than individual choices: for example changes to the monetary system, to taxation and to infrastructure.

    And yes, we plan to include young peoples’ voices more as well in future podcasts. So I hope you’ll stick with us!

  3. If your name “Beyond The Obvious” has real meaning I, for one, would hope you will present some ideas and subjects that really are ‘beyond the obvious’. From a quick look at the topics you have planned, they seem very obvious things to me, both historically and conceptually, things that have been tried over and over, in one form or another, and don’t work. Food for thought, perhaps.

    Truly new and un-obvious solution sets (I call it ‘z-axis’ thinking) are rarely presented anywhere by anyone. They are there, I am certain of that. But the only ideas that are given credence on the tables of serious discussion, by the left or the right, are those attached to wealth and power. Those subjects are all quite obvious, in intent and design. They are the tropes of a perpetual either/or war that we cannot exit until we discover real replacements that, as Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy have both said, are things we can say “Yes” to.

    Presented with the problem of finding non-obvious solution sets for climate change and healthcare, to name but two, solutions that required neither government permission nor corporate approval, I was able to come up with them with little difficulty. I’m no expert in either subject by any stretch. If I can do that much, certainly there are others who are well-versed in such matters that can do much better than I can.

    (Climate Change:)


    As Diane Di Prima astutely warned us in 1985, “THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST THE IMAGINATION.”

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