Lectures

Corinna Byrne – Carbon Cycles and Sinks; refocussing the purpose and use of land

Corinna Byrne examined the policies needed to get Irish land to absorb CO2 rather than release it. Besides discussing how the large amounts of carbon locked up in peatlands can be safeguarded, she reviewed the role that biochar could play in reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions and building up the fertility and carbon content of the soil.

Michael Hayes – Second generation biorefining for sustainable indigenous industries for Ireland.

Michael Hayes pointed out that Ireland has more high quality soil per head of population than any other country in the EC, and the rainfall and climate to grow biomass very efficiently. He described how this biomass could be refined into a wide range of valuable products, many of which would replace petrochemicals.

Emer O’Siochru – Proximity Principle in Rural Planning and Development; integrating energy, food, soil fertility, carbon mitigation and shelter.

Emer O'Siochru believes that the proximity principle has to be turned on its head if communities are to become sustainable. She argued that, instead of bringing similar activities closer together to reap the benefits of scale and agglomeration, different activities should be beside each other to be more energy- and carbon-efficient. She wants new, low-carbon food, energy and shelter production systems to be integrated locally to transform and invigorate rural communities.

John Sharry – Cultivating Hope and Managing Despair

John Sharry, a family and child psychotherapist, looked at the way communities are responding to the current crises. He drew on modern psychological models of motivation and change, and of how people deal with threat and loss, to suggest strategies which can be used both to help individuals change and to galvanise communities into collective action.