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 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.
Dan Sullivan contrasted the experience of Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the present downturn. Cleveland is struggling to stem a complete collapse of its housing market while in Pittsburgh, foreclosure rates are low, home prices are climbing slightly and construction rates are increasing. He attributed the difference to the fact that Pittsburgh has a site value tax and Cleveland does not.
Bruce Darrell thinks that a secure food supply is an essential part of the response to the climate, energy, economic and health crises. As state planning for such a supply has been grossly inadequate, he detailed the key actions that we need to take at a personal, community and regional level to compensate.
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.