Communism, Development, Economy, Education, Environment, Health, Ireland, Politics, Uncategorized

Green should mean Red

The leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan has written an article for Village Magazine on the origins and current orientation of his party. I welcome references to seminal influences such as Rachel Carson, whose Silent Spring (1962) drew attention to the environmental damage wrought by industrial farming; and to 1960s ‘systems thinking’, culminating in the Club of Rome, which …


Agriculture, Development, Economy, Environment, Food Politics, Gastronomy, Health, Ireland, Uncategorized

Feirme-geddon. Ten reasons why Irish farming as we know it is on the way out.

We have already seen two agricultural revolutions in Ireland, now we are set for a third. This presents opportunities to farmers who are willing to adapt. After the last Ice Age, the agriculturists who arrived in Ireland brought with them a tool kit of grains and domesticated animals that had spread from the Middle East into Europe. Irish conditions could …


In Praise of Hemp

(Published in the Sunday Times, 19/10/14) In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar a marauding mob scour the city for the Emperor’s assassins. They chance upon Cinna the Poet, namesake of one the conspirators. On being asked his name, fatally he replies ‘Cinna’ at which point the First Citizen cries ‘tear him to pieces; he’s a conspirator’. Understandably vexed Cinna wails: ‘I am …

Reforming Our Food Culture

Steven Poole declares that ‘Western culture is eating itself stupid’. His book You Aren’t What You Eat (2012) pokes fun at the snobbery, fads and celebrity culture that attend ‘foodie’ culture. The term ‘foodie’ emerged in the 1980s, but the idea of discussing the enjoyment of food is much older. In France it goes back to the start of the …

Slaughter House Rules of the Jungle

(Published in Village Magazine, June 2016) Ireland is awakening to the environmental impact of its livestock industry. Village has led the way, tackling an unpalatable subject that the O’Reilly/O’Brien press and the Old Lady of D’Olier Street for a long time ignored. RTE has been more craven still in its favouritism towards a livestock industry, often lovingly referred to as …

An Enduring Legacy – Lessons from the Great Famine

(Published in Village Magazine, November 2012) Who was to blame for the Great Famine? This thorny question rears its head with the recent publication of the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine by Cork University Press. We may accept the detached assessment of the American economic historian Joel Mokyr expressed some years ago that ‘Ireland was considered by Britain as …

Wild Law Lecture

Delivered in Anglo-American University, Prague 19/11/15 It is sometimes observed in jurisprudence how Hitler came to power by legal means and continued to govern in accordance with the German constitution. Of course an American might argue that this could never happen there because of the separation of powers between the judiciary, executive and legislature in their constitution. But slavery was …

Too Much of a Bad Thing

(London Magazine, December 2011) So many tears have been shed for sugar that by rights it ought to have lost its sweetness. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat The English palate, especially the working class palate, now rejects good food almost automatically. George Orwell Type: ‘Haiti’; ‘Dominican Republic’; and ‘border’, into an image search on Google. A split-second-cyber-miracle-later a startling aerial photograph of a …

Protecting Agriculture from Emissions Targets Will Cost the Wider Economy

(Published in the Sunday Times, November 9, 2014) In a week when the International Panel on Climate Change said that current levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have not been seen in at least 800,000 years the European Council agreed to set no specific targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction in the agriculture sector. The move was instigated by the …

The Environmental Origins of Ebola

(Published in the Irish Times Oct 27, 2015) A new study explores the environmental factors that give rise to outbreaks of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Jointly undertaken by the Environmental Foundation for Africa and the ERM Foundation it posits a connection between rainforest fragmentation and this zoonotic disease. This is hypothesised to occur through increased contact between species that normally …