48 October/November 2023 October/November 2023 PB
Had that action not been taken then, much of
the southern hemisphere in particular would
by now be bathed in deadly levels of ultraviolet
radiation.
Among the most severely critical boundary
breaches now occurring are as a result of the
overuse of nitrogen and phosphorus, primarily
as fertilisers. These chemicals are devastating
many of the world’s waterways, leading to algal
blooms and oxygen-free dead zones.
In Ireland, the toxic eff ects of nutrient
overloads into our waterways are becoming
ever more apparent. Lough Neagh, the vast
lake in Northern Ireland, is severely damaged
as a result mainly of runoff from agriculture, as
well as raw sewage and other contaminants.
Similar blooms are being reported across
Irish lakes and estuaries, a problem that has
notably worsened since the abolition of dairy
quotas in 2015 and the subsequent rush to
intensify industrial-scale dairying operations,
using our political leverage at EU level to allow
thousands of Irish farmers a derogation to
exceed the EUs scientifi cally established
maximum safe limits for nitrates.
The overloading of the global atmosphere
with powerful heat-trapping gases, mainly
carbon dioxide and methane, means
we have fundamentally altered the
chemistry of the atmosphere of an
entire planet, and this is playing
out, as predicted, in ever more
extreme weather events, from
droughts, heatwaves and fl ooding
events to more powerful storm
systems.