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Climate activist 'As we humans adapt to heatwaves, the quiet death of nature continues'

Irish climate activist Jessica Dunne says she fears this beautiful planet is running out of time.

I COULD WRITE love letters to this planet, I have seen her in every season, in shade and sunlight.

I have trudged through bogs and forests in the haze of a cloudy day, watching the dew decorate spiders’ webs like diamonds.

I have been left speechless at the sight of mountains and fields white with snow. I have giddily sled down steep hills and marvelled at the way frost gilds the foliage.

I have been caught in the midst of a storm and ran for shelter, there I noticed the deep, warm rumbles of thunder and the worms coming to the surface, exploring the newly drenched landscape.

I have swam in cool rivers when rays of sunlight left gold specks on their surface, the water providing relief on a sunny day while fish and flies continue in their routine, undisturbed by my small invasion.

I am old enough now to remember all these seasons, how nature bends and changes with the months. It feels old and knowing, the trees shedding their leaves, the birds migrating, all trusting that the seasons will come and go, reliable in their pattern.

Climate catastrophe

As I grow up, a climate catastrophe looms, and it threatens to disturb these natural rhythms. Every year the warning signs get louder. Our mild island’s climate grows more extreme and unpredictable, a fact made all too clear by the recent heatwave.

In Ireland, heatwaves are a rare occasion, and we flock to the beaches on mass, doused in sun cream with ice pops in hand. There is an unbridled glee to those days as the world goes on pause and we have permission to laze about.

But when the heatwaves continue for days on end, we must begin to go about our lives and jobs with this oppressive heat. We begin to realise how ill-suited our little island is to this weather, how the rivers run low and rail lines buckle.

We install air conditioning units to make the days more bearable and soldier on as best as we can. But as we make do, the crisis continues. These heatwaves are ever-worsening, growing in length and ferocity from year to year. As we simply adapt to the heat, the quiet death of nature continues.

I live near a shady little forest, and standing in the undisturbed greenery facing steep walls carved from glaciers where a river has existed for thousands of years, I feel the weight of eternity.

I understand that I bask in the same forest as those from centuries before. In the shade of the trees, I fear that this, the sublime of nature, will become nostalgia on a page.

As the sun has beat down in this last heatwave, harsh and unforgiving in its glare, the reality of the climate crisis sets in. I fear that the river will dry up in the sweltering heat, that the flowers will wilt, the grass will turn gold and dry and the trees will turn to ash.

That we will lose the natural world, ever-trusting of the reliable seasons that we disturbed.

Jessica Dunne is an activist and songwriter from Dublin Ireland. She began activism in the climate movement but now also engages in more general activism, realising the connected nature of all social issues.


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