Motley - Volume XIV - Issue #1 - Climate Emergency

Page 1

Volume 14 Issue 1 September 2020

Interview with MEP Grace O'Sullivan

How Can Climate Change Affect Your Anxiety? Motley Speaks to the "I'm Grand Mam" Podcast Our First Socially Distanced Photoshoot

CLIMATE EMERGENCY IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO CHANGE OUR FUTURE


Masthead

Editorial Staff MOLLY KAVANAGH Deputy Editor-in-Chief Molly is a recent UCC English graduate who is now doing an MSc in Government and Politics. She's also our former Deputy Current Affairs Editor, and is overseeing Motley's brand new Wellness Section!

TIM CARUSO Designer

Tim is a recent Film & Screen Media graduate from Westchester, New York. Having plenty of experience in design, photography and filmmaking, Tim is dedicated to making the visually pleasing pages you’ve grown to love. Tim was previously nominated for an SPA and Smedia Award for Magazine Design for his contributions to Motley.

ALANA DALY MULLIGAN

NIAMH BROWNE

JACK COLEMAN

PAUL MCLAUCHLAN

Current Affairs

Features & Opinions

Entertainment

Fashion

Alana Daly Mulligan is an awardwinning spokenword “artivist” & filmmaker of Déise extraction. With work tackling social issues by playing with heartstrings, she hopes to apply her artistic formula to her role as Motley current affairs editor.

Prolific writer and notorious flirt, Niamh Browne is currently completing a BA in art history and philosophy and is this year's features and opinion editor for Motley Magazine. Winner of the HotPress outstanding achievement award in 2018, she has since been staff writer for Motley.

Jack Coleman is a third-year Government student, who got his start in student media in second year as Gaming Editor for the Express. Making the not-so-controversial controversial decision to join Motley, Jack looks to produce people-focused content that appeals to all students.

Paul McLauchlan is a final year arts student studying French and politics. He’s been writing about fashion for years. He’s used his position at Motley to spotlight emerging creatives. The best part of Motley, he said, is being printed alongside some of the best talent this college has to offer. This is Paul’s last issue as fashion editor.

DEPUTY EDITORS Current Affairs Features & Opinions Entertainment Fashion

Stephen Moynihan Emer Walsh Rebeckah McCarthy Kaia Purcell

STAFF WRITERS Head Staff Writer Current Affairs Staff Writer Fashion Staff Writer Contributing Staff Writer

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Kane Geary O Keeffe Brendan O'Grady Grace Claro John Hunter

Carly Fitzgerlad Rebecca Dineen Diego Leon

CONTRIBUTORS Moira Brennan Dewi Bolger-Moore Ramya Baskaran Liam O'Leary Cian McDonnell

ONLINE TEAM Online Editor Social Media

Grace Byers Erica Shelly

This publication is made from 100% recycled paper. Motley welcomes letters from readers, emailed to editor@motley.ie. Motley is published by Motley Magazine, The Hub, UCC, Western Road, Cork. Printed by City Print Limited, Victoria Cross, Cork. Copyright 2020 Motley Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is strictly prohibited. All efforts have been made to ensure that details and pricing are correct at time of print. Motley magazine does not take responsibility for any errors incurred. This magazine can be recycled either in your green bin kerbside collection or at a local recycling point. Images provided by Unsplash.com Vectors provided by Vecteezy.com and Freepik.com

2 | SEPTEMBER 2020

Ashlin O'Sullivan Síofra Ryan Darragh Ó'Caoimh Maeve McTaggart


from the

Editor's Desk BECOMING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF MOTLEY MAGAZINE IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE MOST MEMORABLE AND POSITIVE OUTLIER FOR ME IN THIS MOST BIZARRE AND SOCIALLY TECTONIC OF YEARS.

T

aking this publication into the future is a distinct and singular honour. I take on this role cognisant of the high standards set by my predecessors and with a determination to push beyond the constraints of traditional and antiquated conceptions of journalism. That sense of ambition is unfaltering throughout this new team: journalistic curiosity and prowess the very fibre upon which our editors and contributors are built. Our single purpose and our promise to you as a publication is this: to cut through the complex issues that are most consequential to our student community, now and in the future. It is this purpose which has driven our recruitment. We have spent the summer developing an incredible team of dedicated journalists, each with their own unique take on the stories that weave our collective narrative. It is with a sense of immense pride and an unquenchable excitement that we can now present you with Volume XIV: Issue I (The Climate Emergency). Climate change is the existential threat of our time. We have quelled pandemics, we have survived war, we have developed medicines that allow us to survive infection. We have surmounted every challenge put to us to date. These victories were made possible in part, because we had a stable environment to provide for us, upon which we could mount a response.

Matthew Moynihan

Editor In-Chief In these pages you will find a broad debate on climate change expressed across current affairs, features, fashion and entertainment. Our magazine's name, indeed, suggests that our ethos is to be an all-encompassing canvas upon which students can paint their perspective. This issue features nuanced debate on controversial topics such as the potential advantages and disadvantages of nuclear energy. However, although we welcome all viewpoints: we will not amplify the voices of those who deny the science. We welcome reasoned stances from all ideological perspectives, so long as the arguments are based in reason. Climate denial is not one of those reasoned arguments. For our part, we have moved to 100% recycled paper for the 2020/21 academic year. Although this is more costly, it is undoubtedly the right move to take this publication forward. We have voluntarily reduced our print run, too. These are very minor steps in the right direction, but steps nonetheless. As our world changes in real-time, dizzying us with the impact of a global pandemic and a depressingly unstable political landscape it is no surprise that many of us have turned to creativity as a coping mechanism. Use Motley as your canvas. These pages are yours. We want your ideas, your originality and your voice. We are here to amplify your hot takes, foster your journalistic prowess and provide a figurative canvas, upon which you can ink your ideas. If you have an idea, and feel hesitant, send one of our team an email, we will always seek to harness your creativity. This is going to be a strange academic term for all of us. Face masks, hand-gel and countless banal greetings altering our previous conceptions of the university social experience. An experience transformed, no doubt, but we need not mask our natural tendencies to sociality. We are all feeling our way through the darkness, tentatively reaching out towards the light of a time beyond this pandemic. We understand your anxieties, we feel your frustrations but we know that we will get through this together. These pages will provide a sense of escapism, not just for you the reader, but for all of us at Motley. A fantastic year undoubtedly lies ahead. Let ink be your medicine, journalism your prescription and being informed your prognosis.

|3


ISSUE No1 - SEPTEMBER 2020 MOTLEY.IE

CURRENT AFFAIRS

FEATURES

ENTERTAINMENT

FASHION

MEP Representative Grace O'Sullivan graces Motley with her expert experience on climate change

Molly Kavanagh explores how consumerism impacts our ethical choices to be responsible spenders

CEO of FLyQuest Tricia Sugita discusses the team's new approach to make a green impact in the realm of esports.

Kaia Purcell debuts her first issue of A Week in My Wardrobe to kick off our September issue.

P. 10

4 | SEPTEMBER 2020

P. 24

P. 27

P. 36


Mature Student Office: Top of the Class

F

or Eithne Kavanagh, winning the USI Mature Student of the Year award came as a welcome surprise during a less than usual March (pronounced: “lockdown”). “It’s a strange one, as I really didn’t expect to win. So when they said my name I was completely shocked,” she confesses. “Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, a virtual ceremony took place, so my husband was literally jumping up and down in the kitchen. It was nice to have everything I’ve done recognised.” More than just recognizing academic achievement, the award takes into consideration the

whole spectrum of student life, so it’s clear to see why Eithne came out on top at this year’s ceremony. “I’m always very hard on myself, I think a lot of mature students are, and it’s hard to not compare yourself to other students who are excelling academically. For the last two years especially, I’ve made a particular effort to do non-academic activities to attempt to integrate better, but also I’m very aware as a mature student I may not get the opportunity again.” Returning to college was a team effort for Eithne, who says she was lucky to have the necessary

support to balance the workload of academic pursuits and family pursuits. “I was lucky to have help from my parents and my in-laws who would come down to help with babysitting. It wasn’t easy trying to explain to my four-year-old why I wasn’t around as much anymore. He has an autism diagnosis and was starting in Sonas Special School, and he was not happy with me leaving. I have a ten-year-old who is very understanding and tells me she wants to go to UCC now.” When asked what advice she’d give to future mature students, Eithne has no shortage of tips.

“I’ve a few pieces of general advice for mature students: if you have a question, ask it. Do not worry about other people. Be honest. If you’re struggling, tell someone. Start the work as soon as you can. Be kind, to yourself and others. Put yourself out there, but know your limits. Remember why you chose to be here.” The Mature Student Office offers a wide range of supports for mature students. If you have any questions, or need any advice, they’re there year round to help. Email mso@ ucc.ie for more info.

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 5


UCC Wellness

WHEN YOU SUFFER FROM A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER, EVERYTHING BECOMES A THOUSAND TIMES MORE DIFFICULT- INCLUDING SEEKING PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT. DOESN’T SEEM VERY FAIR, DOES IT? TO MAKE THE PROCESS A LITTLE EASIER FOR YOU, HERE’S A LIST OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN CORK CITY THAT ACCEPT SELF -REFERRALS AND OFFER REDUCED RATES FOR STUDENTS!

MyMind is a service that provides affordable, community-based care to those suffering from mental health issues. MyMind provides counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, children, couples, and families at reduced rates. For example, one hour, in-person sessions normally cost €50, but that rate is lowered to €20 per session if you can provide evidence that you are unemployed, retired, or a full-time student enrolled in a 3rd level institution (this can be done simply by showing them your student card!). Booking an appointment with MyMind is incredibly easy because the entire process can be done online. You can also browse their list of qualified counselors and psychotherapists on their website and choose the one who you think is best suited to your needs. MyMind has also announced that they’ll be launching free online counseling sessions for people who are suffering from mental health-related issues caused, or exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be eligible for free online counseling if you present with “COVID-19 related mental health issues (e.g. bereavement, social isolation/cocooning, illness, stress, depression, anxiety, addiction, domestic violence, etc).” You’re also eligible if you’re a “front-line worker in a medical setting, employed with low income, unemployed due to COVID-19, bereaved resulting from COVID-19, over the age of 65, or cocooning due to ill-health (regardless of age).” You do not need a referral from a GP to use MyMind’s services, and more information can be found on MyMind.org. The MyMind centre in Cork is located at Unit 6, South Bank, Crosse's Green, The Lough, Cork City.

6 | SEPTEMBER 2020

Pieta House is a mental health organization that specializes in assisting people who are struggling with suicidal ideation, self-harm, or bereavement brought on by the suicide of a loved one. Admitting to a friend, family member, counselor, or psychiatrist that you’re experiencing suicidal ideation is very difficult and incredibly nerve-wracking. This is why Pieta House is such a uniquely beneficial service- when a person walks into their first appointment, the counselor is already expecting that patient to be struggling with suicidal ideation or self-harm. With that barrier broken down, it makes opening up an honest and healthy dialogue with your counselor much, much easier, which will lead to you receiving the proper care. Pieta House is also entirely free of charge and you can attend up to twelve free sessions. The organization also manages a helpline, which is staffed by licensed therapists twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can contact the helpline by calling 1800 247 247, or by texting HELP to 51444. Once on the line, a qualified and experienced counselor will be available to speak with you and explain the services offered by Pieta House, and your conversation is entirely confidential. All appointments and conversations had with a staff member at Pieta House are kept private, with the only exception being that emergency services will be contacted if you tell your counselor that you are planning to harm yourself, or if they have any other reason to believe that you are in immediate danger. To schedule an appointment at the Pieta House located in Cork City at Shanakiel, Sunday’s Well, call (021) 4395333. More information can be found on Pieta.ie.

UCC provides up to six free counseling sessions for students, and you can make an appointment by emailing counselling@ucc.ie. This service is entirely free of charge and conveniently located on UCC’s main campus- the only factors to take into consideration are the fact that the wait times can occasionally be quite long due to high demand, and that UCC counselors are better equipped to help students with mild mental health issues (eg. academic stress, relationship troubles, etc) as opposed to serious psychiatric disorders. If you urgently need to see a counselor or suffer from a severe mental health issue, you might find it more helpful to use a different service or to obtain a referral to another agency from your GP.

Cork Counselling Services offers counseling and psychotherapy services in Cork City. Patients can self-refer themselves to this service and upon the completion of an initial assessment, can schedule further appointments or be referred to another agency that specializes in crisis intervention or the treatment of more specific issues, such as eating disorders, abuse, or addiction. Each session normally costs 60 euro, but Cork Counselling Services operates on a sliding scale in which patients will only be asked to pay what they’re able to. Reduced rates are typically 30 or 40 euro, but the centre encourages potential clients to never let their inability to pay deter them from pursuing counseling with this service, so together with your counselor, you can determine how much you can afford at your initial consultation. More information can be found at Corkcounsellingservices. ie, and they can be reached at 0214274951. The center is located at 7 Father Matthew Street in Cork City, near the Cork College of Commerce.


Current Affairs

The True

of Our Space Debris Situation LIAM O’LEARY EXAMINES ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF HUMANITY' S PURSUITS IN SPACE.

A

lthough it may not seem like it, our lives are heavily dependent on space technology. In an increasingly global and technological world, space technologies are pivotal to our society now more than ever, not just for use in everyday situations but also for national security and disaster aid, on top of a myriad of new business opportunities. Satellites form the basis for long distance telecommunication and meteorological forecasting, providing data on atmospheric pollutants key to addressing climate change, and form global positioning systems useful for creating maps. But with satellites comes space debris, i.e. leftover manmade junk from defunct missions and collisions. Currently, about 34,000

objects larger than 10 centimetres are hurtling around Earth faster than a bullet at over 28,900 km/h. Although space technology has taken giant leaps in recent years with flagship European research programmes placing focus on an increase in space exploration, research, and investment; debris is only further accumulating. The concern arises that if the industry is not made globally sustainable soon then satellites may not be able to survive. This could result in the loss of most of our infrastructure in Space, impacting hundreds of industries and modernday society as a whole. Our own European space economy has proved to be a very important part of the overall EU, employing approximately 230,000 people and having an

estimated value between €46-54 billion. Further international regulation on sustainable satellite orbits, space demilitarisation, and research into possible futuristic space debris cleaning and removal tools (or as I like to call them ‘vacuum cleaners’) are just a couple proposed solutions to manage and curb space debris accumulation, promote the sustainable utilisation of space, and avoid catastrophic collisions. Military tensions in space are growing with the development of AntiSatellite Missiles by the United States, Russia, China, and India, especially given recent missile and ground laser tests in India. The idea of utilising space for celestial conflict is nothing new, currently, the United Nations Outer Space Treaty does not ban military activities or the weaponisation of space (with the exception of weapons of mass destruction). But with more recent developments such as the U.S’s establishment of the United States Space Force (USSF) which aims to mature its military doctrine for space power, space is becoming further and further militarised. If a space arms race can’t be prevented, there could be a total disruption of the agreed law that outer space is the common heritage of all humankind with a potential space-faring war spelling disastrous consequences. Given how there are already 6000 satellites orbiting Earth with the possibility of that number growing to 57,000

in the next ten years, any satellite destruction could cause a severe increase in space debris and potentially render space unusable for the foreseeable future. Due to unclear regulations, it's not wellknown how space treaties apply to private companies with the Outer Space Treaty vaguely stipulating that national governments are responsible for regulating their actions. This leads to an uneven regulation of private companies as governments are incentivised to be lenient to advance their own global soft power. Additionally, thanks to the development of commercial launch systems, the cost of accessing space has substantially reduced. Space is becoming increasingly crowded as a result with both new countries, such as Australia, and private actors, such as SpaceX entering the ever-more diversifying arena. SpaceX’s StarLink programme alone plans for 42,000 new satellites. Competition and commercialisation of space activities are swiftly increasing with major technological shifts disrupting traditional industrial and business models. With this in mind and considering the increased risk of collision with more satellites in orbit as well as the potential issues caused to astronomers with bright satellites obstructing views of our cosmos; how can we best coordinate so as to spur economic growth, new technological developments, and innovation within the space sector? Ultimately the question now arises, is there enough space for everyone?

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 7


Reacting Out Should Ireland Go Nuclear?

DEPUTY EDITOR STEPHEN MOYNIHAN TACKLES THE ISSUE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY IN IRELAND – IS IT VIABLE GIVEN THE DEVELOPMENTS IN TECHNOLOGY OR ARE THERE SIMPLY TOO MANY STRINGS ATTACHED FOR IRELAND TO CONSIDER?

T

he discussion around nuclear energy as a viable, alternative clean energy source is one that undoubtedly turns heads, but with the mitigation of environmental degradation and climate breakdown becoming increasingly urgent, many are wondering if it could be a solution to Ireland’s demands for energy. In its most basic terms, nuclear energy works by breaking up tiny particles of radioactive elements in a process called fission. When these particles break up, energy is released, and a chain reaction occurs causing the break-up of other atoms, creating massive amounts of energy. No greenhouse gases are emitted – meaning that nuclear energy does not directly contribute to a warming planet. However, many people remain wary; understandably so. Nuclear power-related mishaps have received great amounts of attention in the media in recent decades. These range from the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986, to the

8 | SEPTEMBER 2020

Fukushima Disaster of 2011 which followed a major earthquake. Closer to home, concerns have been raised with the proximity of the Sellafield nuclear site in north-west England, along with the UK’s Radioactive Waste Management agency examining the potential to store nuclear waste in Northern Ireland. However, with the Irish government committed to a 7% per annum reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030, is it time that nuclear energy is considered? That is a question which Dr. Paul Deane, of UCC’s School of Engineering, has been grappling with. In a recently published article with the Environmental

“WE KNOW WE CAN’T HAVE A STABLE AND SECURE ENERGY SYSTEM IF WE FULLY RELY ON WIND ENERGY. CURRENT RESEARCH FROM UCC SUGGESTS THAT WE DO NEED TO CONTINUE WITH WIND, BUT WE NEED TO CONSIDER OTHER OPTIONS"

Research Institute, he points to ‘small modular nuclear reactors’ (SMNRs) as a potential solution to the issue of producing clean energy when weather conditions mean solar or wind-powered systems are underproducing. According to Dr. Deane, SMNRs can be as little as ¼ the size of traditional reactors, meaning they make more economic sense for a country our size. These also feature what is known as “passive safety”, meaning that they shut down automatically when there is a problem. This is in contrast with traditional reactors, which were designed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when safety standards were not as stringent, and are more liable to human error. Although not yet commercially available, SMNR trials are underway in Canada, Argentina, Russia and the US. Dr. Deane argues that if these trials lead to a technological breakthrough in the next five-to-ten years, then Ireland should discuss the viability of its use. A significant barrier to this, however, is the Energy Regulation Act 1999, which prohibits “the use of nuclear fission for the generation of electricity”. However, it places no constraint on Ireland’s ability to import nuclear energy, and therefore allows us to outsource the hazards of nuclear energy whilst also reaping the benefits, effectively free-riding on risks taken by jurisdictions producing nuclear energy. Whilst this may seem like a positive, it leaves us exposed to issues outside of our borders, and

beyond our control. This, Dr. Deane argues, is similar to Ireland’s policy on oil and gas exploration. “Ireland doesn’t tend to be good at energy security, we ban oil and gas exploration yet still rely on foreign imports from this source. This is something we need to get better at”. This issue takes on extra importance when you consider that a recent EirGrid report warned that Ireland’s electricity surplus is set to decrease substantially towards 2030, potentially turning into a deficit. These issues aren’t going to disappear. A mature debate about our future energy needs must commence to ensure that we can have a secure and stable energy system whilst also playing our part in mitigating the climate emergency. If nuclear energy can play a role in this, then it should be given real consideration.


California Burning

AS THE UNITED STATES LUNGES INTO DEBATE SEASON AHEAD OF ITS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ON 3ND NOVEMBER, INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS WRITER JOHN HUNTER DISCUSSES THE SEA CHANGE OF AMERICAN THOUGHT AND PUBLIC OPINION ON THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

Climate Change and the US Presidential Election

I

t was during a heatwave when the lightning struck. This triggered the latest burning of California State which, since starting on the 17th August, has scorched over three million acres of land, burned thousands of structures, and claimed over twenty lives. Both contributing factors worked hand-inhand to create the extreme conditions needed to allow the fire to start and spread rapidly. The historic heatwave that dried out much of the state, with Death Valley recording a historic temperature of 54.4°C, made vegetation susceptible to fire. The ‘dry lightning’ - striking with little to no rain accompanying it - is rare in California and acted as the matches that began the infernos. And while it's easy to fixate on the extraordinary factors that sparked the flames, it's important not to forget the underlying issue that set the stage for the blaze: the ongoing effects of climate change. If you had said ten months ago, as California reeled from another series of devastating wildfires and Australia continued to burn into the new year and beyond, that climate change wouldn’t be one of the defining issues of the

upcoming US presidential election, you wouldn’t have been believed. Even as the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in China, the world was transfixed by images of the Australian countryside or areas in California being reduced to ash and it seemed like the issue had grown in priority for many voters. On the 21st February, as Covid-19 cases began to emerge in the United States and the first deaths were reported, a poll conducted by Climate Nexus, between the 6th and 9th February, was released. What the results showed was that while there is still scepticism, climate change had become a major issue for most of the voters surveyed. 67% of respondents to the question “How worried are you about climate change?” were either ‘very worried’ (34%) or ‘somewhat worried’ (33%);70% believed that the federal government should be doing either ‘much more’ (45%) or ‘somewhat more’ (25%); and 70% believed that climate change is having a ‘large effect’ (44%) or ‘some effect’ (26%) on extreme weather events in the United States. But with the rise of Covid-19, the issue of climate change went from potential election issue

to a distant memory. On the 13th August a more recent poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, was published. It showed that of the 11,001 participants, “Fewer than half say climate change (42%)” will be important in their decision. US citizens instead think the economy, health care, Supreme Court appointments, the Coronavirus outbreak and violent crime are most important. With this in mind, it is no surprise that the two major party candidates are reflecting the lack of climate urgency from American citizens in their campaigning. Biden has made serious pledges to address climate change if elected; initiatives to make the US a 100% clean economy, producing net-zero emissions by 2050 while also promising to recommit the US to the Paris Climate Agreement. However, his campaign’s main strategy is to attack Trump’s failure to address the Covid-19 crisis, as well as his divisive politics. Trump on the other hand has shown his lack of concern for climate change by pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which the US will formally be exiting on the 4th November. His re-election campaign

is mainly focused on the economy, jobs, tough foreign policy and immigration, continuing his “America First” strategy which helped him secure the White House in 2016. With the debates taking place on the 29th September and the 15th and 22nd October respectively, the election draws near. Whatever the outcome, right now California still burns, and will continue to burn as the wildfire season progresses. While the eyes of the world are firmly fixed on the devastating effects of Covid-19, and rightly so, it is important to be conscious of, and to address the devastating effects climate change is having and will continue to have in the future.

SHAKING HANDS

JOE BIDEN CAMPAIGNS FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION IN CHARLESTON, SC

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 9


No Airs, Just

GRAC MEP Grace O’Sullivan’s meteoric rise as a leading force for activist politics in Europe ALANA DALY MULLIGAN TALKS TO MEP GRACE O’SULLIVAN ABOUT FOOD SECURITY, BREXIT, THE OCEANS AND YOUTH ENGAGEMENT WITH POLITICS.

Grace O’Sullivan is somewhat of a local celebrity in Tramore, Co. Waterford. Starting at 21 as an environmentalist with Greenpeace, she’s travelled the world protecting the planet, been deported from Haiti (among other places) for going into underground nuclear test zones, arrested but never charged, survived a French Secret Service attack, as well as reaching the distinguished position of Crew Manager for Greenpeace International in Amsterdam.

I

n the last decade, we’ve seen her rise up the ranks of the hemorrhaging Green Party following the economic crash in 2008, becoming one of the best-known voices in the Seanad, and now, a European Representative to 13 counties of Ireland. She’s also casually Ireland’s First Female Surf Champion, UCC alumnus and a single

10 | SEPTEMBER 2020

mother to three daughters: her life is more akin to a superhero backstory than your average person in politics. But she doesn’t flaunt it. She shows me her daughters’ artwork that decorates the house, proudly displays her new lockdown home-tattoo, and tells me that she goes for a swim every morning. “I’m a waterbaby” she declares, and you can understand why. Those from Tramore often have this ocean quality to their being, and it’s in Grace: something calming and methodical about the way she navigates the world, an approach only someone who has weathered many different storms could possibly have. Since becoming an MEP, O’Sullivan has played an important role on a variety of committees in helping bring her ecoeye to European policy decisions. One of the oldest and most influential committees O’Sullivan sits on is the PECH Committee as coordinator of the Green Group. The PECH Committee


CE CURRENT AFFAIRS | 11


GRACE-FULL

O'SULLIVAN'S EXPERIENCE AS AN EVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST BROUGHT HER ALL THE WAY TO THE ANTARCTIC TO STUDY WILDLIFE IN 1986.

traditionally concerned itself with fisheries but in recent years, O’Sullivan tells me younger parliamentarians are pushing discourse to expand to ocean health at large. “Fish, if it’s properly managed, in terms of conservation, but also in terms of a brilliant food product, can lead to food security. An island like Ireland, surrounded by 7500km2 of coastline, should have fisheries as a strong component of our economy.” The Committee looks at TACs or Total Allowable Catches, an often controversial aspect of European debates. This system often does not consider the replenishing abilities of fish and could cause decline should

12 | SEPTEMBER 2020

the policy of maximum sustainable yield not come into play. Apart from being a large environmental issue, the role of this committee is heavily wrapped up in Brexit relations. As coordinator of the Fisheries and Oceans Committee, O’Sullivan has been in conversation with Michel Barnier over the last few months, trying to resolve what is looking to be a skinny deal. “Things aren’t looking good” O’Sullivan tells Motley; “Boris Johnson’s government has a very strong pull to have a crashout in the end. We have until December 31st and because of COVID it’s really difficult. What Barnier is trying to create is a level playing field so as a result of leaving the EU, Britain doesn’t go off creating its own regulations that will undermine the EU’s and that even in terms of fisheries, they have some

waters where Ireland and a number of member states can fish in UK waters, and what we’re trying to come to an agreement with the UK on, is that the stocks will still be managed sustainably and that also we will all gather data for the international scientific body to consider collectively.” MEP O’Sullivan also sits on the ENVI committee, which encompasses all things Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety. She’s the coordinator for the Greens working group on biodiversity, so O’Sullivan is at the table when it comes to talking about the impacts of fossil based plastics, public health, everything we consume, breathe, all those conditions that we need to live healthy lives, and then food safety, (like your Bord Bia mark etc.) among other things.

“We have a massive issue with food security and food safety,” O’Sullivan tells Motley, believing that our current globalised food production mentality is no longer fit for purpose, being both economically unsustainable for those farming in the EU, but also environmentally damaging. We continue to discuss this, how Ireland is slowly but surely going more plant-based in the last decade, how that doesn’t reflect the product export given Ireland is the 5th largest beef exporter in the world. The European Green Deal is offered as the solution to our everincreasing international market’s craving for meat but how this will be effectively enforced is anyone’s guess. While we are still a country fuelled by agriculture, this isn’t sustainable and we need to make the change


“FEEDING THE WORLD IS NOT OUT JOB. THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO DO IS FEED OUR OWN PEOPLE AND TO FEED THEM WELL... I THINK IF WE'RE GOING TO BUILD RESILIENCE WE SHOULD PULL BACK...I THINK OUR MARKET SHOULD BE THE SINGLE MARKET IN EUROPE, WE SHOULD NOT BE PULLING IN FOOD FROM FAR OFF COUNTRIES, SO WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BIG BATTLE ON TRADE, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT." to organic living, something which O’Sullivan and I agree on. While the blame often goes on farmers, O’Sullivan feels it is worth remembering their role as “stewards of the land” who are ecologically conscious about the decisions they make for their animals and nature around them. O’Sullivan continues that we need to see a sense of accountability as to where our food comes from and a drive to educate people on such. We also need to see an increase in people supporting local producers, shopping local. But there are barriers to this too of course. A cost blockade often deters

students from swanning around the English Market and is a huge reality for a lot of people. MEP O’Sullivan agrees with me. “People need to be able to afford it. We need to subsidise to make sure that organics are available to everyone and so it’s not exactly like someone on a high income can go out and buy their very fancy food and good organics and then others are forced to buy a product which comes from much further away at a cheaper price.” Quite simply put, this is a matter of human rights, and one that the EU must prioritise so as not to fall into the same patterns as the United States. While we discussed a wide range of topics, ranging from the Palestine Conflict (O’Sullivan is on the Delegation for relations with Palestine) to sexism in politics, and the current floundering of the Green Party as they continue to navigate their first few months in the coalition government, I was curious about students, and how we fit into ever-evolving Green politics? How can we vote Green when the party leader falls asleep? The

soft-capitalist euphoria we loved and cherished nine months ago has withered. O’Sullivan’s response is one I’ve heard often from Greens over the past few months: compromises will be made and people might not like them. “we’re in it for the long run, we recognise that we can’t be, we’re not going to be, perfect and we will be compromising...I think the mistake some people make, and not just Young Greens, is that they come in and become a member of the party, it’s grassroots, it’s bottom-up, and the fights start happening...I think when people realise that the fighting won’t achieve a lot, collaboration and discussion will achieve a load.” But why are young people struggling to come to terms with the slowness of progression? O’Sullivan offers an answer; “Ireland is coming of age. Because of my experience I’m really

excited and I welcome it and I love the engagement with younger people, but I think some people are just struggling with it. So it’s like an identity crisis in a way. I think the government should be doing more in terms of supporting and helping to ease that tension.” Our three-hour chat was informative, fun and inspired hope in me that there is someone in Europe looking out for the future, looking out for young people. Through it all, O’Sullivan was unassuming about my knowledge, patient, and willing to explain the European system, which is what we need when it often feels like politics are designed to be confusing. There were no airs or graces, just quite simply talking change with a changemaker, the way it should be.

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 13


System Change, Not Climate Change: Why Governments Need to Step Up

“SUSTAINABLE LIVING” HAS BEEN SOMETHING PEOPLE ACROSS THE GLOBE HAVE TRIED TO IMPLEMENT IN THEIR LIVES TO LOWER THEIR CARBON FOOTPRINT. ASHLIN O’SULLIVAN TALKS ABOUT THE UNFAIR WEIGHT WE PUT ON INDIVIDUALS TO ACT IN A SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION TO HAPPEN.

A

common thread that links conversations about the climate emergency across industries and countries is the placement of blame for structural issues on to the individual, as well as responsibility to find and implement solutions. Despite the effects of climate breakdown being clear all around us – successive storm seasons that have devastated coastal towns and villages worldwide and the fact that eight out of the ten warmest years on record have occurred in the last decade come to mind – it is still treated as some niche issue by our government and many others around the globe. Many of the solutions touted by those in charge focus entirely on consumer behaviour without addressing the underlying systemic issues at play. This is a misrepresentation of how large-scale change like that necessary to mitigate the effects of climate breakdown comes to be. It has been proven time and time again that systemic change needs political will to take effect. Take smoking for example. When the public health risk was deemed too severe to allow business interests to carry on unimpeded, the Irish government took what at the time were considered extreme steps to stop the damage. In 2004, we became the first country in the world to outlaw smoking in closed public spaces. To me, this is proof it is possible for

14 | SEPTEMBER 2020

governments to stand up to wealthy and influential lobby groups and create real change when they choose to do so. Placing blame for climate change on the general public and acting like consumer choice is the only solution, distracts from the real causes: extreme deforestation; continuing extraction of fossil fuels; ineffective waste and energy systems; inadequate public transit – the list goes on. Countless outdated systems need to be completely overhauled but no such sweeping change can be forthcoming until there is sufficient willpower and courage among our elected officials to make moves that could be potentially politically unpopular. Individual change can only get us so far. The fact that lockdowns across the world earlier this year are only expected to reduce emissions by 5%, which falls short of the 7.6% decline generally agreed to be necessary makes this clear. Of course, there is virtue in doing anything you can to limit your effect on the environment, but even the term ‘carbon footprint’ and the corresponding idea of personal responsibility stem from an ad campaign by British Petroleum. Its ubiquity illustrates just how successful corporations have been at absolving themselves of responsibility and placing the guilt squarely on consumers. Raising awareness and climate protests can only do so much when it is met just with lip-service and empty platitudes by those in power. Going vegan, cutting out plastic, this all must be matched by policy change at a governmental level to enact measures such as a transition to green energy and construction of flood protections for low-lying areas. Currently the onus is being put on you and me to fix problems far beyond our sphere of influence when what we need is real investment in real solutions.


Brushing Up:

The Impact of Dentistry on the Environment DENTSOC ’S DEWI BOLGER-MOORE TALKS ABOUT THE IMPACT OF DENTISTRY ON OUR PLANET AND HOW DESPITE THE OVERALL NEED FOR SYSTEMIC CHANGE, WE CAN ALSO DO OUR BIT.

B

eing an aspiring dentist and an aspiring environmentalist simultaneously is no mean feat. As many in the healthcare field will concur, these careers don’t lend themselves to ecoamicability. Is dentistry one of the worst offenders? Possibly. Probably. Personally, and as a community, there is dismay at the level of waste in dental practice. Tissue, plastic coverings, gloves, gauze. These are just some of the items dental practices use in their thousands daily. It isn’t atypical for one dentist to use 50 pairs of gloves in one day. In these strange, Covid-19 influenced times, there is further movement away from disinfectantsuitable materials and more usage of disposable, high environmental impact materials. While we must acknowledge that many dental practitioners make valiant efforts to cut back, I have no doubt that we as a wider dental community must collectively ask ourselves the question – “How can we reduce our waste?” The answer isn’t straightforward. There is no

silver bullet, no get out of jail free card when it comes to this. Every little helps! As the dental team we must relentlessly ask – “Do I really need this?” Before you take off your gloves, are you really finished? How many sheets of tissue paper will it really take to wipe that surface? Do I actually need to cover that or will it be touched? These questions perhaps indicate an ethos shift within society where we must ask ourselves before any activity – “How can I do this more passively?” There are undoubtedly essential activities which aren’t eco-friendly, dentistry being one of them, but we need to make them as low-impact as is reasonably possible. Perhaps one of the most controversial environmentally impacting waste products in dentistry is the mercury in dental amalgam. Dental amalgam fillings are the darkcoloured fillings, favoured by few patients due to poor aesthetics, but liked by dentists due to their workability. While many people like to question the health implications of having mercury fillings in your mouth, there is no evidence to substantiate this. On the

contrary, there is evidence aplenty to compound the environmental damage that mercury can do. Mercury, when released into a waterladen environment (e.g. the waterworks), converts into toxic methylmercury and enters the food chain. Methylmercury easily enters the bloodstream and affects the central nervous system. The Minamata Convention is an international treaty which aims to reduce the environmental and health impacts of mercury and completely phase out amalgam use. In 2010, approximately 100 tonnes of mercury entered the solid waste stream in Ireland – approximately the weight of a blue whale. That’s a lot of fillings. This has been significantly reduced since but in Ireland the average dentist still places 8 amalgam fillings a week. There is certainly room for improvement. The general public also has a responsibility to reduce its use of environmentally harmful dental products. Bamboo toothbrushes are very much á la mode and are a great alternative to their plastic

counterparts. Their bristles are unfortunately usually still nylon-based, but you can’t win every battle. Not replacing your toothbrush and using the same splayed, frayed, palm-tree lookalike for 9 months is not an environmentally conscious choice. The fillings you’ll end up needing because you haven’t been able to brush properly will be more environmentally-damaging than a new toothbrush. There are now also newlyemerging biodegradable plant-based dental flosses, which offer a good second option to traditional nylon flosses. We use millions of toothbrushes and hundreds of thousands of kilometres of floss annually in Ireland. If you think that little ol’ you buying a bamboo toothbrush won’t make a difference, think again. And that sums up the basic premise of environmentalism. If you think something small you can do won’t make a difference – think again. Dentistry is certainly a prominent offender, but it is very much symbolic of a wider shift that’s required within society, a need for a greater eco-consciousness.

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 15


A microexamination of Climate Change

FOLLOWING THE SUPREME COURT’S RULING ON THE ESB’S NEGLIGENCE TO UCC REGARDING THE 2009 FLOODS THAT SUMMER, BRENDAN O’GRADY EXAMINES THE CASE AS A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF THE CLIMATE CHANGE OUR WORLD IS FACING, RIGHT ON THE BANKS OF OUR VERY OWN RIVER.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS EDGING ITS WAY INTO DOMINATING THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS. EACH YEAR CARRYING WITH IT A SET OF ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME FREAK WEATHER EVENTS. Storm Darwin uprooted approximately 7.5 million trees in 2014. The following year Storm Desmond gave us national treasure, Teresa Mannion. Storm Ophelia caused almost €70 million in damage in 2017 and just

16 | SEPTEMBER 2020

two years ago, Storm Emma covered the country in more snow than had been seen since the 1980s. Which, when considered, makes established scientific facts, such as the world being approximately 1°C warmer than it was


SPLASH ZONE

THE RIVER LEE POURS INTO THE WESTERN GATEWAY BUILDING DURING THE 2009 FLOOD

during the 1970s sound so deceptively innocuous. The 2020 General Election showed that Environmental issues were very fast becoming a viable and important electoral issue to the public. A hard assertion to argue against given the Green Party won a historic 12 seats and positioned themselves as a viable coalition partner. If there was one event that could articulately paint a microexample of the problem with accountability and responsibility for managing the effects of climate change, it came on the 9th of July

2020, when the Supreme Court found the ESB failed in its duty of care to those downstream of their hydro-electric dams. The court found that no judgement calls were made by the ESB, despite having the scientific expertise and knowledge to be able to assess the potential effects on the interests of downstream landowners. It further argued that the ESB had a “special and substantial” level of control that would enable it to prevent or reduce harm arising from a flood danger. The ESB found itself in a position of being in authoritative control of infrastructure technology along the River Lee when

more than 17 mm of rainfall fell over Cork in a matter of hours. This led to the ESB having to release 520 cubic metres per second of water from the Inniscarra Reservoir; more than 3 times the rate of 150 cubic meters per second they initially released; the maximum flow that would not bust the banks of the Lee downriver from the Dam. Flooding is nothing new to Cork City. There have been over 292 floods since 1841, with the average number of flooding events gradually increasing each decade between 1880 and 1980. The 2009 floods were the worst flooding event in Cork City for a century. We know this city is prone to floods, we have always known this, and we all know that something should be done. The problem there being the use of the word ‘should’ since responsibilities of this scale are rarely taken up voluntarily by state institutions. There is a grey area when it comes to who takes SPLASH ZONE

THE RIVER LEE POURS INTO THE WESTERN GATEWAY BUILDING DURING THE 2009 FLOOD

responsibility for the river flow during flood conditions. Dr. Phillip O’Kane, former Dean of Engineering at UCC, and a former member of the UNESCO-Italian Government Committee for the Safeguard of the Lagoon of Venice spoke to Eco Eye in 2019 with this take: “The ESB’s primary duty is to generate hydropower. If you make hydropower your primary objective and flood protection as your secondary objective, you attenuate the peak of the flood by on average 25%; maximum 50%.” “If you make flood control the primary objective during the flood itself, and hydro-power as the secondary objective, it turns out you can knock 70% off the peak of the flood.” This conflict over primary duty to produce power vs the social responsibility to mitigate the harmful effects of that duty, is as good a micro example of climate change as any. It also highlights the problems facing us in convincing international governments that systemic and institutional change is required to assume the responsibilities of mitigating the effects of global warming. As aforementioned, this isn’t a new problem. We should be well past the point of accepting that institutions who find themselves in unique positions to actively mitigate these situations, ought to do so. What remains to be seen is whether we will deal with the problem now, or as is oftentimes the case in Irish politics, continue to kick the can downstream.

CURRENT AFFAIRS | 17


Features & Opinions

The Romantic Green Party is

Dead & Gone... ...it's Time We Move On

NIAMH BROWNE AND EMER WALSH TAKE A LOOK AT THE TRANSFORMATION OF IRELAND’S GREEN PARTY AND EXPLAIN WHY IT IS TIME TO GHOST THEM JUST LIKE THEY DID THEIR PROGRESSIVE CAUSE.

T

he Green Party has always been a safe option for the liberal voter concerned with the environment and sustainability. One such voter was Motley’s own Niamh Browne who wrote an article advocating for young people to give the Greens a preference, an article which has since aged like rotting fish in the sun. The party’s historic unpopularity changed drastically last February, when the Green’s won 12 seats and over 155,000 first preference votes, which allowed them to enter a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Party coalition, the first coalition of the so-called “Civil War” parties. This surge in support for the Green’s was ultimately pinned down to the more general popularity of left-wing parties as a whole with Sinn Féin, Social Democrats and PBPSolidarity also performing exceptionally well. Young people were the horse power behind this surge, and by god, if you wanted to

18 | SEPTEMBER 2020

dissuade young people from getting involved in politics, nothing else could be quite as effective. When the Green Party entered the coalition, they had done so on the promise that 17 demands would be met. Including: the end of direct provision in Ireland, the consideration of the implementation of a Universal Basic Income, and annual reductions of 7 percent in carbon emissions. These demands were the last ounce of hope leftwing voters had to see any progressive change now that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were back in government. Regrettably, it seems that such promises were quickly abandoned once the coalition formed. Since the coalition’s formation, a disconnect between Green Party TD’s has occurred. In a vote on the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill, Party Whip Neasa Hourigan voted against the party and TD Joe O’Brien abstained from the vote. Hourigan resigned as Whip and both lost their

speaking rights. As to why they voted against the bill, they stated that the bill did not go far enough to protect those who are most vulnerable to losing their tenancy. We have also seen a wave of Green Party members leaving the party, with the most notable members being Green Party MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh, Chair of the Queer Greens Rob O’Sullivan, and the Commercial and Fundraising Officer of the UCCSU, Beth O’Reilly. In a Twitter thread detailing why she decided to leave the party, McHugh stated:

“OUR ONLY WAY FORWARD IS CLIMATE JUSTICE AND THAT'S WHAT I WILL CONTINUE TO WORK TOWARDS BUT THE GREENS NO LONGER PROVIDE A VEHICLE TO DO THAT." Added to this, the Green’s have out done themselves in exhibiting severe incompetencies to the

point of sheer cringe since the coalition’s inception. Within a month of the new government formation, the leader of the Green Party used the n-word openly in Dáil Eireann, fell asleep during a debate on a motion to strengthen workers rights during a pandemic and then woke up to vote against the bill along with the 11 other Green TD’s. It truly is an omnishambles. Instead of acting as the government’s voice of progressiveness, the Party has completely abandoned their policies and assumed the same neo-liberal approach that their coalition partners adopted towards the end of the 2011 financial crisis. Since entering coalition negotiations, the Green Party has misled their own party members on the Programme for Government, they have neglected their commitment to strengthening worker’s rights and they seem more concerned about bicycle lanes in inner-city Dublin than they do about implementing structural change targeting the real enablers of climate change; large corporations. To ensure a cleaner and more sustainable environment for everyone, it is time for us to rethink our approach to climate change. The Green Party has abandoned their commitment to a cleaner and greener society, therefore the time has come for us to abandon our support for the Green Party.


Climate Anxiety

The Unspoken Battle of Our Environmental Fight SIOFRA RYAN TAKES A LOOK AT THE PHENOMENON OF CLIMATE ANXIETY, WHAT IT IS, AND HOW TO MANAGE IT IN THE FIGHT FOR A GREENER SOCIETY. Climate anxiety”. “Eco-grief ”. “Climate despair”. All phrases becoming more frequently used as we enter the new age of climate breakdown and disaster capitalism. But what do we mean when we use these phrases to describe our responses to our rapidly changing climate and the consequences we face? In 2017, the American Psychological Association published a paper defining “Eco-Anxiety”, as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. While not considered a clinical psychological disorder in itself, psychologists have recognised that climate breakdown has triggered responses of stress and anxiety in patients around the world, exacerbating conditions such as depression and generalised anxiety disorder, and causing others to become distressed, even traumatised by events of climate breakdown. In simple terms, climate change has generated an emotional response in a lot of people. The thought of ecological catastrophe is scary, and as we watch the climate change in real time; through flooding, forest fires, tropical storms and hurricanes, we can see why one may fall into despair. Many people reading this article will likely have already felt some aspects of climate anxiety; symptoms include excessive worrying, fatigue, and an overwhelming sense of dread when considering climate change. It’s not unlike the anxious feelings many have experienced surrounding the pandemic - feelings of uncertainty, not knowing when it will end, how to stay safe and worrying how bad it will get. Interestingly, anxiety (different to anxiety disorders) while unpleasant, is actually considered healthy. Feelings of anxiety are a natural response to a dangerous or stressful situation, and considering the gravity of the climate’s breakdown, it is easy to see that feelings of anxiety are an appropriate response. What is a little more difficult to gauge is how one should manage these feelings of anxiety in a way

that we can acknowledge them, validate them, and move on without letting ourselves fall into despair and get stuck in cycles of perturbation. When learning how to manage climate anxiety, it is important that we learn to recognise such feelings. Feeling extremely worried about things that are completely out of our control, such as climate change is an example. It’s not that it’s unreasonable to worry about climate change, but that excessive worrying will harm our own mental health, and will drain any energy we have to give to the climate movement. So what can we do? Obvious remedies to anxiety that we hear time and time again are exercise, good food, good sleep. And these sure do help! There is also an increasing amount of evidence that eco-therapy can help our levels of resilience, help us cope with trauma, and improve our overall well being. Eco-therapy is a broad term, based on the idea that we are deeply connected to the earth, and that re-establishing and maintaining this connection can be healing. Combined with conventional forms of treatment such as counselling, it’s approved by psychologists world-wide. Outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, foraging, even gardening, are all thought to be effective forms of ecotherapy. Joining a climate activist group may be helpful to meet new people and contribute to the cause; many groups also run eco-grief workshops that can be great for learning to manage climate anxiety. If feelings of anxiety concerning climate change are particularly overwhelming, it’s worth considering talking to a professional, as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is considered a highly effective way of treating climate anxiety. Thinking about what is happening to our natural environment and how it could affect us, especially in a Covid-19 climate, it is easy to become quite scared. As long as there is a fight in us against the government, big industry and the driving forces of climate change, what we cannot let happen, is burnout. Take care of yourself - acknowledge your fear, take a deep breath, and realise your power both individually and as part of the collective. We’ve got this.

FEATURES & OPINIONS | 19


Leo:

As Venus, goddess of love, begins to move back towards the Sun this month, try not to aim too high in your love life. No, really, don't expect anything too spectacular. Even if you try your best, chances are it won't work out. Double the odds if you happen to be a STEM student.

@

Scorpio:

@

Sagittarius:

Mars is getting higher in the sky every night this month. As the god of war approaches opposition, you might find yourself locking horns with some of your acquaintances. It's unlikely that these will escalate to physical conflicts, but... best to be prepared. Just in case.

Motley's Monthly Horoscope

@

Virgo:

This month, you are in the Sun's sphere of influence. I'd put on a lot of suncream, because chances are high that you will be burned. Probably not sunburned, but someone has it in for you. Maybe they're just getting revenge. What goes around comes around.

Jupiter and Saturn are beginning to move closer and closer together, partners in a cosmic dance. This may be a good time to get closer to that person that you've always wanted to get to know better. Like most people, they probably aren't interested in you, but it never hurts to try!

@

Aries:

@

Libra:

@

Aquarius:

@

Taurus:

@

Capricorn:

@

Pisces:

Mystic Mc's Magical Predictions, brought to you by Physics student Cian McDonnell, astronomer and astrologer extraordinaire.

The Perseids meteor shower fades as we move into September. You may find yourself impressing all of your friends in a bright burst of light! Afterwards, though, you will die out and fade back into the background, like a true shooting star. Let's face it, the background is where you really belong.

Born under the sign of the bull, this month you will be headstrong and try your best to get what you want. Maybe that's why everyone will complain about you behind your back. And those complaints will continue even after this month is long gone.

20 | SEPTEMBER 2020

@

Gemini:

@

Cancer:

You will either meet a new friend or re-connect with an old acquaintance. Never mind that this happens basically every month anyway! The more "technically true" statements I put into this column, the more people are convinced that astrology works. And that's all we need, isn't it?

You will probably fail a test. Don't worry, though. It might not be a test in college. It could just be a test of how good a friend you are. Or a test of your social skills. Or even a test of your ability to show basic human decency. Nothing hugely significant, really.

You will make a great achievement - possibly a first for you. Relax and take the time to revel in your victory. After all, the opportunity to celebrate doesn't come up too often for people like you. You may as well make the most of it.

In September, the Sun moves south, past the Equator and towards the Tropic that is named after your sign. Keep that in mind over the next few months, when we have only seven hours of daylight each day, causing low spirits in almost everyone in the country. It's all your fault.

You will have a bad dream that really scares you. You might try to tell a friend about it, but they'll just laugh at you and tell you to stop taking yourself so seriously. On the other hand, dreams have more to do with real life than astrology does, so maybe you shouldn't even be reading this column?

You will realise that the movements of the stars and planets have no impact on the lives of humans whatsoever. Congratulations! You are now free to decide your own fate, without thinking about what some random person said in a magazine. Run far away and don't look back.


UCC

CONFESSION My Summer Job 2020

Motley Magazine presents a new section, a once a month, spill your guts anonymous article called UCC’s Confession - an homage to the much-loved Twitter page. This month, a confessor discusses what it’s like to be a female weed dealer.

I

n Irish culture, weed has been increasingly normalized through the nonchalance of stoners lighting up on Patrick Street or politicians using it as a ploy to gain relevance among young voters. Considering the high demand, it’s hard to believe that cannabis is still illegal in 2020. The only available suppliers work in the illicit and non-taxable drug market. Therefore, that’s where one must go, knocking on Mr Drug Dealer's door. The exchange, often in the company of a boisterous entourage, can be unnerving and intimidating, and prompt a quick exit. I was reluctant to go to these houses, take spins in random cars, and meet strangers outside the Lemon Tree on a Sunday afternoon. As a woman, I felt vulnerable. Girls like to smoke weed as well; I couldn’t be the only woman who faced these barriers to access. I was pandemically unemployed and lacking mental stimulation, I decided to get weed for the ladies of the “rebel county” myself. Once it was sourced, I initially targeted friends, then friends of friends, and so on. I wanted to provide a comfortable profemale space and, most importantly, quality product. And like any savvy business person, I didn’t limit my customers by gender. All are welcome. Dealing to men was a new experience for me. Staring at me and thinking “it can't be her, women don’t deal”. Fabulously dressed in my eccentric ensemble of the day, I would wait till they crossed the road and say hello. When they approached the atmosphere shifted, eyes widened and fists clenched, I remained unconcerned. They were intimidated by me. As a twenty-something girl who never forgot to smile at a cashier or nod to an elderly neighbour, I was always considered friendly and harmless. But the title of “Dealer” gave me control despite gender normalities. In those moments I was empowered. As an experience, my summer job has memories of adrenaline-filled euphoria, cycling with thousands of euros of drugs on main roads while waving innocently at passersby. I felt exhilarated and fearless. Quite equally, I experienced paranoia and panic at the wailing of a nearby siren. The

rollercoaster was intense; I was on a teacup ride in the drug industry funfair. Eventually, through self-education, I realized that selling illegal drugs, even with a feminist agenda, contributed to an exploitative and discriminative industry. As a privileged white woman, I learned I was blind to challenges facing marginalized communities in the cannabis market. Queer and trans people can feel intimidated by large groups of lads; people of color frequently face racial profiling and discrimination; physically disabled people can have limited mobility and transport access, and neurodiverse people’s communication often differs from neurotypicals. Essentially the more intersectional you are, the harder it is to buy a bag in Cork. This all originates, of course from Richard Nixon’s 1970s “War on Drugs”. A malicious attempt to imprison and demonize African Americans, Gays, and hippies, all stereotyped for marijuana use and, more importantly, liberal ideologies. His “war” prompted today’s disgusting prison industrial complex in the U.S. This problem is not unique to the United States. Europe's American infatuation has influenced our government to enforce strict criminalization of cannabis. There are inconsistent penalties in Ireland, seemingly at each officer’s discretion, ignorance of the scope and means of drug trafficking, and a complete lack of community compassion for addicts. The system has failed. Legalisation isn’t the end of the road to cannabis justice though - in the US, states which have legalised marijuana have found that less than 20 percent of marijuana businesses are owned by minorities. So now what? I’d say just legalize it; guarantee safe access for all, tax for the government, and everyone can get a little baked.

DISCLAIMER Motley Magazine as an entity, through its contributors, and through its editorial staff takes no official position on drug policy. Motley does not condone nor condemn drug use and takes no responsibility for the individual, private and adult choices made by students at UCC, by our larger readership and by private citizens. Motley asserts its right to journalistic privilege as it pertains to this article and its source.

FEATURES & OPINIONS | 21


An for the NIAMH BROWNE PROFFERS A EULOGY TO THE MINI-BREAK, WITH CHARACTERISTICALLY ACERBIC WIT AND COMEDIC WHIMSY.

I stand here at the altar of hypocrisy and loudly proclaim:

“DEATH TO THE RYANAIR WEEKEND MINI-BREAK! SHE FUCKING SUCKS!” This is the pinnacle of white middle-class problems and for that I am certainly guilty, indulging in the cheeky weekend away myself. I once went to Dusseldorf for 16 hours because the flights were a tenner return. I visited Liverpool for a weekend on a €25 return ticket. I am the problem. And, before I go in any deeper, I know

22 | SEPTEMBER 2020

that 70 per cent of fossil fuel emissions come from 100 major corporations. Personal choice isn’t the only thing that matters in the face of climate action. In fact, it probably matters very very little. However, the average carbon footprint of an Irish person is 13 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the EU average is 8.8 and an Indian person, a third of that. It’s

clear we need to change something. We simply cannot maintain our lifestyle as is, and an enormous part of that is how we spend our leisure time. An island with shite weather: it’s easy to see why we might be culpable for taking more flights than the average European who is attached to a continent with lots of lovely trains. Yes, part of it is not our fault. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do something about it. The Guardian wrote an article to this effect, “Why I Only Take One Holiday Flight a Year”. It raised the valid point that we take too many flights. The comments were angry, very very angry. With people talking about how a carbon tax on flights, (meaning you will be taxed on the carbon of your flights), will not stop flights but merely make poor people unable to travel. This is also a valid point, there is no point stopping workingclass people from holidaying abroad if middle-class people, who already are the biggest carbon criminals, can still go. There is now a new dimension to all of this; disease control. I never thought something as all-encompassing as Coronavirus would swoop in and change the world. Not with such immediate effect at least. With Covid-19, it’s not responsible to travel currently. More particularly

short term travelling is immoral if it is not essential. Which brings us to what the future of travel may look like. I think the past is as good an indicator as to what sustainable travel might look like, and I think it’s slow and expensive. Sigh. I do feel an odd sort of lament for the fact that my early 20s will be spent trying to negate the negative effects of climate change. I’ve reduced my meat and dairy consumption and I try to shop sustainably, but now a lifestyle that was sold to us as an integral part of your development travelling, has to be altered. Now that’s probably the most entitled thing I have ever said because it’s not a human fucking right to travel, and nor is it a fundamental part of your development. In fact, most people like to travel because of the craic. A lot of these travelling experiences end up being how many cities you’ve seshed in. We will now need to spend more time and more money for the “travel experience” and maybe that will make it more life-altering and profound, the fact that you really savour new places when you can go and see them. Then again, maybe you don’t need to travel for these profound experiences. Jane Austen never left her village for Christs’ sake, and she’s considered to have some of the greatest insight into the human condition of all time. For now, however, let me have a mope that I can’t see major European cities for the price of a substantial meal. R.I.P. Mini breaks- you were class. Staycations are here to stay (lol).


POETRY DARRAGH Ó' CAOIMH

Fuíollach Fadó dhein Íosa Bia a sholáthar Dos na sluaite A bhí i láthair Chun a theagasc A chlos Thug dóibh Builíní aráin Is bascaedaí Lán trosc. Níos mó de phlaisteach Sa bhfarraige ná d’éisc; Dé-ocsaíd charbóin á scaoileadh go tréan: Cleasanna iolraithe dár gcuid féin.

FEATURES & OPINIONS | 23


HOW CAN WE ETHICALLY CONSUME UNDER ‘It’s okay, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism anyways” is a mantra that I usually hear in response to a person being told that their indulgence in fast fashion is harmful to the environment. The term “fast fashion” refers to inexpensive, often low-w quality pieces of clothing that are rapidly massproduced to cater to evolving fashion trends. Textile manufacturing is one of the leading contributors to carbon dioxide emissions, partly because fast fashion companies cut costs by outsourcing their labour to factories in developing countries, such as Bangladesh, where employees are paid less than minimum wage. Subsequently, clothing from Penneys, SHEIN, or Romwe has to be shipped internationally to Europe or North America via aircraft,

24 | SEPTEMBER 2020

leading to increased levels of air pollution. The flimsy, paper-thin blouses are manufactured using cheap, synthetic fibers containing microplastics, so when the unsold overstock is inevitably dumped into a landfill, those microplastics remain there for years, unable to decompose. “There is no ethical consumption under capitalism” stems from a couple of core beliefs, one being that capitalism is an intrinsically flawed and inherently unethical economic system because it’s driven by profit, meaning that many companies are willing to exploit their

CAPI Deputy Editor-in-Chief Molly Kavanagh examines workers or cause irreparable damage to the environment if it means cutting their manufacturing costs. The second belief is that the burden of responsibility for ending climate change should be placed on the one hundred corporations that are responsible for seventy percent of the world’s carbon emissions, rather than on the shoulder of ordinary members of the working class. As in, rather than encouraging consumers to purchase reusable coffee mugs or adopt a vegan diet, we should target companies for manufacturing styrofoam cups and partaking in unsustainable agricultural practices in the first place. Sustainably manufactured clothing does exist. However, it’s incredibly expensive and most people, including myself, wouldn’t have thirty euro to spend on a shirt made from 100% recycled materials. That’s why I’m inclined to agree that there is no ethical consumption under capitalism- a businesses’ desire for sustainability and accessibility will always be second to their desire (and need) for profit.

Similarly, it’s reductive and counterintuitive to criticize members of the working class for purchasing fast fashion, since it’s not their fault that the only clothing that is affordable and accessible to them also happens to be so harmful to the environment. As a result, thrift shopping has seen a recent surge in popularity, with apps like Depop becoming more widely used as second-hand shops and vintage kilo sales pop up all over the city. Our perception of thrift shopping has shifted from being a symbol of poverty and a source of shame for many to being something that is considered “trendy.” People aren’t necessarily thrifting out of necessity, but because older styles are coming back into fashion and thrifters are on the hunt for unique, one of a kind pieces that can’t be found in fast fashion retailers. But no industry is immune from exploitation or price gouging, with Depop sellers famously purchasing clothing for a couple of euro from thrift shops and reselling them for twenty euro or more. Similarly, it sometimes seems as if


ITALISM? the dilemma of ethical consumption within the constraints of a capitalist society. inexpensive charity shops are becoming more and more sparse, replaced by boutiques that sell vintage sweaters or jackets for twenty, thirty, or forty euro. While thrifting itself isn’t unethical, there’s no denying that thrift shopping is becoming gentrified. There have also been concerns that thrift shops might raise their prices due to increased demand for secondhand clothing, and that there might not be enough clothing left in the shops for those who truly need them. The counterargument is that this would never happen because thrift stores often receive far more donations than they could ever feasibly sell. Fashion trends evolve so rapidly that people are buying and

discarding clothes more than ever before, meaning that textile waste is quickly becoming a larger issue as garments that can’t be resold are cluttering our landfills that are already bursting at the seams. So if there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, perhaps the solution is just to stop consuming. We spend so much time arguing back and forth about how we can ethically procure clothing without asking ourselves if we should even be procuring that clothing in the first place- maybe we should normalize having a more limited wardrobe, and not buying new clothes when we already have perfectly good clothes that we never wear. If we can agree that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, then we should understand that halting our

consumption entirely is a perfectly valid solution. Saying “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” is valid in many instances, but used as an excuse in many other instances- you don’t need that blouse from Penney’s, and you don’t need those trousers from SHEIN. Similarly, you may not need that jacket from the secondhand shop, but considering that it might end up in a landfill if you don’t buy it, that consumption might be a little more ethical. But even though thrift stores receive a surplus of clothing doesn’t mean you should have free rein to snatch up every beautiful garment because it was a “great find” and you “couldn’t not get it”- sure, the people who actually rely on thrift shopping could buy something else, but lowincome families shouldn’t have to wear the “ugly” or illfitting garments that are the

wealthy-college-studentwho-enjoys-thrifting’s rejects. Obviously, you can do whatever you’d like, but it’s food for thought. And we shouldn’t use the fact that ethical consumption under capitalism is impossible as an excuse to not at least try to help the environment in any way we can. COVID-19 has helped us understand the concept of exponential growth- the idea that a single case of COVID-19 can rapidly expand into thousands. It took sixtyseven days for the amount of worldwide COVID-19 cases to reach 100,000. The second 100,000 cases took 11 days, and the third 100,000 took only four days. So perhaps we could apply this same model to the spread of ideas, and how practicing more environmentally friendly habits could impact how the habits of your friends, and how their habits can impact the habits of their other friends, and so on. Perhaps there’s still hope, and resigning ourselves to failure, to the idea that nothing we do will help, so why even try, isn’t a very good mindset.

FEATURES & OPINIONS | 25


POETRY DARRAGH Ó' CAOIMH

Fuíollach Níor dhearúd an t-uisce, An bradán ná an breac, An saileach, an crann darach, Níor dhearúdadar. Ná níor dhearúd an corr réisc, An caonach, na feithidí; Is na dúilicíiní fionnuisce, Ba bhuan a gcuimhne-san. Ach dhearúdamarna. Raghad anois go dtín Sean-chúirt, Caisleán na gCarathach cois Ealla, Go suífead ann le hais an fhalla; cluas a thabhairt don uisce ceolmhar, is cuimhne abhann á roinnt liom.

26 | SEPTEMBER 2020


Entertaiment

M S I L A T N E M N O R I V S T N R E O P S E IN

ugita

yQues

ith Fl rview w

Inte

Tricia S O E C s t’

JACK COLEMAN INTERVIEWS THE CEO OF FLYQUEST, TRICIA SUGITA, AND EXAMINES THE CLIMATE CONSCIOUS POLICIES THAT HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED IN THE ESPORTS TEAM SINCE HER ELEVATION TO HER NEW ROLE.

E

sports is awash with venture capital. According to Forbes, the most valuable organisations in esports are now worth over $400 million. As a result of all this new investment, the industry has become an interesting case study for the creation of new brands. When competitions like the Overwatch League seek to emulate other franchised sports leagues like the National Football League (NFL) by enforcing a level of uniformity among their team’s branding, it can be difficult to stand out. How different is the Hangzhou Spark from the Guangzhou Charge for example? This problem isn’t unique to Overwatch, there have been plenty of forgettable brands in League of Legends too. Joining the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in 2017, FlyQuest was arguably one of these brands. With a strange logo and a name that held little significance, many people took to calling the

team “Cloud 9 White” due to its roster previously playing as members of Cloud 9’s second team. The team’s identity changed little over the next two years competing in the LCS. As a middle to bottom-level team resultswise, they weren’t known for the quality of their play. A large sponsorship with Snickers earned some bemusement from the community. The popularity of player Jason “WildTurtle” Tran was the team’s primary appeal. Though people would often profess to be a fan of WildTurtle, not many would claim to be a fan of FlyQuest itself. The team lacked identity. That was until the beginning of the 2020 season when company COO Tricia Sugita was promoted to CEO, and FlyQuest’s “Go Green” initiatives were pushed to the forefront of the team’s marketing. As this month’s issue of Motley Magazine is themed around the climate emergency, I interviewed

Tricia about FlyQuest’s new environmentalist streak, and the other worthy causes the organisation is championing. Tricia has had a long career in esports, witnessing first hand the incredible growth of the industry over the last decade. Beginning as a prolific Starcraft player during esports’ emerging years, Tricia went on to work for large companies in the space like Azubu and Immortals before joining FlyQuest in 2018: “For me, personally, I’ve been involved in esports for over a decade now, so compared to then, esports has advanced quite a bit. Before the zoomer days, esports used to be heavily localized, with only a few opportunities for national, let alone global competition. A lot of it has to do with money, of course, as do most things of this nature. First, we had a lot of passion, then

we had a lot of fans; with fans came eyeballs, and with eyeballs come dollars. With dollars, we saw the big names enter the field. Video games and esports became the lucrative market. I love getting to say this every time but the League of Legends World Championship brings in Superbowl levels of viewership. That’s where we’re at now, and that’s awesome.” Under the leadership of Tricia, FlyQuest introduced several green initiatives to celebrate and preserve the natural world. TreeQuest was a creative initiative where the organisation would plant trees, the number of which correlated with their team’s performance in-game. For example, one kill for a FlyQuest player would result in one tree being planted. In addition, the team’s training facility is

ENTERTAINMENT | 27


known as “The Greenhouse,” as it is blanketed in beautiful flowers and the team competes in stylish floral jerseys to match. For the Summer Split (the secondhalf of an LCS season), FlyQuest introduced SeaQuest, a similar initiative to TreeQuest but with the proceeds going to the Coral Reef Alliance, a charity which aims to preserve the world’s coral reefs. To celebrate this initiative, FlyQuest created the LCS aquarium, a saltwater aquarium with various creatures that are being livestreamed on Twitch 24/7. When asked if these changes were a result of her personal philosophy, Tricia answered that the mantra of “Showcase Greatness” has guided the company since 2018, but only now are they excelling in displaying this to the wider community: “Showcase Greatness means we believe that greatness already exists within everyone, and we want to help them find and showcase it. We believe greatness manifests in many different ways, whether it’s winning in games, being really passionate in your work, or even just lending a helping hand to others. Our vision gave us purpose and direction. Everything

we did was in support of our company’s vision and it helped us create a strong, healthy company culture united under one goal. We were able to achieve alignment internally and that vision manifested itself in everything we did from hiring, our viewing parties, to women’s merch and career workshops. It makes things simpler, but not easier. Before I was promoted to CEO, I learned that while internally… we had our North Star of Showcase Greatness that gave us clear direction, we needed to put the same energy into sharing our vision externally as we did internally.” Delving deeper into the community’s perception of FlyQuest prior to 2020, I asked Tricia how she felt about the community’s praise for the organisation’s new direction: “As CEO, my priority is to share our vision so that everyone knows that what we do always has a purpose and ties back to our vision, Showcase Greatness. We did a much better job this year in showing everyone exactly what this means, with our initiatives like GoGreen, TreeQuest, and SeaQuest. I think finally we are associated with what we set out to be, and it’s a great feeling.” After the great

success of TreeQuest, I wondered if there was a reason why the organisation switched its strategy to saving the corals in Summer Split: “Nothing specific other than the fact that we knew we wanted to go with the seas during Summer Split. We set out with two central awareness campaigns in mind for this split - one for saving the coral reef and one for plastic reduction. Our in-game focus made more sense with the coral reef due to its similarity with planting trees with TreeQuest, while plastic reduction awareness was raised in other ways.” FlyQuest is showing that an organisation can use its branding and marketing for good causes, and perhaps most importantly, that the community will reward these efforts. When I asked Tricia if there was more scope for improving the planet through esports, she responded enthusiastically: “For sure if anyone out there wanted to help, whether it was the LCS, an esports organization, or even an individual, we believe that they already have the ability to affect our planet in a positive way. Finding that ability, harnessing it, and showcasing it is our mission here at FlyQuest. It would be fantastic if everyone could

use any available resources for the good of this planet.” FlyQuest has taken the rare step in esports of reaching out to university students around California in order to encourage them to pursue careers in esports. As Motley is a student magazine, we were interested in knowing if encouraging students was a core philosophy of the organisation: “Definitely, we want young talented people to pursue careers in esports, because that’s how we grow organically. Even if not pursuing a career directly at FlyQuest, we’re always happy to help pave the way for successful futures in esports.” It’s clear to me that Tricia and FlyQuest are dedicated to using their platform to support positive causes, environmental and otherwise. It is perhaps good karma that the 2020 season has brought FlyQuest its best ever results in the league. After finishing runnersup in both the Spring and Summer Splits, the FlyQuest will be representing North America as the LCS’s second seed during the 2020 League of Legends World Championships in Shanghai. To end the interview on a more lighthearted note, I asked Tricia what her favourite fish in the LCS aquarium is: “Kobe! For those who don’t know, we named him Kobe because of his purple and gold colours, and we wanted to pay respects to the late great Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant, who passed away earlier this year. As a Los Angeles native, I’ve always respected the Mamba Mentality and strive to emulate his work ethic!” GO GREEN!

FLYQUEST'S NEW JERSEY DESIGN BOASTS BEAUTY, GROWTH AND STRENGTH


ART

THE

OF

Impact KANE GEARY O’KEEFE HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF CLIMATE-CONSCIOUS ARTS THROUGH THE PANDEMIC AND OFFERS A REVIEW OF THE BOOKS, FILMS AND MUSIC THAT KEPT HIM SANE, IN AN ALL TOO INSANE TIME.

Books

From young adult fiction to hardcover non fiction, climate change is more obviously threaded through modern literature than ever. It can be quite daunting to face a brick of a book when engaging with a new topic (remember first year, anybody?). However, even smaller and more accessible titles hold a wealth of learning for those who indulge in them. Take Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Prodigal Summer for example. Telling three interwoven stories of love and loss in rural Virginia, the book is laden with many ecological concepts and biological facts. A great nonfiction gateway can be found in David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth. The book encompasses a broad range of terrifying scenarios to which global warming may bring us in the future, all within a brisk 300 or so pages.

PICTURED:

NATIVE AMERICAN RAPPER XIUHTEZCATL

Music

Those seeking a more digestible piece of entertainment such as a song need only look towards up and coming rapper Xiuhtezcatl, whose hard hitting, environmentally charged lyrics have already landed him features with the likes of Jaden Smith. UK rock band Foals are also well known for engaging with environmental themes, seen most prominently on their album Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.

S

peaking from experience, I consumed more media during our national lockdown this year than healthy meals. The arts endure a harsh glance when ranking the pillars of human experience. This glance develops into less government funding in the arts than other major schools. Ireland’s Covid19induced quarantine illuminated many to the importance of the arts in the modern day. As millions remained stuck at home for weeks, it was film, literature (baking recipes count), and music that kept us tethered to sanity. Due to the fact that these coming months seem set to continue our dependence on the arts to get us through working from home, it’s never been a better time to observe how instrumental the arts are in communicating important themes and messages to the masses in innovative and entertaining ways. Keeping in line with this issue’s theme of climate change, I’ve turned my eyes over the last few weeks towards the media that proves that getting educated in our world’s most pressing issues has never been easier, nor more essential.

Film

With this rise in streaming service popularity over recent months and a demand for home entertainment in general, I sought to find movies that serve to both entertain and educate their viewers about our planet’s deteriorating health. Some fantastic examples include the modern classic An Inconvenient Truth, hosted by former US Vice-President Al Gore. The film shares an accessible narrative about the dangers of carbon emissions. Taking a nature focused viewpoint, Netflix documentary Chasing Coral sheds a light on the dying ecosystems of our oceans’ great reefs, complete with stunning aquatic imagery. Turning an eye away from the documentary format toward films that use an ecologically aware backdrop to explore more intimate fictional narratives, we can find examples such as Snowpiercer starring Chris Evans. Snowpiercer uses a manmade climate disaster to explore class divide on an intimate scale. Psychological thriller First Reformed explores the emotional trials faced by an aging priest. He is tasked with helping a man whose anxiety around welcoming a child into a world ravaged by pollution is threatening to tear his family apart. Through both fiction and nonfiction, viewers are spoiled for choice in regards to finding ecologically minded cinematic entertainment.

ENTERTAINMENT | 29


Review

folklore Taylor Swift The Epidemic of Her Not-So-Swift Recovery Album

I

used to hate her too, you know. I hated the twangy banjos, the breathy, somewhat-squalid vocals, the shimmering pink feminine facade of it all. But summer 2012 changed that. I had just learned how to pirate-copy CDs from my local library (yes, Sandra Bullock from The Net come at me with your floppy disks), one such CD that slipped into my borrow list was Taylor Swift’s fourth album Red. I became obsessed with bangers like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “22” and I cried my heart out to “Treacherous” and “All Too Well” as if I knew what love was, never mind having been in love. For a 13-year-old, Red was beyond deep- it was every love story and heartbreak you’d heard your big sister tell you about; the fights on the other side of the

30 | SEPTEMBER 2020

kitchen door you listened to, but never acknowledged. It was the anxiety of wanting to be loved when you so clearly didn’t love yourself. I went to two of her concert-experiences; glowing bracelets, unparalleled merch-stands, hoards of screaming teenage girls (and parents that loved them unconditionally to sit through four hours of snots and tears), people hung-up on the broken promises of someone else’s love story. I suppose that’s what music is though, holding onto flakes of other people’s rusted locks. I cried. I screamed. I lost my voice. I quite literally bought the t-shirt, the posters, the deluxe albums- I bought into her. My obsession grew. From heated Facebook debates to college PowerPoints, Taylor Swift became that surprising joke about me. That I, with

REVIEWED BY ALANA DALY MULLIGAN

all my taste for literature and the arts, liked Taylor Alison Swift unironically. It was hurled at me during breakups; “How did we ever get along? You used to listen to HER!” as well as something very-wise and super-deep male musicians would use to slag me off “Sure you listen to Taylor Swift, how could you even compare her to someone like [insert obscure indie singer who sounds like they gargle glass and washing machine tablets while playing their hipster cello guitar]?” But Swift’s most recent offering was a supposed brain-child of the pandemic, which I’m sure a significant number of people were more than happy to socially distance from. folklore (yes, stylised lowercase to piss-off litlovers and English students everywhere) harks back to her pre-1989 phase, but with

more synths and an increase on the bland. Since the beginning, I’ve thought her venture into the world of pop was too far from what she can get away with - which is whining. folklore is trying to be a lot of things: before it tries to be a piece of art, it’s trying to make up for the awards-flop that was Lover. Surprisingly, it was the first time I really understood that Swift could release audio recordings of her defecating into a sink, sell eight different versions with exclusive polaroids inside, and they would still sell- her music no longer matters because there’s a cult-culture around Swift’s albums that hasn’t been paralleled in decades. Lover was a mishmash of unflattering pop tracks that seemed to be so clearly pumped out as a giant middle-finger to her former label Big Machine


Records. But credit where it's due to folklore, it feels like a complete body of work; meant to be together, and for that, Swift gets points. The album is also merited for being the work Swift should have launched her new life as an artist under the Universal Music Group with, but it’s also understandable why she didn’t- it does make you want to dig a pit and sit in it while shoveling shit in on top of yourself. When it comes to the substance of the album, there’s not much. It’s one of her first albums where she creates characters outside herself- a welcome artistic change from thinly-veiled tales and threats of her lovelife. It’s also symbolic of Swift yet again changing genres, now making the slight bootyshuffle back into folk music, which as you can imagine, is not the booty-shuffling kind of genre. Her collaboration with Bon Iver on the track “exile” is one that turned heads, but in my view, it’s a lazier version of “The Last Time” with Gary Lightbody from the Red album. What I do love is the bridge of the song, but waiting two-and-ahalf minutes for the song to interest me is two-and-a-half minutes too long. It feels like two different musical ideas that for some reason Swift couldn’t fit on her alreadyoverkill 18-track deluxe album. This album also has a wicked bang of white feminist off it, nothing new from Swift but nonetheless, a bit of a head wreck. After last year’s “You Need To Calm Down,” I couldn’t tolerate her minority-group pandering to sell records and

be woke any longer. Songs like “the last great american dynasty” and “mad woman” know exactly what they’re doing: representing the demonisation of women, but very particular types of women; the former chronicling the life of infamous arts patron Rebekah Harkness, the latter discussing Swift and people like me who comment on her “24 karat dream” lifestyle. God forbid I as a woman criticise Swift when she is talking about important struggles of (white, uppermiddle class and upper class) people. She’s quick to queer-bait with tracks like “betty”, and speak to the moment of the pandemic with “epiphany,” but if she really is practising what she preaches, where’s the commentary on other issues? An ode to the environment would be fitting given the whole album is centred around folklore, something that’s spun the natural world. And if she’s so keen to speak to the social disruptions of now, what about something telling the story of Black Lives Matter or the plight of indigenous people all over the United States – again, two cultural groups that carry with them their own unique folklore and stories. Giving artists from these groups a platform on her album could have been a valuable exercise in Swift both being original and being the activist she attempts to be. Action should not take place in Twitter threads alone, and while I understand there is work to be done there also, Swift is vastly underusing her platform for

consistent impactful change while manipulating her impressionable supporter group, and for that, I can no longer respect what she represents. As for the rest of the album, it’s forgettable. I’m not saying that to be lazy, but there is very little stylistically interesting about it. Her single release “cardigan” undoubtedly has some beautiful lines in it, but I think it shows us that Swift has eyesight, a knack for shopping lists, and perhaps read J.M. Barry growing up, rather than show us that she has a capability to craft meaningful lyrics. With that said, the influence of popular folk artists over the last few years can be heard across the record. She did her homework and for that, I’ll give her credit. Despite my slating, which probably comes more from feeling very disappointed in Swift’s questionable moral compass than the musical composition (I am the Current Affairs Editor after all), I do quite like the album, because every song fits. It’s not necessarily feel good, but I’d listen to it cleaning dishes or hanging out washing. It’s mindless. As I write the end of this article, I’m listening to folklore and staring at my Taylor Swift poster, thinking of how I can do that lost little girl holding the Red album in her hands justice. I’ll just have to wait and see what Swift produces next if she can win me back like James tries to win back Betty. But at this point, it seems Taylor is as much of a “hoax” as the concluding track of her album.

ENTERTAINMENT | 31


Funny & Fabulous

Motley Speaks to Kevin & PJ of the “I’m Grand Mam” Podcast REBECKAH MCCARTHY SPEAKS TO THE EFFERVESCENT DUO KEVIN AND PJ OF THE “I’M GRAND MAM” PODCAST ABOUT LIVING IT LARGE IN LONDON, GAINING A CULT FOLLOWING AND HOW PODCASTERS AS INFLUENCERS HAVE A DUTY TO USE THEIR PLATFORM TO CALL FOR GREATER ECO-CONSCIOUSNESS.

SecondHand September in an attempt to cut down on fast fashion, as we know that the industry is the secondhighest consumer of water worldwide. We’re quite privileged in London though as we’ve unreal vintage

I’M GRAND MAM IS A PODCAST THAT WAS CREATED BY TWO FABULOUS LADS WHO ORIGINATE FROM CORK BUT NOW RESIDE IN LONDON. EACH WEEK, KEVIN AND PJ MEET UP FOR A CUP OF COFFEE TO DISCUSS THE HOT TOPICS THAT ARE BUZZING AROUND US EACH DAY.

E

ach episode by Kevin and PJ is full of laughs, and within one episode, you’re hooked. If you’re looking for an exceptional “woke” Irish podcast, then this one is for you. During their hiatus, I was lucky enough to get in contact with the pair for our climate emergency issue to ask them a few questions about climate

32 | SEPTEMBER 2020

change, COVID-19, and their upcoming shows. To begin, I questioned the pair about their personal contributions to a more sustainable environment: “We’d both like to think that we’re quite climate-conscious. We both owned Keep Cups before they were cool and are all about that oat milk life. We’re both taking part in

and charity shops on our doorstep, and you’re almost guaranteed to find some stunning bits anytime you go for a peruse. But also like, we’re by no means perfect.” The COVID-19 pandemic is obviously the topic dominating every aspect of our lives at the moment, so I was curious to know if COVID-19 had impacted the pair’s future

episodes, or if perhaps quarantine was a silver lining for them. “Initially when we first went into lockdown it was a massive ball-ache as we had our entire season planned out at a glance based around different events which were due to take place but were then canceled. For example, Kev was going to Rotterdam for Eurovision and we were doing an episode on that as it’s like, the gayest event of the year and we’d big plans for pride also. So we had to think on our feet. As things progress, I think it’s just a case of us having to learn to adapt. People want to forget about all that when they listen to us. Corona? Who is she? Never heard of her, love.” When asked if the pandemic would affect their ability to travel and put on shows, they quipped back cheekily: “Oh babe, we’re both versatile queens. We will definitely adapt.”


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the livelihoods of many people who work within the entertainment & art sectors:

“IT'S SCARY TO THINK ABOUT AS SO MANY OF OUR FRIENDS ARE EMPLOYED IN THE ARTS, AND SEEING THEM SUFFER OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAS BEEN HEART-BREAKING. WE'RE QUITE POSITIVE PEOPLE BUT WE KNOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO GET ITS HEAD OUT OF ITS ARSE AND SORT THEIR SHIT OUT TO TRY AND HELP GET THINGS BACK ON TRACK." Perhaps a positive of the COVID-19 crisis is that society will realise just how important the arts and entertainment industries actually are: “The arts are often a neglected industry and the last few months has reinforced just how important having art in our lives is. It’s a sector which

is sometimes deemed nonessential, but that couldn't be further from the truth. When museums, galleries, and theatres went dark, we looked to TV, music, film, and podcasts to feel connected. Watching shows like I May Destroy You, the BBC drama by Michaela Cole, and Normal People by Sally Rooney over lockdown was a highlight for both of us… So many people messaged us over the last few months telling us the podcast was the one thing they looked forward to in the week. Art is transformative which sounds a bit dramatic but it’s true.” Everyone is dealing with quarantine in their own way. I asked if Kevin and PJ used popular coping mechanisms, such as baking banana bread or learning how to make “Tik Tok Coffee,” or if they had their own routines they used to stay sane: “Though we’ve lived in East London for two years, we haven’t done that much exploring on foot, so the daily walks down by the canal and Hackney Wick were gorge. Also, we’ve a lovely roof area where we were able to lie out in the sun or do yoga bits. No baking was done really as every time

we went to get the eggs there were none to be found- like what was that about? No Tik Tok coffees but Kevin did learn the Hollaback Girl routine but never posted it because we were up in a heap.” I was curious where Kevin and PJ found their inspiration, especially considering their unwavering enthusiasm: “Our experience growing up in Ireland is at the heart of what we talk about. So it’s very nostalgic, very 90’s and very gay.” I also enquired about whether they had been struck by any brain waves regarding their next season: “For season four we’re looking to do an experience every month and are going to base each episode on that experience. So for example, we’d go to an orgy and say how we got on (we’re not going to an orgy it was just an example).” When Kevin and PJ aren’t splitting our sides, what are they into? “So we’ve just bought our first T.V and are loving watching bits together - we just finished Selling Sunset and we’re obsessed, and now we’ve moved on to The Fall. PJ’s an unreal cook so we have lovely meals together or if

we’re eating out we love a pad thai from Rosa’s. Also, we’ve a really solid friendship group here in London, so meeting them for a coffee or a gin & tonic is always on the cards. And obviously FaceTiming our mothers”. To close the interview, I asked what the pair had in mind for the podcast in the immediate future: “To continue having a scream and making people laugh. We both still work full-time so ideally, we’d like to cut down hours to focus on putting out more content. We were toying with the idea of releasing an album filled with a load of gay bops. We started writing a song over lockdown called “Fast Lane,” which is inspired by homos being quicker at walking than their hetero counterparts. Also TV, films, music videos, book deals the sky’s the limit girlie!” Season four of I’m Grand Mam started on September 6th with “Mwah Mwah!” You can listen to I’m Grand Mam on Podtail, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. You can also give them a follow on Instagram and Twitter @Imgrandmam for more chaotic Cork content.

ENTERTAINMENT | 33


Daniel Bryan ENVIRONMENTALISM JACK COLEMAN FINDS SUPPORT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE MOST UNLIKELY OF VENUES: THE WWE.

I

n a political climate where multinational corporations are desperate to convince the public that they do in fact care about sustainability and the environment (as they continue to pollute it), it isn’t often that environmentalism is portrayed as a negative. We’ve passed the point of climate change denial and have entered into the age of corporations praising environmental activism while they attempt to minimise their own involvement in our current climate crisis. This is why it interested me greatly when World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) rebranded one of their most popular stars as an ultraenvironmentalist. Dramatic changes in character are nothing new in professional wrestling. Some of the most famous moments in wrestling history have been “heel-turns.” Hulk Hogan emerging as Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s mystery partner at Bash at the Beach 1996 and forming the New World Order (nWo) is an iconic

34 | SEPTEMBER 2020

moment that transcended wrestling and became wellknown in the mainstream. The interesting part about the new-look Daniel Bryan wasn’t that a beloved character was now suddenly evil, but that his “nefarious scheme” was saving the planet. To understand the motivation for this change, we must first look at the real-life human behind the character, Bryan Danielson. Before joining WWE, Bryan was a high-profile wrestler on the independent scene, an “indie-darling” as wrestlers with this status are often referred to as. Bryan got his first full-run in WWE in 2010 (he worked there briefly but was released and then re-hired) and immediately won over the crowd. He would continue to be a popular figure in the WWE throughout the years, working as both a heel and as a babyface. His popularity peaked during Wrestlemania XXX when he was crowned WWE champion after winning two matches against all odds.

TURNS HEEL

In 2014, Danielson married his partner, fellow wrestler Brie Bella. As Bella was starring on the E! reality television show Total Divas, Bryan’s personal life and offscreen personality were made more visible to fans. Danielson is a stereotypical environmentalist - he’s a vegetarian (previously a vegan), prefers a quiet countryside life, and is enthusiastic about flannel. His hippy-like antics are well-documented on Total Divas so fans know exactly the kind of person Bryan is outside his character. Danielson had all the right real-life traits to convincingly portray a holier-than-thou environmentalist on-screen. Though professional wrestling has a large and diverse following these days, the traditional wrestling fan was usually a working-class white family,

often with conservative leanings. Having this demographic dominating their base is what allowed WWE to craft cliché heroes and villains over the years. Characters like The Iron Sheik, Ivan Koloff, and Rusev were stereotypical foreign invaders- they hated the United States and were there to threaten the American way of life. These characters were effective heels, getting the crowd riled up and causing them to chant “U-S-A, U-S-A!” as their nationalism kicked into overdrive. This demographic


still makes up part of the WWE fanbase today, which is what makes an unlikeable environmentalist character such an effective heel. Daniel Bryan returned from his injuryinduced early retirement after being cleared by several experts. He had his brief feelgood babyface feud against The Miz before eventually winding up in a match for the WWE Championship against AJ Styles on an episode of SmackDown Live! Bryan emerged from this bout victorious but only after cheating to win. His actions would go unexplained until the next episode of the show. On that next Tuesday night, Daniel Bryan strolled out to face “these people” wearing a flannel shirt and a knitted sweater. He talked about the death of the “old” Daniel Bryan and the birth of the “new” Daniel Bryan. There were hints of the character he was going to become, but nothing overtly environmentalist was included in his promos yet. It wasn’t until the January 8th, 2019 episode of SmackDown Live!

where Bryan’s transformation was completed with a legendary promo. Bryan appears at the front of the arena and stands in front of a heckling crowd at the concession stand. He speaks to the camera, berating viewers for their rampant consumerism which is hurting their own wellbeing and also the wellbeing of the planet. He tears a hot dog out of a man’s hand and throws it back in his face. He then moves to another planted fan and snatches their drink, driven to rage by the plastic cup and straw. Bryan throws the drink at the man while screaming “FICKLE!” over and over again. He then enters the arena through the crowd while denigrating the fans around him, calling them “submissive, impotent and weak.” Just like that, WWE used Daniel Bryan’s real-life personality to create a pretentious and preachy environmentalist heel. This aspect of his character would only escalate and intensify from here. On the January 29th episode of SmackDown Live!, Bryan threw his WWE Championship in a garbage bin and called it “trash” while insisting that the world needed new symbols. That new symbol would come in the form of a new-look championship crafted entirely from sustainable materials. The belt itself was

made of hemp, while the front and side plates were carved from a naturally-fallen oak tree. Colourful loose stones replaced the gems that bedazzled the old decadent championship belt. Replacing the beloved championship belt with something that looked pompous and ugly only served to enrage the audience further against Daniel Bryan and his new movement. Some of Bryan’s social commentary, while obviously filtered through the intentionally dislikable character he was playing, was pretty insightful. During Bryan’s promo at the Royal Rumble Superstore before the 2019 event, a furious Daniel Bryan speaks to the camera about how WWE only wants the hard-earned money of the fans and are taking advantage of the consumerist culture that permeates modern society. He rants about how much plastic is involved in packaging the merchandise on display and how it’s killing the world’s oceans. He grabs a leather jacket and talks about the cruel exploitation of animals during the production of leather goods. He parades a stuffed bear in front of the camera, chastising the viewer for allowing species to go extinct because they can’t stop their consumption. These are all completely valid and true arguments which is what makes this version of Bryan such a good character.

He’s effective at getting predictable heat from the live crowd while at the same time, pushing many viewers to agree with what Bryan is saying despite his aggressive demeanour. While Bryan’s environmentalist character sometimes bordered on cartoonish (his feuding with Mustafa Ali because the latter drove an SUV comes to mind), he pinpointed real problems with society and made it so he can certainly be classified as a “justified villain.” Bryan revealed in a 2020 interview that WWE asked him to stop talking about environmentalism in his promos because the company didn’t want to become too “political.” I’m sure this has nothing to do with company owner Vincent K. McMahon being a long-time friend and supporter of the climate-change-denying U.S President Donald Trump. Bryan countered by saying climate change was a scientific issue rather than a political one, and he refused to allow the company to produce more merchandise with his likeness until they met certain sustainability criteria. Bryan believes that despite his character being portrayed as a villain, he is spreading awareness regarding climate change with his environmentalist gimmick.

ENTERTAINMENT | 35


A Week in My Wardrobe Second O

Hand september BY KAIA PURCELL

pening up my wardrobe publicly for a week is admittedly daunting, and a pressure which I’m certain is familiar to most. No longer do we fear the eyes of others judging whether our outfit choices are trendy enough, expensive enough, fashionable enough – we now face ethical dilemmas. It is so fitting that the first issue should focus on the current climate emergency, as the world of fashion seems to be held under a magnifying glass by a generation unhappy to accept anything below par regarding justice and consciousness. The currently trending #SecondHandSeptember is testament to this as a whole generation utilise their connectivity to benefit an ethical agenda. However, as most of us know only too well, consuming fashion deemed as “conscious” can often bear a bigger price tag and leave some people being excluded due to factors like size, style, and accessibility. So, do we all just turn to the super cheap, quick, and enticing option of fast fashion websites and avail of stylish clothes plus free next day delivery? Truthfully, many of us do and I am not an exception to this. The things that we can do to step towards a more ethical wardrobe do not begin with punishing ourselves for our choices and binning all fast fashion. In fact, doing the complete opposite can be the best first step that we can take to making our wardrobes more ethical. Here’s how I have been trying.

Monday

Monday mornings are always my favourite outfit days! Having spent most of Sunday evening outfit planning and flipping through magazines for inspiration, I started the week off with a quintessentially autumnal vibe, selecting a draped cardigan secured with a belt, paired with recycled nylon black tights and knee high brown heeled boots. The entire outfit is actually Penney’s, but before you press the eject button for my fast fashion choice, everything excluding the tights are second hand, courtesy of my super stylish Aunt Pauline - #SecondHandSeptember off the ground while paying homage to the new season styles I coveted from the runway!

36 | SEPTEMBER 2020

Tuesday

Tuesdays are the new Mondays and I took the executive decision to choose the extra five minutes in bed and opt for a “jeans and a nice top” day. The jeans are Levi’s and hold the position of one of my favourite wardrobe residents. The versatility of the perfect pair of jeans is unmatchable, and denim is something that I like to invest in as it literally lasts forever. This twinset sent me racing for my Visa card once I saw it online on my favourite resale shop, Cameo Resale in Midleton. The benefits of shopping resale are endless, from the fact that you are giving some gorgeous pieces a new home, supporting a local business, and finding complete gems that you will not find anywhere else.


Thursday

Wednesday

Who is partial to an old-fashioned outfit change? Because I am in favour for certain. One crime I have admitted to and am trying desperately to make amends for is buying something to wear for a certain occasion and claiming that I can never wear it again. Wednesday’s jumpsuit was one of those pieces, originally worn alone paired with stilettos for a night out. Discovering its endless possibilities in the daytime has been a blessing. I wore it almost as a dungarees, popping a t-shirt underneath and pairing with a cosy cardigan while running to the charity shop to drop off my own bits and make sure the cycle goes around! In the evening, I swapped the t-shirt for a puff-sleeved shirt and added accessories and shoes to totally transform the look and bring it back to a casual evening wear look.

Thursdays are the days that I lock myself in my room to get through my writing for the week and generally just get stuff done. For this, I needed a super comfortable yet uplifting outfit to help get me in the spirits. Cue my favourite Depop outfit of the moment, pale pink Juicy Couture tracksuit bottoms and a cropped neon pink Barbie t-shirt. It may not be to everyone’s taste but this outfit gives me a little boost, not just because of how adorable I think it is but because of the knowledge that some nice person across the country opted to make some money from clothes they no longer wanted without being wasteful! Depop is like a sweetshop for fashion forward people looking to bag bargains while also being a more sustainable alternative to buying new.

Friday

Date night on Friday led me unintentionally to my favourite outfit of the week. In the middle of an “I have nothing to wear” (I absolutely did by the way) panic, I made a quick dash to my mother’s wardrobe and pulled out a blouse she wore to a wedding. I paired this with some leather trousers and a leather corset style top, both of which were given by a friend as she no longer wanted them. Finished off with a black leather beret picked up at a charity shop (which my friends assured me I would never wear and only kind of did to prove them wrong) and I was all set! My favourite look of the week and it truly did take a village to bring it together.

T

he utter inconsistency of my style in a period even as short as a week is testament to my belief when it comes to trying to make ethical wardrobe choices – trying is a good enough place to begin. Being cognisant of the current climate emergency and the steps needed to be taken by individuals to play our part is the first step, and following from this we can only attempt to adapt our lives in realistic ways in the hope of creating positive results. So, pop into your local charity and resale shops, buy from Depop or other online resale stores, get more uses from your own clothes, swap clothes with others and discover all the ways that you can create a positive impact on our lovely world!

ENTERTAINMENT | 37


leave no trace. In collaboration with Motley photographers Diego Leon, Rebecca Dineen, and Carly Fitzgerald, Fashion Editor Grace Claro brings you Motley’s very own socially distanced photoshoot.

38 | SEPTEMBER 2020


ENTERTAINMENT | 39


40 | SEPTEMBER 2020


ENTERTAINMENT | 41


42 | SEPTEMBER 2020


ENTERTAINMENT | 43


44 | SEPTEMBER 2020


ENTERTAINMENT | 45


Societies Spotlight WHAT ARE SOCIETIES AND WHY JOIN? Societies are communities created by

I'll use myself as an example. I started college

students for students. These range from

when I had just turned 17, not only was I a

cultural to academic, creative to charitable

baby with the social skills of a potato I was

and even political and activism! There's a

also in Arts, a course that is so big and

society for everyone here in UCC and it

diverse that sometimes you end up

doesn't matter if you're a first year or on your

bestfriending the mean guy that is loneliness.

final year of your postgrad, it's never too late

The cherry on top of it all was when I broke

to join a society and find like minded people.

my elbow at the beginning of November and dived face first into depression. But it wasn't all bad, I decided that I was sick of feeling sorry for myself and decided to get properly involved with societies once I got better and honestly it was a huge help. Now I am finally starting my postgrad and I have made friends, got to travel all over Ireland and even found someone special all

46 | SEPTEMBER 2020 Irina Fernandes Public Relations and Media Officer Societies Executive 20/21

thanks to societies and when my course got too much I knew I always had something good in societies.


| 47


THE PROFESSOR'S PEN DR. MIRANDA CORCORAN

Climate Emergency A Distant Dystopian Fiction Becomes a Tangible Chaotic Reality

E

arly science fiction often imagined apocalyptic scenarios in which, bereft of human inhabitants, the earth continues to flourish. Often in these stories some catastrophe – a nuclear war or a deadly disease – decimates the population, leaving few, if any, survivors behind. Yet, with people vanished from the globe, nature is replenished. The earth is covered in resplendent greenery, animals multiply, water runs clear and pure. In Mary Shelley’s pioneering sci-fi novel The Last Man (1826), humankind is all but wiped out by a plague. As our species dwindles, however, nature reawakens and in the midst of death, new life sweeps across the face of the earth. Similarly, Ray Bradbury’s short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950) depicts a future in which humanity has been wiped out by nuclear war and all that remains is abandoned technology, smart homes and automated assistants that are slowly consumed by a natural world run wild in the absence of people. That such narratives should exist suggests two things: firstly, that humans have, for a long time, been aware of the damage we are doing to our planet, but have hoped that without our influence the earth might heal itself; and, secondly, that while we can visualise the destruction of humanity, the fall of civilisation and the cessation of progress, we have always struggled to imagine the loss of our habitat. We can imagine all kinds of losses, but the loss of the earth itself is too much. For a long time, we avoided thinking about it and imagined that even if we destroyed ourselves, the planet at least would linger after us. In the past few decades, however, we have been forced to contemplate the far more disturbing possibility that we have caused irreparable damage to the planet and that even without us – without our polluting industries, our governmental indifference and casual carelessness – the earth might never repair itself. In 1962, a fifty-four-year-old marine biologist named Rachel Carson published a book called Silent Spring in which she warned of a “strange blight”, an “evil spell” rotting our towns and spoiling our countryside. The wicked enchantment Carson described was pollution – which in the 1960s was largely attributed to chemicals like DDT – and her book is credited with inaugurating the modern environmentalist movement. Since then, we have become more adept at visualising the destruction of our environment. In the same year, English author J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962) imagined melting icecaps and

rising sea levels. Later, films like Silent Running (1972) would envision the extinction of earth’s plant life. After the turn of the millennium, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) and Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (2003-2013) would present even bleaker visions of ecological catastrophe. We have learned to articulate the once unimaginable loss, the incomparable grief, that would attend the destruction of our environment. We must confront this loss because we are already in the midst of it. In a 2009 issue of the journal Nature Johan Rockström, along with twenty-eight other scientists, argued that we have already overstepped three of the major planetary thresholds that define the safe operating space for humanity with regard to the biophysical systems. By the early 2000s, humanity had crossed the thresholds for carbon emissions, nitrogen pollution and biodiversity loss. We have been forced, in our fiction and in our fantasy, to imagine environmental collapse because the destruction of our planet is no longer a vague, future abstraction but a very real process in which we are currently caught. I wanted to end this column with some reassuring words about how we might slow the pace of environmental degradation, but I’m not sure I can find them. When I was a child, in the early nineties, the popular narrative was one of personal responsibility: if we recycled our cardboard, picked up after ourselves and cycled instead of driving, we could save the planet. There was even a popular children’s cartoon called Captain Planet and the Planeteers (yes, really!) that ran from 1990-1996 and taught children how they could play a part in protecting the environment. Today, it’s harder to maintain the belief that if individuals simply modify their behaviour, we might be able to reverse the catastrophic damage already done to our planet. The last few years have seen a shift away from narratives of personal responsibility – discourses that often penalised our poorest and most vulnerable citizens – and towards an understanding that the mitigation of our current climate crisis requires major systemic change at both governmental and industry level. Although we, as individuals, should try to behave in an environmentally responsible manner where we can, the present crisis demands more: we need to hold our politicians and corporations to account, push for change in any way we can and refuse to remain silent as our planet becomes increasingly inhospitable.