The University of the Third Age (DLDK)

Future Events Programme

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Saving our great-grandchildren – the challenge of climate change

Prof. John Fitzgerald

  • 📅Tuesday, January 4, 2022
  • 🕥11:00 - 12:00
  • 🏟ZOOM meeting (map)

For most of the really big challenges that we as a society face, the job of politicians is to find solutions that will benefit us. Tackling Covid is a clear example, and here the major policy changes that we have had to make are accepted because they are for our benefit. However, the really big challenge of tackling climate change is that politicians have to ask us to make sacrifices today that will not have major benefits for us, but which are essential for the welfare of future generations, including our great-grandchildren. The political system is not comfortable with telling the public that they must adopt an uncomfortable solution because it is the ethical solution, not one driven by self-interest.

The task of halting climate change is difficult but doable. It will have significant costs for everyone, but these costs are likely to be smaller than the cost of the financial crisis, or even the immediate costs of Covid.

In the case of some of the solutions they will be adopted by society anyway when they become the cheapest solution to our needs. Examples already include some renewable electricity and, by the second half of the decade, it will also be the case for new electric cars. However, there will remain significant changes that households and companies must make which will prove expensive.

The cost to society from moving to a zero emissions world will come in the form of a redirection of expenditure from consuming and investing the goods and services we currently do, to spending to end carbon emissions. It is this redirection of expenditure from what we would prefer to consume to what we must invest in that will be difficult. In many cases this redirection of expenditure will come from the state raising taxes to pay for the investments that would not otherwise take place, because of their costs, leaving us less to spend as we would wish. In turn, the higher levels of taxation will be uncomfortable, but we have accepted them in the past, for example to deal with the financial crisis.

In the Irish case, the one area where tackling climate change will have a direct effect, reducing output and incomes, is the case of agriculture. The changes needed here are substantial. However, if appropriate plans are adopted Irish agriculture in 2050 will have reached net zero emissions and will still look rather similar to today with cattle still grazing in the fields. Farmers will have to be protected from the consequences for their incomes of this change in agriculture.

Ireland has very low forest cover and this is a real opportunity, especially for the agricultural sector. It offers a steady safe income, helping make the farming sector part of the solution to climate change. However, for this to happen the Government must stop putting up roadblocks for farmers who want to change and help solve the climate crisis. The current licensing regime for forestry must be replaced by a set of suitable regulations.

John FitzGerald is an Honorary Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the government’s Climate Change Advisory Council and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.




Early Irish sculpture and the art of the high crosses

Prof. Roger Stalley

  • 📅Tuesday, January 18, 2022
  • 🕥11:00 - 12:00
  • 🏟ZOOM meeting (map)

At a time when much of Europe was convulsed by war and invasion, early medieval Ireland witnessed a remarkable burst of stone carving, centred on the production of large free-standing crosses. Best known are the two stunning monuments that adorn the ruins of the ancient monastery at Monasterboice, the work of a highly gifted sculptor with a distinctive and amusing style of his own. Contrary to popular opinion, the crosses were not commissioned by a series of unassuming abbots but by some of the most powerful men of the age, often with the aim of promoting religious and political status. In this talk Professor Stalley will explain how the crosses were made and the engineering involved. He will also reveal the identity of the patrons and explore the background and personality of the principal sculptor, who deserves recognition as one of the great artists of his age.

Roger Stalley is a fellow emeritus of Trinity College Dublin, where he was formerly professor of the History of Art. As a medieval specialist, his writing and research has embraced both Irish and European art and architecture. He has published eight books, including the award winning Cistercian Monasteries of Ireland (1987), along with Early Medieval Architecture (1999), a volume that has sold over 24,000 copies worldwide. His latest book, Early Irish sculpture and the art of the high crosses, was published by the Mellon Centre in May 2020. The book was recently shortlisted for the Berger prize, awarded to the author of the most outstanding book on British and Irish Art published in that year.




Elizabeth I and the perils of female monarchy in the sixteenth century

Ciaran Brady

  • 📅Tuesday, March 29, 2022
  • 🕥11:00 - 12:00
  • 🏟ZOOM meeting (map)

Ciaran Brady was formerly Professor of Early Modern History and Historiography, and is now Fellow Emeritus, at Trinity College Dublin. Originally a specialist in sixteenth century Irish and English history, he developed a second interest in the theory and practice of historical thinking and writing, and has published widely in both areas. Joint editor of the peer review journal Irish Historical Studies for ten years, he has been President of the Historical Society and the Historical Association of Ireland. A founder member of the Trinity Access Programme, he was deeply involved in the construction and development of the new Leaving Certificate History syllabus by the National Council of Curriculum and Development. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

The present talk, ‘Elizabeth I and the perils of female monarchy in the sixteenth century’ is a reflection of his dual interests [in sixteenth century English and Irish history and in historiography]. Taking a critical look at the several ways in which Elizabeth has been interpreted and judged by generations of historians, he will seek to identify, on the basis of verifiable evidence, the key values and priorities by which Elizabeth herself and her contemporaries judged her actions and attitudes. An attempt will be made to assess the degree to which Elizabeth succeeded in overcoming the many obstacles confronting her as an unmarried female monarch, and also the degree to which she fell short.