Week 10: Environment Field Note
The environment is the thing that we are most intertwined with and should be most concerned about protecting, yet we somehow can forget that it exists. Read on to learn how the wet and rainy climate that is known as the beloved Emerald Isle, Ireland, is shifting. We will learn how this shift may jeopardize how people are connected to their environment.
Intro: How are people connected to the environment?
People throughout the world are intertwined with the environment in almost all aspects of their lives, even if they do not realize it. However, there are various degrees in which people are dependent upon their environment. Some people are dependent upon their environment to supply them with materials they need for daily life.
For example in my hometown, of Crystal Falls, Michigan, people are extremely dependent on our environment to provide timber from the forests that is used to produce a variety of wooden products which are then exported, or sold, throughout the country. These logging companies are connected to the environment because they are dependent upon the amount of precipitation that our area receives as well as maintaining the forests to make sure there will be trees to log in the future.
Interestingly enough, the loggers in my hometown are not the only ones that are dependent upon the amount of precipitation that the environment provides. Many people do not realize this but Ireland, especially the Cork area, is very dependent on the environment to provide just the right amount of rain in order to keep their farms working properly. Irish farms can be compared to farms in the United States in that they produce and harvest crops, such as potatoes and provide animals to the local markets.
The joke in Ireland is that there will never been a scare for lack of rain, because it is always raining, but the danger comes in when there is too much rain. If farms receive excesses amounts of precipitation the outcome is terrible for everyone and everything involved. I learned in my Global Climate Change class this semester that there will be more erosion, which leads to poor soil for growing crops. In addition, bog lands could begin to have mudslides if current precipitation patterns continue on the path they are now.
What makes this environment special or different?
The GREEN! The green is what makes Ireland’s environment both special and different. Because of the amount of moisture that is constantly in the air moss grows and covers everything from tree trunks to rocks even to the side of our building. The best thing about the green is the fact that there are many different shades of green throughout Ireland and County Cork especially.
The geographical diversity, which can be described by imagining a section of land that contains a variety of different terrains such as: mountains, lakes, rivers, and fields all within that same area, really showcases the different shades of green throughout the landscape. The mountains in the background have the darker colored green, but also show the brownish green from the shrubbery, then you have the fields which are bright, almost neon green to the deep forest green of the trees. However, Ireland’s environment is different than the environment in New York, for example, because it does not have four seasons. The climate is temperate which means that it stays relatively the same temperature the whole year round. In some ways this is a good thing because it allows for a longer growing season which allows people in Cork to keep producing and harvesting fresh produce.
What parts of this environment help people to live here?
The diverse landscape in Cork allows people to have access to a variety of things that help them to live here. For example, because many farmers do not have large flat sections of land that can be used to pasture animals and plant crops, they improvise and use techniques that allow them to plant as well as pasture livestock on the hills, which are more like mountains in my opinion.
Also, since Cork has such great access to various water sources like the River Lee and the Pacific Ocean, it allows people to supply themselves with water as well as food. Of course fish is one of the main food sources people obtain from having great access to the bodies of water, but being so close to a water source also provides other food sources like wild game.
What challenges do people face living in this environment?
The climate in Cork and throughout Ireland is not exactly the most comfortable one to live in. The annual amount of rain fall per year in Cork is about 47 inches, which is almost the same as New York City which receives about 45 inches of rain per year. Now, you may think this is weird considering that they get the same amount of rainfall, but the rain here in Cork is different than the rain at home. It pretty much rains every day here, but just for a little bit at a time, sort of an annoying drizzle compared to New York City, which receives more rain but less frequently.
How have people been adapting to this environment?
People have been able to adapt and have come up with some tricks to combat the rainy and damp weather. People always make sure to have an umbrella handily tucked away in their back pockets because the rain will literally just appear. One time I was walking home from class, not a cloud in the sky, and all of the sudden it began to rain! Explain that one to me. Needless to say, I should have packed my umbrella! I feel the most important lesson I have learned while living in Ireland, in regards to combatting the weather, is to always, always, always dress in layers. I usually wear my normal shirt but then put a jumper, sweater, over the top and always pack an extra jumper or jacket in my bag. Whether I am just walking to class, or about to climb a mountain, layers are the most important thing.
A little bit of sunshine