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Climate and Society in Ireland podcast ep. 1: John Sweeney

In this first episode of our new podcast, host Gill Plunkett talks to John Sweeney about the challenges posed by climate change over the past few centuries.

In this new series of four podcasts host Gill Plunkett explores the long view of climate change by interviewing the authors of Climate and Society in Ireland. We talk about hunter gatherers, disease, poetry, weather events and consider our future vulnerabilities. In today’s episode, John Sweeney (Maynooth University) considers the challenging interaction between climate and society from the nineteenth century to the present.

The Climate and Society in Ireland podcast goes live on Wednesday and episodes are available on SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Climate and Society in Ireland is also a blog series based on the book chapters. Find the full list of blogs here.

About the book

Climate and Society in Ireland is a collection of essays, commissioned by the Royal Irish Academy, that provides a multi-period, interdisciplinary perspective on one of the most important challenges currently facing humanity. Combining syntheses of existing knowledge with new insights and approaches, contributors explore the varied environmental, climatic and social changes that occurred in Ireland from early prehistory to the early 21st century. The essays in the volume engage with a diversity of pertinent themes, including the impact of climate change on the earliest human settlement of Ireland; weather-related food scarcities during medieval times that led to violence and plague outbreaks; changing representations of weather in poetry written in Ireland between 1600 and 1820; and how Ireland is now on the threshold of taking the radical steps necessary to shed its ‘climate laggard’ status and embark on the road to a post-carbon society. Purchase Climate and Society in Ireland.

About the speaker

Emeritus Professor John Sweeney has been a member of the Geography Department at Maynooth University since 1978. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Glasgow in 1974 and also his PhD in the Meteorology and Climatology of Air Pollution from there in 1980. Over the intervening 42 years John has taught courses in climatology, biogeography, geomorphology and environmental resource management at Maynooth University and a number of universities in North America and Africa. He has published over 100 scientific papers and authored/ edited/co-authored 4 texts on various aspects of climatology and climate change in Ireland. He has served as President of the Irish Meteorological Society, the Geographical Society of Ireland and An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland. He has been Editor, Treasurer, Secretary of several national associations as well as being the Irish representative on a number of European academic bodies. He has been involved in a number of international research projects and has led a number of nationally funded research projects examining various aspects of climate change in Ireland. Professor Sweeney contributed to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is also a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on matters related to climate change science and policy and received the inaugural award for achievements in journalism from the European Meteorological Society in 2014.

About the host

Dr Gill Plunkett is Reader in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University Belfast. Gill is an archaeologist and palaeoecologist with a specific interest in understanding human-environment interactions in the past. As an archaeologist, Gill has worked on Irish prehistoric and Medieval sites, and has several years experience of wetland archaeology survey and recording. Her palaeoecological expertise includes palynology and plant macrofossil analysis (peatland and archaeobotanical), as well as the application of tephrochronology as both a dating and correlation method and a means of examining volcanic impacts on climate and society. While much of her research is based on Irish bogs, her tephra work extends to polar ice cores, the Caspian Sea and lakes and bogs in North America, Kamchatka and southeast Asia.