Impact of climate change brought home by Maghery walk

A DONEGAL student spent much of his time during lockdown earlier this year writing a book on Ireland and climate change.

Ben Harkin (19) from Termon is a second year Software and Electronics students at Queen’s University in Belfast.

Writing the book ‘Time nor tide’ gave Ben something to focus on during lockdown.


“It says what I think I need to say,” he said.

The son of Eddie Harkin and Nicola Doherty, Ben has two brothers Oisín and Rónán. A former student of Mulroy College and, more recently, St Eunan’s College in Letterkenny he has a keen interest in climate change and politics.

“I’ve often wondered how, as a country, can we really make steps to become carbon neutral and I was keen to get my thoughts out to the world. It’s a serious problem for us all and we have to act now,” he said.

Like most students, Ben is continuing his studies online at the start of the new academic year and his attention has switched back to the books.

“I would love for my book to be published by a big name brand, it would be a great feeling, but the truth is we don’t have the time to wait. So I’m putting this out there, hoping beyond hope that someone will listen to what I’m saying and trying and get the people with the power to make change to act,” he writes in the preface to the book.

The decision to push ahead with plans to self-publish the book came after a family weekend in Maghery during the summer.

“I was standing on the beach with grandad (Jim Doherty) when he pointed out that at the top of the beach, below where we were standing, used to be a road. He used to walk it to get to school.


“It was an incredible experience, to try and understand how that peaceful, lapping sea could remove a road, by so much that it was never clear to me it had been there at all.

“On the drive home, that was all I could think of. I felt an urgency to my work that I hadn’t felt before, I felt like time was slipping away from me, like sand through my fingers so I decided to push ahead and self publish,” he explained.

The book contains a lot of Ben’s own research on climate change caused by burning fossil fuels and how we need to change our habits.

“I can’t make any changes myself because I’m not a politician but I can inform people and show how these things can be done,” he explained.

The book is divided into three main sections – Hard Rain, Before the Flood and the Last Waltz – in which Ben outlines the current situation while he also talks about how the world will look in 2100.

“We need to change our energy systems and expand into renewable energy into transport and heating. We have to protect our eco systems, our forests and bogs and start using hydrogen as a clean source of energy,” he said.

“The climate of Ireland is going to change, change utterly. Summers will be hotter. Winters will be wetter. The sea is going to get closer. Many call climate change an existential threat. That it is so large a threat it will challenge our every belief of the world,” he added.

Although interested in politics, Ben is not affiliated to any political party.

“Voting with the environment in mind doesn’t mean just voting for the Green party, as you’ve seen during the book the impacts and solutions to this are complicated and every party will need to be working on it.

“We need to tell the canvassing politician that this is an issue, write to your local representative, bring it up at local debates. We need everyone working on this, from the Taoiseach to the county councillor.

“Throughout lockdown, we watched as negations loitered until a government was slowly cobbled together. One area parties stalled on was on the level of emission reductions we should promise each year. The Green’s wanted the 7 percent, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael tried to push them to 6.5 percent reductions. These small quibbles over parts of percentage points will seem pathetic as we look back on how we acted to the challenge of our times. This government has just enshrined in law the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, although there is yet a solid plan on how this is achieved, this is a good start, but we need clear, practical plans, soon. If we wait to make sure every plan that we make is perfect before we act then we will never act. As we move forward we will have great achievements but there will also be mistakes, and there will be some failures, probably quite public ones. But we have to have the strength and surety of purpose to continue on until we see it through,” he explained.

Time nor tide, Ireland and Climate change by Ben Harkin is available now for Kindle and Paperback on:


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