This should have been a week when the Armageddonists won all the arguments. Areas of Europe are ablaze, the Gulf Stream is collapsing, June was the hottest month in the 174-year history of temperature monitoring, and is likely to be overtaken by July. António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, warned that “the era of global boiling has arrived” while thousands of tourists fled from their resorts in Greece.
Here in Ireland policy dilemmas were encapsulated by the differing responses to a Green-inspired all-island strategic plan for rail, and the countervailing arguments for roads already set out and costed in the national development plan. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, provocatively, observed that the rail plan underlined the case for road investment while an (unnamed) critic in the Coalition was reported as responding: “Do these f***ers not read the news?” A modern, integrated, rail network is a lovely dream, but would be more compelling if we did a half-decent job of using what we already have efficiently, and if we did not carry the burdens of long project lead-times coupled with huge capital overspends. Commuters and passengers have lined up this week to describe where existing services fall short, and why they should be the starting point for improvement.