Report on climate change impact warns of potential serious social and economic problems for Ireland.

The effects of climate change which have been evident in many countries for the past number of years are beginning to be seen in Ireland.

Winters have been getting warmer, as have summer nights. Across the world an event like a freak flood which happened once a century is now more likely to happen once a decade.

There has been an increase in rainfall in the north and west of Ireland, but the south and east are becoming drier.

All of the above plus stark warnings about the future state of Ireland's climate are contained in an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) report released today which is written by the Department of Geography at NUI (National University of Ireland) Maynooth and the Department of Botany at TCD (Trinity College Dublin).

Unexpected weather patterns will be a feature of the years ahead, explains Doctor John Sweeny, Department of Geography at NUI Maynooth.

If we pack more energy into the atmosphere, it can pack a bigger surprise for us in many ways.

Scientific evidence now points to the reality that human actions are harmful to the planet. Mary Kelly from the EPA, points to a low level of public engagement with the issue of climate change here in Ireland and warns major changes need to take place.

An entire change in the way we do business and the way we live our lives.

Minister for the Environment Martin Cullen today stressed that developing alternative energy sources are crucial for meeting targets on greenhouse gas emissions,

Use of alternative forms of energy like wind energy is a clear benefit.

He also warned that carbon taxes may be imposed on those who use less than clean fuels.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 November 2002. The reporter is Aoife Kavanagh.