The Climate Change Collective
I am so pleased that we have established a blogging network which aims to keep climate change at the forefront of conversations. Our Climate Change Collective has already written two wonderful posts and now it is my turn to discuss the subject of transport, with a particular focus on how it impacts on the environment.
A Quick History Of The Climate Change Collective
The Climate Change Collective was born out of an exchange that took place when Michelle (EcoBoomer) left a comment on a blog post of mine back in summer. Michelle and I both care deeply about the impact of human activity on our planet and wanted to find a way to keep the climate change message at the top of everyone’s considerations. So we thought we would get a group of like-minded bloggers together and produce monthly articles.
We have several eco-bloggers in our blogging community, so Michelle tweeted to see what kind of interest there would be in a climate-change-related blogging collaboration…and the Climate Change Collective was born! (Full credit to Alison from A Sustainably Simple Life for coming up with the name.)
If you’re a blogger and would like to join our collective, please get in touch. The more the merrier!
Back To The Climate
When I studied my Geography degree back in 1996, I had found a course where the lecturers were already very aware of the threat of global warming. I was able to select subjects that centred on this and one such module was linked to Environmental Transport Management.
Anyway, as a result I became immersed in studies that were fresh and worrying at a time when climate change was just an occasional throw away comment on a BBC wildlife documentary. At the time few people knew about global warming and many who did refused to believe it possible. Some famous people actually mocked the scientists who bravely suggested it existed.
Transport – One Of The Biggest Climate Threats
First of all I want to talk about islands. Many people operate as if they are on islands these days. They have a home island, a work island, a ‘going out’ island and a shopping island. They hop in a vehicle and whizz between each island as if they are all disconnected.
One such example is children going to school. Often we find kids get in the car, distract themselves with devices and then arrive at school, almost magically. Then they hop into a car and nip to cubs or scouts or another hobby island before possibly visiting ‘grandma’ island. Often these islands are not very far away from one another.
Alongside this there are lots of issues. First, of course, pollution is highest during peak times and especially around schools where lots of cars are parking and stalling, queueing and congesting. Additionally, children are not getting the exercise they need before and after school, which would have woken them up ready for learning.
As well as this, kids have no idea about crossing the road safely, socialising with friends on the way to school and appreciating their own community and habitat. Instead they are largely absorbed by iPads and electronic games. As a teacher I often find kids don’t even know if they have a packed lunch in their bags as mostly they don’t even pack it themselves.
Independence is what we are losing.
Pollution is what we are gaining.
Statistically there is no increased safety risk when walking anywhere other than accidents caused by the unnecessary local traffic. In fact, the streets were much more welcoming when full of people walking and cycling to and from school and work. Walking to school never did me any harm.
Scaling It Up
So if we look at the global scale and think about unnecessary travel, we find the island theory (which I cannot allocate to one person – it is merely my take on what I discovered when reading around this issue) is still front and centre.
Many people move from one city to the next and one country to the next as if it has no consequence. Flying around for meetings, for quick getaways or just for the sake of it, has become second nature for many of us. People are always looking for the fastest way to get from one distant place to another.
Convenience Is The Problem
After flying to Vegas in 2014 I had read some articles that made me realise I had to stop flying. I couldn’t justify it any longer and so made a pact with myself to only travel over land or sea from then on. I have kept to that but it takes a lot of effort.
Looking at all of the sources of pollution, there is one thing that grabs me about air travel. Planes pump greenhouse polluting gases right into the upper atmosphere.
Aeroplane average emissions of CO2: 92kg per hour per passenger. (Source: https://www.carbonindependent.org/22.html)
It is as if we are injecting pollution directly into the layer where it can do the worst damage. There is no chance of it being recirculated or absorbed by plants and trees. It is exactly where it needs to be to add to the insulating layer of greenhouse gases that are blanketing our lovely planet.
There are cleaner options such as Eurostar. I have become a fan of travelling by train and look forward to a time when the electricity generated to power trains is completely fossil fuel free. For now, I am impressed by Eurostar because they cover large distances in comfort and make far less environmental impact.
I am not sponsored by Eurostar but just thought their chart was interesting and useful. I use all sorts of trains to get around Europe, and although it is not always convenient, this mode of transport needs further investment until it becomes a preferred and most convenient method for getting between cities.
I hope that the USA can also invest in a rail network as I was shocked when I looked at flight trackers and saw the astonishing amount of planes flying interstate at any given time. During Covid, Europe’s skies cleared of planes but America was still full of flights.
In A Nutshell
None of this is comfortable to talk about. It is absolutely not easy to make changes that may benefit the climate. We cannot just always resort to convenience when travelling.
But we can suggest a conference is held over zoom instead of requiring several people to fly around the world for a meeting (or jolly).
We can consider enjoying a train ride to get to our holiday destinations.
And we can get up ten minutes earlier and encourage young people to walk or cycle to school, perhaps even strolling to the shops, saving those awful car park charges.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. Opinions are my own, based on ny experiences and geographical studies. Please support the Climate Change Collective by commenting and sharing our articles.