Went to an awesome lecture yesterday at the RSA which is my new favorite place. It was called ‘Taking the slow road – the future of travel in a carbon constrained world? The talk was really interesting – Ed Gillespie who runs Futerra, a sustainability communications agency, has just returned from traversing the globe without flying (read about it here) – they spent a year attempting to go ‘Round the World in 80 Ways’ although they said that to achieve 80 you had to mount all sorts of animals so they didn’t quite get 80. My favorite bit was when he said that after working out they carbon footprint from their trip it was actually half of what it had been had he just stayed in his house for the year – nice to think that actually traveling could be better for the environment than standing still!
Then this dude John Adams spoke and he was awesome too – he’s old school Friends of the Earth and has worked on some OECD project on environmentally sustainable transport – aaanyway he was talking about hypermobility – an interesting couple of points that he raised
1) in the 1950′s the average person traveled 3 miles a day, now its 30 miles a day and its projected that in 2025 it will be 60 miles. The thing is that we don’t spend any more time actually traveling so we’re now traveling at 6 times the speed that we were 50 something years ago.
2) in the 1970′s 80% of 8 year olds got to school under their own steam and now its something like 1% – maybe not even that.
He said that the more and further we travel the more polarised and anonymous society becomes which has the knock on effect of reducing trust not only between members of society but also between members of the public and public institutions. He said that as population grows and we all become more anonymous the police have an increasingly difficult task of monitoring trouble makers etc and that due to this we have to accept 1984 types of control – CCTV, ID cards etc, either that or accept a police service that provides no real service. I agree.
Anyway there were loads more interesting points that I’ll bring up at a later date but the one that really got me thinking was something that Ed Gillespie said that was if we keep flying as much as we do now – air traffic will account for 100% of our allocated carbon emissions in 2050 (might be the wrong date) – anyway that means that we would have to reduce all other emissions (cars, industry etc) by 100% – whats spinning me out, and I need to research this more, but I really don’t see how we’re going to get people to drive less, fly less and industry to find sustainable practices in time – I mean getting some liberal Londoners to give up their cars is fine – but the population is not far off 7 Billion!!!! Eh so it goes.