Category Archives: Plane Dependence

Carbon Detox: Time to Get Real

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It’s not easy to admit that something that forms the basis of our lives and our societies could be leading us down a path of destruction, disorder and incredible suffering. Our addiction to fossil fuels is a lot like nicotine addiction- we come up with a whole set of psychological mechanisms to justify continuing our current behaviour, even as the warnings are growing louder and the side-effects more irritating (and as someone who is struggling with giving up smoking I can relate, believe me).

How can we begin to take responsibility? Accept that our loving family flying from all around the world to meet for a reunion is causing extreme weather that is leading to the breakup of someone else’s family in the developing world? Accept that when I boil a kettle to make a cup of tea (although it is a minor impact compared with aviation) I am also part of the problem.

There are no easy answers- this is a rapidly evolving area where social norms and morality are struggling to keep up with the latest scientific findings. But it seems that a man named George Marshall, who is also behind the Climate Denial website and the Climate Outreach and Information Network has thought about this problem a hell of a lot, and has produced what I think is the most important book ever written on climate change, called Carbon Detox- Your step-by-step guide to getting real about climate change.

Important because it could actually make a difference where hundreds of others have failed. It’s like a self-help book without the dogma. A call to action without the guilt. And have you ever read a book on climate change that encourages you to drive a Ferrari Testarossa around a racetrack at 160 mph or race a speedboat off the coast of Cornwall? I didn’t think so.

I can’t find strong enough words to recommend this book– you should buy it for yourself and for everyone you know for the holidays. Request it at your local bookstore, or order it from Amazon today.

Surfboard Direct Action Against Hawaii SuperFerry Raises Questions About Transport Choice

The recent arrival of an 850 passenger and 280+ car ferry to Kauai was not embraced as an alternative to “island hopping” flights between the islands, but actually halted and turned away at the mouth of the Lihue harbour by dozens of adults and kids on surfboards and kayaks,. and their supporters on shore in a kind of populist marine direct action.

I read this and thought, ‘what if I was in Hawaii and needed to get to another island?’  I don’t fly- without a ferry I’d have to hitch on a sailboat or something.

But this particular ferry begins to look like serious overkill the more you look at it. Too big and too fast for the Hawaiian islands, especially Kauai, the western garden isle which has an especially laid back vibe and fragile ecosystem. I doubt the superferry is any more efficient (per passenger) than a plane– it’s probably very much worse. Plus it kills whales.

Nevertheless, from reading about this, I’m left with a nagging question of why there isn’t a slower, simpler public ferry- perhaps run on solar, or wind energy, carrying bicycles and getting people off those damn island hoppers, what are essentially wasteful short haul flights.

Why the environmental groups aren’t matching their protests to halt the superferry with calls for viable, low impact water transport and an alternative to inter-island flights. Maybe by outrigger canoe?

Kauai’s brave residents aren’t yet blockading the airport in Lihue, but the damage caused increasingly by high altitude carbon emissions will soon ensure that whales (and all of us) will find ourselves inhabiting an uncertain future- even a terrifying unpredictable world rather than the mostly stable paradise we take for granted today.

Oh well let’s worry about it later. For now….pass the pina coladas and the tanning butter! OK… In all fairness, there is in fact a tide of discontent rising in Hawaii as it is in Bristol and North America and anywhere else people are paying attention to the fact that we have to move on this issue.

Like, um… yesterday people.

Bristol to Tokyo Plane Free!

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Yesterday, Louise Rouse, environmental illustrator (and my girlfriend for the last 4 months), embarked from Bristol Temple Meads Train Station on a journey by train and boat that will take her across nine time zones and ten countries over the next three and a half weeks (you can do it in two if you go direct). When she arrives in Tokyo, she plans to study Japanese language and illustration for the next two years. I am so sad to see her go, but share her excitement about her new life in Japan, and her adventure getting there. It’s also a great excuse to do this journey myself and go visit her! Lou was partly inspired by my plane free trip a year ago from San Francisco to Bristol, and like me, has decided to give up flying because of the growing damage that aviation is inflicting on our climate.

As I write this on Sunday morning, Louise has just arrived in Berlin on an overnight train from Brussels, and will take another train this evening to St Petersburg, Russia. Then, a train to Moscow. From there, she rides the Trans-Siberian railway to Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. Then its on to Beijing, Shanghai, and a ferry to Yokohama.

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You can follow her travels during September on her very erudite blog and also be sure to check out her wonderful and humorous environmentally themed illustrations at LouiseRouse.com. To book your own rail and sea voyage anywhere in the world, instead of flying, see seat61.com. Bon Voyage my dear!

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Camp for Climate Action Report

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Sleazyjet quickly got back into action, seducing people to take more holidays abroad and stop worrying about the future! Screw Global Warming! Let’s Fly! (and Fry…..)

What can I say about Climate Camp? It was like nothing I’ve experienced before- truly a self-organized community of diverse people with a common goal- to put a halt to this mad orgy of fossil fuel burning that is leading us to climate chaos. Five Hundred meters north of the busiest airport in the world, which excretes a massive 31 million tons of carbon a year, it meant drawing a line in the sand and acting directly to prevent the madness of a third runway and a near doubling of flights.

The camp was unique in that protest-hardened anarchists rubbed shoulders with scientists, middle class families, and students worried about the future and spurred to action.

Dozens of packed, intensive workshops led by scientists, environmentalists, and social activists added to the cultural brew. One of my favourite sessions was a session led by George Marshall of the Climate Outreach and Information Network about the psychology of climate change denial. Are you in denial? Watch this video summary of his talk and then visit his Climate Denial website.

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The low-cost airlines began their cycle ride from Bristol International and rode 134 miles to Heathrow Airport, mostly along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, which, if improved might one day provide a high quality level cycleway between London and Bristol. Along the way, Sleazyjet, FryinAir, and company clamored for more cheap flights, more runways, and more CO2!!!- here they seduce passers-by at a travel agent in Devizes with 1p flights to Tuvalu in the South Pacific (which is being swallowed by rising seas) “See it before it’s gone!….” Apocalypse tourism gone astray…

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James from Ireland is changing a flat tire outside Pewsey, where some……well…..interesting people live. We’re about to head to Reading and its hospitable International Solidarity Centre.

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After a rather wet day riding through Windsor, the Bristol Climate Camp Cycle Convoy arrived at the Camp for Climate Action, which was stealthily built only about 500 m north of the main runways, on the site proposed for the 3rd runway. Immediately the mood was celebratory and defiant.

This video below was shot about a half hour after we arrived . About 30 police officers try to come on site against a previous agreement with the camp…. see what happens:

This video starts out with no sound but has nice photos of the camp and some great speeches toward the end:

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Trevor and Friends joined an affinity group opposed to air freighted fruits and vegetables- “Don’t Buy Flown! Grow your Own!”

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More than 1800 police officers surrounded the camp, and used terrorist law to stop and search nearly everyone. There were dozens of riot vans, intelligence gathering film and video units, a crane erected with 24 hour video surveillance, telescope microphones, and a helicopter hovering overhead- and you can see why– we were clearly a major terrorist threat! Our “secret weapon” was the “mini-dink” the baby version of the Rinky Dink human powered sound system (you can see the people furiously pedaling behind George) powering Monbiot’s speech in the photo below:

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George Monbiot , the Guardian columnist and author who camped with us in the Westside neighbourhood, speaks to a crowd in Harmondsworth, one of the villages BAA wants to raze to make way for another runway. In the process, they want to demolish a 1000 year old church and disinter the people buried there, including the daughter of villager Alf Pereira, who died from Bronchial disease brought on by Heathrow’s air pollution, which already exceeds EU law for NO2. Utter Madness….

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Chatting with the Met on a rare sunny day. This nice policewoman refuses to fly, teaches sustainable principles to her kids, and buys local, organic food. Of course, not all of them were so keen– as the clouds darkened and protests intensified later in the week, there were cases of unnecessary police brutality associated with the arrests of more than 80 people…..

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Trees were planted in Harmondsworth as a statement of defiance against British Airport Authority’s suicidal plans for airport expansion. BAA was the next target as a 24 hour occupation of its world hq commenced. Twenty-four hours later, the head of its press department had resigned.

Later in the day, I chatted with two young guys who worked at the airport for Aer Lingus, and expecting them to be pro-airport, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they opposed to the expansion, supportive of climate camp’s presence and excited about the climate justice movement in general. They bought me a pint, and said “good on ya!” I saw them cycling over to BAA HQ that evening to support the protests. Yet another reminder that some very bad corporations are often made up of good individuals (like in the film, the Corporation, when anti-Shell activists camped outside the house of one of its board members, and are brought tea and biscuits by the guy, who turned out to be really quite a nice chap…).

The truth is this: Climate Camp wasn’t just an isolated event– it is emerging everywhere. We are more numerous than the corporations, we are more powerful than the politicians, and we are going to win…. because losing– allowing ourselves to cross that 2 degrees centigrade boundary is– unthinkable.

Day by Day Indymedia UK News Coverage of the Camp and Associated Action

Sleazyjet: Come on, let’s fry!

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Here is my letter to Sleazyjet, the UK’s low cost short haul airline, in response to their “fly greener” environment page, predictably appearing in the weeks before climate camp at http://www.easyjet.com/EN/Environment/index.html

In other news: My friend Jon from SF runs a cycling podcast called Bikescape- we recently had a conversation about climate change and transport politics in the UK. My part is about half way through.

Bristol to Heathrow Climate Camp Bike Ride is Leaving from Bristol International this Friday evening, August 10th, stopping in Bath, Bradford-upon- Avon, Chippenham, and Reading among other places over the next 4 days, spreading the word about climate camp and the need to oppose airport expansion and begin to fly less. We arrive at the Climate Camp Site on the 14th. If you want to join us at any point along the way call us on 0795 654 8966 or see the Climate Camp Bike Ride page.

Also, check out my man George Monbiot’s climate camp column in the Guardian.

Ok here it is- my (former) customer feedback to Easyjet and its owner Stellios, the billionaire who has become rich expoliting the world’s poor and vulnerable victims of climate chaos.

Come on Sleazyjet– Let’s Fry!

More climate change- more short sighted short haul flights- the writing is on the wall for aviation- your blatant animated greenwashing page will convince no one. Aviation is still the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide and trains are more efficient, and much more fun. you people are pathetic. just pathetic. and you are swiftly becoming obsolete.

I really hope Sleazyjet and Fryin’air both go bankrupt and that Stellios has to sell his freakin’ pleasure boat. Maybe he can donate it as a medical vessel to help a fraction of the millions now struggling in south asia (not to mention south gloucestershire) from climate chaos and floods that he has helped to bring about.

Also, make sure to thank your friends BAA for giving climate camp all that free publicity. Cheers very much for that. it is obvious your industry is under attack, and Ken Livingstone is right when he calls BAA ‘out of their skulls’ You are all out of your skulls, and have your heads buried in the sand. Well, it seems that it’s all coming down next week. You can’t hide from the reality of climate change forever. The Planet does have its limits.

Also thanks so much for disrupting the peace and quiet of our neighbourhood under the flight path…….really makes us all support airport expansion.

Just please stop destroying our future and then lying about it. Please.

Sincerely,

Captain Climate

BBC Covers My Plane Free Journey from S F

Here’s the BBC coverage of my plane free journey from October 2006, uploaded to youtube with sound included finally…

Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow Airport!

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Just a tip to help you avoid any delay or frustration and to allow you to take direct, effective action against the serious threat of climate change if you so choose.

I wouldn’t recommend making air travel plans that involve Heathrow or Gatwick during August, especially from the 14th to the 21st as you my encounter some unexpected turbulence on the ground.

Sorry for any inconvenience but if anyone hasn’t noticed, the Earth is getting too hot and our increasingly wasteful travel habits are to blame. Heathrow alone emits the equivalent of 31 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and this cannot continue if we want to avoid climate chaos.

Note that this protest is aimed squarely at the airline industries and at the UK government that is hypocritically moving forward with a series of airport expansions, NOT individual travelers.

See http://www.seat61.com for a range of effective alternatives to wasteful, and increasingly irrelevant air travel.

See http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/ for more details about the camp

For more information or to join mass bicycle rides from all over the UK converging on Heathrow, see

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2420161391

Fasten your seatbelts everyone. The revolution will not be motorised.