Daring to be different….

December 9th, 2019

I’m returning to the subject I started this blog with – the joy of train travel.

We had such a brilliant holiday in May travelling by train around a number of European cities (7 in 15 days… possibly a bit excessive/ambitious for most people, but that’s us…!).

I’ve just caught up with a Radio 4 feature about train travel – on December 2nd’s You & Yours edition, if you’d like to find it.

Apparently, Britons take more flights than anyone else, according to the International Air Transport Association. We flew 126 million times, which means that every 12th flyer in the world is British… a bit shocking…

The guest on the radio programme was someone who runs the website ‘Man in Seat 61’. He’s urging holidaymakers to see train journeys as an integral part of the holiday. We certainly saw wonderful countryside, particularly in the Czech Republic. Czech Railways apparently offer amazingly cheap trips. It’s all about planning ahead and doing research. thetrainline.com and raileurope.com were mentioned. It needn’t be more expensive than flying – the train enthusiast said ‘like most things in life, putting in effort is rewarded…’. And airports aren’t life-affirming places, are they…?

International travel is more of a problem, of course – and long-haul flights produce more carbon emissions. This wasn’t covered in the programme. Let’s start somewhere, though…

On a UK general election level, the Liberal Democrats and Green Party are the only ones committed to absolutely no more airport expansion – this seems an environmental requirement to me, a ‘no brainer’ as they say these days….

In the middle of all the political upheaval and uncertainty, The Guardian today is focussing on 10 topics that unite us – a welcome change from ‘divided Britain’ reporting….

As many as 95% of Britons think climate change is at least partly due to human activity, according to the 2018 European Social Survey. That’s a hopeful statistic (climate deniers at last are nearly a thing of the past, in this country anyway). But does it translate to us thinking we need to do anything about it? Are we willing to accept massive changes in our way of life?

Pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment is no longer an option, according to a major new report from the European Environment Agency.

Its director, Hans Bruyninckx, said: “We already have the knowledge, technologies and tools to make key production and consumption systems such as food, mobility and energy sustainable.”

In this country, the Labour Party told the Guardian (again! such a good paper…!): ‘this election is our last chance to tackle the climate crisis. We’re already off course to meet our targets and radical and urgent action over the next five years is essential.’

Not sure how this statement is reconciled with the party’s reluctance to stop airport expansion; but anyway I was cheered to read that the green industrial revolution (Green New Deal) has been going down well while Labour has been canvassing in post-industrial areas (where ‘nobody has talked about reseeding with high-skilled work for decades’).

A topic that is not covered by this online survey of political parties’ plans is waste.

One of the EEA’s huge ambitions is to stipulate that products must be made to create no waste.

People have definitely embraced the need to turn our backs on plastic – many bring their own shopping bags (as in the good old days when I was a child!) and metal water bottles & coffee cups. 

Apparently, soda streams are experiencing a surge in popularity, as people want to add fizz to tap water rather than buy (& bin) bottled water.

The cleanliness of oceans is on the agenda again – a report published by Greenpeace International is aiming to create new sanctuaries and forge a new treaty to protect the oceans.

‘The ocean’s biology is one of our best allies in the fight against climate change’, said Louisa Casson from Greenpeace.

Supermarkets still package far too many products in unnecessary plastic. Sainsbury’s have introduced ‘action on plastic’ , but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I think Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Anita Rani will be on television again with a follow-up to their ‘War on Plastic’ series – watch out for it…

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