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Saturday, 13 October 2007

Climate change in Greece - getting rid of my car in England

I'm back to working at the computer at the kitchen table. Lin says 'Your hair looks as if you've been in a wind tunnel'. Back here the media bombard us again. In-trays mount; brows furrow; lawns need mowing. I do wave and nod as I cycle through the city but I am also enveloped in its anonymity. In Ano Korakiana Democracy Street has already provided us neighbours, ceremonies, encounters and a smaller world that is, at the same time, not isolated. On Monday 29th October 2007 I will finally be rid of my car, having owned one for nearly 40 years. The family's not 'carfree' - more car-light - because Linda still has hers. This is more about me than overall CO2 emissions at our house - not reducing so much as slowing the rate of increase. I've been thinking about this for over a decade. Many would say my sense of urgency is unimpressive. Flying continues to be one of the ways we go to Greece. When we are on Corfu we hire a car - though when I was there with my friend John Richfield in February we travelled by train and ferry and cycled on the island or took buses.
To get to know a country, you must have direct contact with the earth. It's futile to gaze at the world through a car window - Albert Einstein The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart - Iris Murdoch When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race - H.G. Wells
Last year I added a comment on Castle Morpeth Councillor Nic Best's contribution to 'thinking outside the car' on the I&DeA website:
Like so many, the 'problem of the car' is a wicked one. The arrival of the car changed settlement patterns determined by earlier forms of transport, shifting attitudes to time and distance. Helping to reduce car use requires understanding of how to change car-created environments - as these influence every walk of life. The car created untold opportunities to access distant places, along with door-to-door conveyance of people and goods. Banning or raising the cost of car use, in an auto-created environment , endangers business and reduces many people's quality of life - built around their reliance on the car and their enjoyment of this way of travelling. As someone who shifted to cycling, walking and public transport some 10 years ago I'm well aware of the obstacles to my new ways of getting about and carrying things. If government made things easier for me, life would be more difficult for the auto-dependent. As it is the freedom promised by the car is becoming more and more conditional, as its numbers increase and the collateral harm of car use becomes ever more evident in pollution, congestion, noise, car associated crime, with its consequences for legal and insurance costs and road deaths and injuries that continue to destroy many more lives than other forms of transport. The car economy is geared to human desire and spending, supported by intensive advertising in ways that blights the emergence of other forms of transport. The car's increased safety features (for drivers and passengers) has - via risk compensation - involved an apparent advantage being used to allow even greater speeds. Motoring organisations, in criticising the regulations that have been introduced to reduce speed and ease congestion, have managed, astonishingly, to depict motorists as victims - when in fact motoring victimises. I see it as vital to move away from the car's ability to create greater access via mobility, and the hypermobile culture of which the car is the mainstay [see Prof. John Adams' blog and in particular his writing on hypermobility and the value of policies and values that nurture access by proximity - a dimension of the Lyons' "place-shaping" agenda].
There are dire predictions for the future climate of Greece. There is some good news but Tania Georgiopoulou at the same web address writes:
This summer's repeated heat waves are just a foretaste of what's to come, according to experts. The average maximum temperature in July, now 33 degrees Celsius (91F), is expected to climb to 41C (106F) in the next decades, and average rainfall levels are forecast to drop by 20 percent or even 80 percent in summer months. Scientists believe that despite efforts by the European Union to limit the effects of climatic change to two degrees Celsius, the average increase will be at least 3.5 degrees over the next few years, with varied effects on different parts of the world. The Athens Observatory's Group on Energy Planning, Climatic Change and Sustainable Development has studied the effects of climate change in Greece over two years to April 2007. The results (link to PDF version of their report) show that there will soon be energy shortages, crops will be affected and large coastal areas flooded. Athens will face water shortages.
* * * To remind me to be less serious, the gods sent round my neighbour's grandson for a cup of tea. He told a bizarre tale about his Sunday League Football Club's transformation. As a solution to successive defeats every player, including him, has changed their name - passports, bank accounts and so on - to the name of a selection of international football stars. This has clicked with the media and Lynam Athletic have had stories all over the place on television, in the red tops as well as The Times and Guardian. They've also been doing far better since they made this decision. 'When did you decide this?' 'Down the pub' said J. now Vladimir Petrovic or was it John Terry? Linda calls this 'Grand Theft Autograph'


  1. Its Petr Cech now but thanks for the mention the more atention we get the better

  2. Sibadd said...

    My ignorance! Vladimir Petrovik is a Russian basketball player while Petr Čech is the Czech Chelsea goalkeeper.

  3. This might be useful if you need to use a car ...

  4. Marvellous! You're Simon the Bromptonaut?

    I now live in the north-east where public transport is absolutely marvellous, and I am thinking after a similarly long gestation period, of giving up my car shortly. I cannot cycle much: it's far too hilly, but I do love my little B and will get much more use out of it once I've worked out where to get the puncture repaired. But that's really just a digression.

    Congratulations, I am so pleased for you. :)

  5. Thought you might like this site


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