Tackling climate change is going to be inconvenient

Mon 4 – Sun 10 April 2022

The week I did my first UK work trip for well over 2 years. I did a journey to Newcastle and spent a couple of days there liaising with our new team discussing the social impact they want to have locally. My first time on a packed train for ages and it made me think about travel. How it is a good thing but it can also contributes to climate change.

If you want to see the ongoing roll-out of climate change then there is a good article here. It’s too easy to become a fatalist or downplay what is coming leading on to thinking there is nothing worth doing. But we can take action and we need to – another good article here.

Sustainability

Can growth (including travel) be good for the environment?

There’s a big debate in the green movement – does all economic growth cause climate damage or can you have green growth that doesn’t contribute to climate change? My feeling is that if growth is about renewable energy, housing the homeless, and caring for our ageing population then that is inherently good. But if growth is about people buying more cars, make up, and airline flights then that is a bad thing.

over consuming

Travel sits firmly in the middle of this debate to my mind. It widens the mind but the type of travel we have created based on flying and cars is causing climate change – no doubt about it. And for me, the journey is as important as the destination. ‘Slow’ travel (i.e. buses, trains, boats, and walking) is not a bad thing giving us more time to think and relax whilst not screwing the environment.

“Forever is composed of nows.”

Emily Dickinson

Flying is evil – use only in moderation

It worries me enormously that as the pandemic retreats so people go back to their old habits causing climate change. In particular, flying. I see people rushing to book foreign holidays and business travel taking off again.

And when people are challenged, their response is always about convenience. Clearly if people are travelling to the other side of the world then you need to fly. But within the UK? To France, Belgium or the Netherlands?

I have decided to limit myself to 2 return flights this year: Berlin in June and Torremolinos in October. Theoretically the latter may be possible by train if I’m not working and time isn’t a premium.

Climate change is happening but we can make sure it is not the worst case scenario. Yes that will mean inconvenience. What is the point of convenience if it kills people? Lots of greenwashing by companies and politicians but we as individuals can make the difference.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

Newcastle

Took my 3 hour anti climate change London to Newcastle train journey on Wed. Yep, felt strange to be back on a packed train and nobody was really wearing masks. Arrived and checked into my hotel then went for a walk around this great city.

I love urban settings and Newcastle is clearly an earthy city. History, decline, and the quest for a new future are all around you. So different to London in that the latter increasingly just becomes a tourist travesty and a home for dodgy overseas property investors.

Two nice meals with a focus on eating less meat – another contribution to fighting climate change. Italian and Turkish, who says the North East isn’t cosmopolitan? Also pottered round the shops though shops are basically the same the world round – a good reason not to buy stuff because it is rarely unique.

Met my colleagues at their new office on Thurs, details on this and my meetings with some great local people below. Then a very crowded but pleasant 3 hour train journey on Friday.

Tech for Good

Local action

Basically ended up working four out of five weekdays with the main emphasis being on Newcastle. Good to be up there talking with the people in our new Northern office about Tech for Good and how they might be involved locally. And great to discuss it over a vegan lunch.

People taking action locally

Obviously I wanted to use my time in Newcastle to have the greatest impact. Indeed, that is what tackling climate change is about – using the minimum amount of resources to have the maximum benefit. So apart from meeting with our local team, I had two productive meetings with people taking action locally.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” 

Theodore Roosevelt

VONNE

First meeting was with Anne from VONNE. This is a membership organisation representing not-for-profit orgs in the North East. Most of these regional representation bodies have gone in other parts of the UK. A symbol perhaps of the distinctiveness of the North East region.

Anne oversees, amongst other things, the work VONNE is doing to support local orgs in doing digital better. An example of this is the Digital Pathfinders initiative – details here. Worth mentioning that we met in The Magic Hat Cafe, a project using surplus food that would go to waste otherwise – highly recommended.

Stomping Ground

Second meeting was with John and Sophie from Stomping Grounds. This was a recommendation by a colleague. A North East social enterprise running Forest Schools encouraging people to reconnect with nature especially children and young people. A really imaginative and inspiring initiative that is growing. Not directly Tech for Good but perhaps an organisation for our Newcastle office to connect with and support?

The importance of planting trees

Work Life Balance

I loved my trip to Newcastle but I am left feeling knacked after last week. OK, about 6 hours was just spent sitting on my fat arse on a train. But we all know travelling is tiring (why – is it to do with breathing in ‘recycled air’?) and I was still working on stuff whilst travelling. Indeed, I arrived back on Friday and had an early night whilst Dave went out clubbing and got back at 6am!

Dozing bulldog

I am so looking forward to my work colleague returning from sabbatical in May. And then I can go down from working 3 days pw to just 2 – what I call semi-retirement.

Can I afford it? Things will be tight but living on a restricted budget is good for climate change. Not indulging in destructive over-consumption, rather focusing on just what you can afford and need. As I have said before, the most important thing in my life these days is simply time.

If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit

Health and Efficiency

Gym

Because I was in Newcastle, there was only one gym session last week which makes me sad. But it was a good session on Tues morning. Great that it was me on my own in the gym due to it being a weekday mid-morning. As I wasn’t coming again later in the week I did a lot of exercises focusing on building up my leg muscles to combat my osteoarthritis.

20 sessions from the start of the year when my annual membership restarted = £25 per session.

range of dumbells

Weight and walking

No news on weight as I didn’t fancy weighing myself at the weekend LOL. Basically I reckon my eating and drinking in Newcastle won’t have taken off any pounds. And, it was a busy working week, which meant there was a lot of comfort eating.

Would rather wait to weigh myself till a time when I’ve actually made an effort to try to lose weight (or at least keep it on a plateau). Though I did do a fair bit of walking last week which in itself fits that brilliant cross over between trying to stay healthy and tackling climate change.

walking feet

Friends and Family

The mums

Trip to Newcastle meant I didn’t spend as much time as usual with mum during midweek. But I did spend time with her at the weekend. She sleeps a fair amount when I am there but she just likes knowing I am around. Meanwhile, Dave’s mum makes slow progress in being able to walk again. We are all going up to see her at the end of April.

My former colleague Nic

Managed to meet up with my former colleague Nic on Tues evening before travelling to Newcastle the next day. We worked together at Comic and it was lovely for her to reach out to me to see if we could meet after she finished work. A nice catch-up at the ICA – a place I like but which always feels like it could be so much more exciting. Nic is doing well and it was fun to tell her about my plans for semi-retirement in the near future.

Institute of Contemporary Art in London

Art and Culture

TBH, nothing really to report on this for last week. However, the reason I mention it is because I had a plan to visit a gallery whilst in Newcastle. The one I was hoping to visit was the Laing Art Gallery in the centre of the city – details here. But didn’t happen as the gallery is only open 10-4.30 Mon – Sat and does not open at all on Sundays. Probably due to lack of money, blah, blah, blah. But if museums and galleries don’t open then how do they expect people to visit them?

Art that made us

Must make a recommendation for an excellent BBC programme I saw during the week (whilst in my hotel in Newcastle). ‘Art That Made Us’ is a study of British art from a contemporary perspective. The first episode looked at art during the Dark Ages from the angle of a ‘hybrid’ society – a melting pot of different communities and groups such as Britons, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings. The attempt is to draw a similarity with the mixed modern British society.

Earth without art is just eh

Personal Development

No point in pretending this was a good week. The busyness of work and my trip to Newcastle meant that I didn’t do as much learning as I would have liked. In particular, didn’t manage to do Duolingo each day. That’s my ideal but it didn’t happen. Oh well, there is still next week and my future of semi-retirement. Indeed I have so many plans for doing more personal development and learning in the future.

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

William Shakespeare

Books and Reading

My target is to get through one book a week. And this section often features in my blog with details on the book(s) I have completed. Have to report that I finished none of the 4 books I am currently reading. The two I am nearest to completing are Andrew Taylor’s excellent historical crime novel ‘The Royal Secret’ and the equally excellent ‘The Magician’, Colm Toibin’s fictional biography of Thomas Mann.

Did pop into the local library on Saturday just to have a wander around. Picked up three new books that I hope to read in the near future. There are always so many books to read though. Don’t forget, you can see the range of books I have read here. I often use this page to check for myself whether I have read a book. And also to sort out where I am in a series of books.

be grateful for books

The Week Ahead

  • Easter next week. A holiday time I perhaps love more than Christmas not least as the weather is generally better. I’ll be helping tackle climate change by doing little and recuperating. No big shopping trips for me nor flights abroad. Rather walking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
  • It may well be a ‘book week’. With any luck, I will finish both Taylor and Toibin. Then the pleasure of moving onto at least one new read.
  • Should be able to get to the gym twice – on my day off on Tues and Thurs morning
  • Will continue to live frugally and sustainably as my personal contribution to tackling climate change
  • Will be spending a fair amount of Easter with mum. Me and Dave are also planning to take our friend Patrick out to lunch.
  • Hope to get some control over my food intake, do Duolingo each day, plus get more art and culture in my life

And Finally…

All sides commit atrocities and war crimes during conflicts. However, some people are worse than others. No-one could say the Allies and the Nazis were equally as bad as each other in WW2. Similarly, the main atrocities in Ukraine are being committed by Russia against unarmed civilians. We are living through a war against fascism where people are fighting on our behalf so we don’t have to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.