Rather than share a little time with many on Christmas day we have an ‘early’ Christmas which leaves everyone free to meet other commitments on the big day and probably enjoy it more.
This year we headed to the Coromandel to celebrate our early Christmas and it was very successful. Our AirBnB was perfect for the five children and five adults; with a playground outside and a pool table inside the kids were able to (mostly) entertain themselves.
On our way back we had booked into an AirBnB in a dot-on-the-map place called Miranda. The intention was, amongst other things, to cycle a recently completed section of the Hauraki Rail Trail from Miranda to Thames.
The weekend also coincided with the wrap up of yet another climate talk fest in Katowice in Poland. If we expected anything other than a lot of hot air from politicians (and of course plenty of carbon from all the flights to get there) then it appears that we have not been dissapointed. However, one address that caught my attention was that of the Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who lays it out plain and clear for the so called adults attending. The video clip is worth viewing if you have not already seen it
Reading a little about Greta, she walks the talk; does not fly (the family drove by EV to Poland) and even refused a nomination for a climate award becuase it would require her to fly, she only shops when she actually needs to replace something and has dropped meat and dairy from the diet.
I was reflecting on this as we cycled along on our ride today. The bike trail has been built along a seawall that effectively stops the extensive farmimg (and residential) areas of the Hauraki plains from being flooded by the sea, no doubt an ever increasing risk. There was little between the mangroves and the farm land and we noted during one stop that even now water was being pumped from the land back to the sea. I reckoned that in places the ‘wall’ was only about 30cm above any current high tide. I suspect something similar to that required to satisfy Trump is what may be needed in the future.
On our drive to the Coromandel I was also shocked at the extensive reinforcing that has been added to the coastal road, effectively changing the whole nature of the drive. Rather than the natural coastline that we enjoyed as kids, large lengths of the coastline now consist of man-made sea barriers. The result is not particularly attractive compared to its original state but without it the road would no longer exist.
Our ride today was further preparation for our upcoming cycle touring in February that will take us from Rotorua to Wellington of which close to 700km will involve pedal power (with a little pedal assist on the hills). One of the negatives of the ride is that we will be sharing the roads with other (much bigger and faster) vehicles. We have tried to plan the ride to avoid busy roads and will use cycle trails where these exist.
What shocked me the most during our last travels was the huge growth in tourist volumes. When I researched tourism growth a little more, I discovered that; 1.46 billion passengers flew in 1998. That had grown to 3.8 billion in 2017 and is forecast to grow to 8.2 billion by 2037 which of course assumes that Greta and her supporters have not changed the World order by then. Apart from the carbon aspect, I don’t know how the current ‘must see / bucket list attractions’ will cope. They don’t now.
We decided after our return from Asia this year that we would no longer fly longer haul for our travel adventures. We may still make the odd flight for family reasons but we have redirected our attention to enjoying holidays at home and as far as possible, off the beaten tourist track.
Cycling is a great way to travel and experience your own country. However, most people who I talk too think that you are a little bonkers to go on a road where there is the likelihood of even one car passing you. Maybe we should be investing our roading expenditure a little more wisely and rather than building for bigger vehicles and more motorised traffic we should be gearing up for a future where people can also safely travel longer distances, with families, by cycle. If they cannot travel overseas, it is probably a good idea to give them more adventure options at home. The other benefit of such adventure is that it is cheaper meaning that mum and dad don’t have to work as hard in order to afford that International get-away.
By focussing on home grown adventures and getting fossil fuels (mainly) out of our transport options we should be able to reduce our carbon footprint by around 60% over the next year. Beyond that it gets a little more challenging. Food is the biggest cuplrit, dairy and meat in particular, and we are going to have to make some dietary changes if we want to lower those footprints further. Interestingly, the things that we are changing probably result in better health and finances.
Maybe we should stop cycling. Seeing what is actually happening to the countryside that we are riding through and having the time to reflect on it is all a bit life changing.