I have got properly soaked on the way to or from work twice in the last 10 days. Neither drenching was pleasant, but neither was a big problem because I was prepared and I am waterproof. A cycling friend of mine at university reckoned that if you cycle to work regularly you’ll get properly drenched 11 times a year. I’ve never counted, but I don’t think he was too far wrong.
As a teenage Christian, I was nearly as annoyed as Greta. The Christian narrative – God made the world good, we stuffed it up, Jesus redeemed us and calls us to redeem the world – seemed to point clearly to our responsibility to care for our planet and the people on it. Any yet everyone still drove to church…. Because everyone drove everywhere.
For the last 20 years we have paid slightly over the odds for Green electricity at home. I was delighted to discover today that since 1990 UK greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation have fallen by 57%. It was so good to be able to tell the kids that they have been part real progress towards good stewardship of our planets’ finite resources. At the same time however, greenhouse gas emissions from transport have stayed more or less static.
This is partly because the UK is still absolutely addicted to cars. I went to a parents evening at a local school recently. I think most of us live within 2 miles of the school. Nearly all of us drove. We have a chronic parking problem in our small, thriving town and yet lots of us still drive our kids to primary school or to the shops and then get eggy with one another about our driving / parking. Some days it’s hard to park at our local sports centre because we’ve all driven 1.5 miles to get there.. Obviously there are people who need to drive due to infirmity or advancing age. But if we’re fit enough to play sports, surely we’re fit enough to get there without a car.
There is a cheap, simple, two wheeled solution to this problem. It will mean a soaking 11 times a year, but that’s OK if you’re ready for it. There is also a slightly more expensive solution for the hills (Wotton’s favourite excuse): earlier this summer my son and I were overtaken just before the top of a 1000m climb up a Swiss mountain pass by two chatting ladies on e-bikes.
Extinction rebellion are right to challenge the status quo (I think Tyndale would be more embarrassed that was remembered with a monument than he would be annoyed about it’s use for causes other than his own). Corporations and governments need to change policies, expand public transport routes and subsidise e-bikes. But we need to change too, even if it means getting the occasional drenching.