The Climate Change Pact

It often feels like everyone knows we’re at the end of our involvement in the climate crisis before it gets out of control, but there’s some kind of pact where everyone denies its existence in order to avoid shaking up society. They would all rather die than give up their cars or stop flying away once or twice a year.

A tiny group of climate scientists and normal citizens think that they’re the only ones who understand how much trouble we’re in and have to spread the message to everyone else. But in reality, they all know, and we’re the only ones who are in the dark about the pact.

It sounds ridiculous, and it is. But it’s not much more ridiculous than the world we’re actually living in. Meteorologists present today’s weird weather with a smile, not a word uttered about climate change. Maybe a nod to the heat or rain being unseasonal for the time of year, but that’s the most you can expect. Even when records are (frequently) broken, they are careful to avoid making it sound alarming in the slightest. Don’t want viewers to spit out their tea and make a mess do we?

During the insane heatwave in Western America and Canada recently (the last one, not this one), BBC News showed some people in a fountain trying not to roast to death, and when the camera came back to Fiona Bruce, she had a smile on her face as if they were frolicking on a 25 degree day. Not a 50 degree dangerous situation where hundreds of people were dying.

In Japan is where this situation is most unbelievable. They get so much “climate change rain“, landslides, typhoons etc. And yet, when you watch the weather forecasts on NHK World, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is completely normal and expected. Yes, you get the daily red boxes of doom where they show any weather records. They should be enough to terrify viewers, but they’re delivered in such a lovely calming way by the presenters that you barely notice it unless you’re climate change obsessed like me.

I don’t know what the reason for this is. I’d like to think that the meteorologists are being expressly told not to talk about our impending annihilation, rather than their own personal decisions. But no matter the reason, it’s got to such an insane point now that something has to immediately change.

People have to know the true extent of what we’re facing, and if they do know, they need to get their heads around it so we can act in a way that will give us a chance of a future on this planet. Time is running out and meteorology is betraying all of us.


How I would Nationalise Britain’s Railways

Imagine it with a B instead.

Great British Railways. I don’t know about you, but to me it comes across as an arrogant, old fashioned branding exercise to attract Tory voting baby boomers who are desperate to be told that Britain is still the best. We need a modern, simple naming system like that of Japan Railways (JR). BR South, BR North, BR London, BR Scotland (if they stay with us) etc. We would have a unified logo but with different colours for each region and matching train liveries.

Simple JR branding on the side of this Yamanote Line train

Unlike the Japanese system, we need to fully nationalise it. Privatisation works in Japan because trains are the default way of getting around, and it’s a priority for government to keep it running smoothly and the technology up to date. They will spend big to prop up the private operators. In the U.K., cars are the primary mode of transport and because of that, rail has been underinvested in. The infrastructure is out of date and the prices are high because the government has left it to rot. And private companies are probably not going to invest in improving the service if they don’t see it as an effective transport monopoly as most of the lines are in Japan.

Grant Shapps compared Great British Railways to the London bus and Overground systems. That’s not what we need. We need full public ownership of all of our transport networks. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to make rapid changes in sustainability, pricing and general appeal in order to end car ownership in the face of the climate crisis. It’s not enough to just build bike infrastructure or incentivise e-scooters (not that we’re doing either or those). We need to do everything possible now to cut emissions and make us a healthier and happier society. Public ownership and investment is the only way.


Why Road Bikes Should be Called Sports Bikes

Road bikes suck for commuting. They just do. They require huge amounts of maintenance, they’re uncomfortable, you have to wear special clothes, they generally don’t have built in lights, they’re magnets for thieves. They just don’t tick the boxes for most commuters.

In general, with a commuting bike, you want something that is reliable, durable, practical in terms of storage as well as built in lighting. Unless you’re commuting more than 10 miles, I wouldn’t even think about using a road bike. And even then, now we have e-bikes, you can have speed and comfort, so why would you ride something that’s going to be painful on your backside and your hands, is totally impractical and has a pretty good chance of being nicked.

I was watching an episode of Japan Railway Journal a few months ago now when I started writing this post and saved it as a draft. It’s an NHK World show about the incredible Japanese railways. In this episode, they were showcasing a special train designed to take road cyclists and their bikes from Tokyo out to the seaside in Chiba, the neighbouring prefecture.

The train was kitted out with everything a cyclist could want including dedicated hanging bike storage for every passenger. But as much as I loved the train and the concept, the thing I want to talk about is what they called the bikes on the show. They didn’t call them road bikes. They called them Sports Bikes. What a great name for them. The term road bike is a pretty stupid one really. We ride all sorts of bikes on roads.

When you talk about Mountain Bikes, you know what that term means. It generally means a bike for serious off-road riding for either professionals or amateurs with a serious interest in that type of riding. Sports Bike would be the equivalent for performance tarmac machines. I think that’s why Gravel Bike is also a better name that most of us previously thought. The more obvious the name, the better.


How To Get Worthing Cycling Without Doing Anything

Worthing council is famous for being unwilling to do anything to encourage cycling (aside from literally encouraging it). This is a special post for the powers that be over there. The definitive guide for getting people cycling in Worthing for the lowest possible price: free.

1. Introduce bicycle hire (including electric bike option) with docks everywhere. The Donkey bikes are good but no where near enough.

2. Introduce car free weekends.

3. When people realise the town is better without cars, ban private cars all the time.

You’re welcome.