19 June 2009

170 Days - Compassionate Climate Change Solution #6 Get Ready for Alternative Transportation

Are you old enough to remember when flying was still special? I am. And I have a dear elderly friend who is old enough to remember when nobody took airline flights. They stayed home, walked, or took the wagon (or the sleigh in winter).

Getting to zero greenhouse gas emissions means changing how we do things, and one of the most interesting things we're going to change is how we get around. No more "I popped to Los Angeles for the weekend" or "I'm heading home to see my family in Australia for the holiday."

Nope, people are going to start living where they're born. And vacationing close to home. What a concept!

In the meantime, here are ways to get ready for the alternative forms of transportation that we should all be calling for:
  • Get fit. Think about transportation for a moment. Have our legs (at least in the developed nations) truly become vestigial, like our appendixes? Have cars replaced our legs, like prosthetics? Let's start using our legs again, by walking and bicycling. If we start young, or get back in shape and then stay in shape, we'll be able to walk to our graves!
  • Take a Hundred Mile/Kilometre Vacation. A change is as good as a rest, so you don't have to go far to go on vacation. Become a tourist in your hometown. Swap homes with a friend across town. Stay in a local fancy hotel or theme motel. Want to go further afield? Take a bus or train, a bicycle path or a subway to the end of the line. Get off. Explore.
  • Join the Slow Movement. Just slow down. So what if dinner isn't eaten til 8 pm? Don't head out to insert-name-of-fast-food-joint here (on your prosthetic, fossil-fuelled wheels!) because you're tired after work or can't think of what to cook right away. Relax. Take your time. Say no to commitments that will make you rush through dinner. Or start out earlier and walk and talk and nibble.
  • Learn to love staying home! Sleep on your balcony or in your guestroom or backyard. Make your home cozy. Get to know your neighbours. Plant a garden and enjoy watching it grow. Literally ... take a cup of tea into the garden every day and see what's changed. It's a delight! Take up a winter hobby that creates something (embroidery, woodworking, gourmet cooking) — spending more time at home does not mean spending more time watching TV. Volunteer at a local food bank, hospital or seniors centre (that you can walk, bicycle or bus to).
The point is that times are changing and we have to get ourselves weaned off fossil-fuel dependent forms of transportation. Why not start now while it's a fun challenge? Oh, you don't think this will be a fun challenge? Well, as my friend, visual essayist Franke James, says, "Do the hardest thing first!" (She got rid of her SUV altogether.)

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