Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Summer Holidays

This year we decided not to go anywhere far away that required air travel, so we took a few days in Wales. The trick is to set out in the expectation that it will be a gloomy wet week, cold and very windy, with cloud on the hills or even in the valleys. Then if you have even one brief sunny interval, or a momentary clear patch with good views from the top of a mountain, you come home thinking how fortunate you've been.

Strictly speaking a car would not have been necessary for the first part of our holiday, since the place we were staying would have arranged for us to be collected from the nearest station. But for the last day we had to go to Lampeter. Interestingly, we discovered from an old map in Aberystwyth museum (one of the places where we whiled away a few hours of a wet day) that the railway used to go to Lampeter, along with a great many other places, in days gone by. How vastly life would be improved now if that were still so!

In any case, taking a car enabled us to take wellies, walking boots, umbrellas, waterproof trousers and a mountain of books to read, all of which were very useful. At least, I took wellies, despite Robin's reluctance, and was very glad of them.

Apparently, according to, if we'd gone by train, the carbon emissions for a simple return journey from Cambridge to Morfa Mawddach and back, would have been 102 kg (51 kg per person). It seems to me odd that it's doubled if two of us travel, since the train would have run anyway even with just one of us... But I suppose you have to divide the total emissions of the train by the passengers it carries. That would make it a bigger total the fewer people were carried, not twice the amount when you carry twice as many people. Ho hum.

As it was we went by car, and according to Cloud Amber, the same simple return journey in the model of car that we hired and with two of us travelling, would typically have emitted 52.1 kg per person, a total of 104.2kg for the two of us. This is not much more than the emissions for the train journey, probably because the route by car is a bit shorter.

So I think in this case, I shall not list this particular journey as one of my guilty secrets, although doubtless we did a few extra miles by car on the little outings to wet and windy places during the holiday, which otherwise we would have had to do on foot (or maybe just not do them and read more books instead. Reading books seems to be a low carbon occupation, particularly if the books are second hand and there is enough daylight to read by).

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