During a recent international conference in the Bahama to discuss how to reduce air travel I spoke to some of my fellow environmentalists and campaigners. One of the subjects which dismayed us all was how environmentalists have been successfully protrayed by the well funded corporate lobby as being Luddites.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The Green movement embraces cutting edge technology to address the looming problems we must face.
Our hospitals are filling up with infants barely able to breathe, Norwich will be drowned by 2004 and 8/10 children are so overweight that they have to be rolled to school. The three crises affecting Britain today are the toll of global warming, as shown recently by the snow storms that have beleaguered much of the North and West, inner city congestion that chokes our most vibrant communities and finally our expanding waistlines as we grow up eating too much and exercising too little.
What do they all have in common? They are all caused in total or in part by the selfish motorist. Car drivers are taking up an ever increasing proportion of the land as our insatiable need for speed in order to build motorways and car parks.
What if I said there was an alternative to cars that would reduce emissions, cut congestion and cut the deaths from road crashes in half. If I now tell you that the technology to do this has existed since the 1970s readers might start to wonder whether I've gone mad. Yet it does exist. Two words- Pogo Sticks.
.The words pogo sticks elicits a fixed reaction in almost everyone who hears them: “What about when I fell of my pogo stick and cracked my skull when I was 7”. It’s as if, every time someone proposed travelling on a cruise ship, you were to ask, “but what about the Titanic?”. Whilst pogo technology has advanced there are still problems, the pogo stick is slower than the car and cannot carry as much luggage. The bouncing can also damage the roads. In truth safety technology has advanced greatly since the 70s with helmets and elbow pads available very cheaply.
But with travel so much easier and the roads so much clearer who could complain about such trifles? The coalition makes much of it's environmental credentials yet Chris Huhne, the Climate Change Secretary has released no funds for pogo research, nor has Andrew Lansley the health secretary despite professing to be serious about tackling child obesity. If we just scrapped Trident we could ensure that everyone had their own stick. So far it is a Pogo no go.
A more serious objection to banning cars and moving to pogo sticks will benefit the rich who will buy bigger sticks which they won't share with everyone else. The answer is simple, anyone with more pogo than is strictly necessary should be forced to share with those less fortunate. A committee of ethically aware individuals could determines which pogo sticks everyone has to ensure no one has more pogo than anyone else, except members of the Pogo Committee who surely deserve special Pogo Sticks for all the hard work we, I mean they, will be doing.
It may be a distant dream but perhaps this is the only alternative to the Earth burning up in a fiery ball.
Interesting definition of optimism
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