I was in central Brighton today with my husband and we bumped into a good friend and his daughter. We have an ongoing banter about using the bus (which he hates) and he commented on the fact that he had taken the bus into town and couldn’t believe the cost of the ticket. I responded ‘well at least you didn’t bring the car which has a bigger cost to the planet.’
I have long been aware of his and his family’s car use (yes, even for super short trips that would take 10 minutes on foot and are well documented to be a big contributor to congestion, pollution and climate change) but nothing prepared me for his response. ‘That’s not true’, he said, shaking his head. He has a great sense of humour and must, I decided be joking. ‘You’re joking right?’ I said. ‘No’, he responded emphatically, ‘it depends on the type of car’. ‘You are honestly disputing the destruction that cars cause to the environment?’ I asked, while my husband went on to point out the planetary impact in the manufacturing of hybrid and electric cars. We said our goodbyes and I promised to send him some of the mountain of evidence that exists on this subject.
His attitude got me thinking. If someone I know well and consider to be an intelligent human being disputes the impact of cars (hybrid or electric ones too) on the planet and all those who live here, perhaps education is the priority when it comes to #CHANGE!?
The damage that cars cause to the planet is now taught as part of the GCSE curriculum in science, geography and as I learned today, even RE. It has been documented and evidenced by governments around the world, leading scientific and research bodies, the UN, the World Economic Forum, major universities from Oxford to Harvard, health associations from the WHO to the NHS, reputable media outlets including the BBC, not to mention countless environmental bodies from Greenpeace to the WWF and Friends of the Earth.
In our email exchange that followed, my friend said I had misunderstood him, that he was talking about hybrid and electric cars, and that food and agricultural production had a worse impact on the planet. As a meat eater himself, I’m not sure where he was going with that one.
It seems that despite the fact that to manufacture cars (yes hybrid or electric ones included) we blow up mountains, extract the earth’s (fast depleting) metals inside, use up the water and wipe out the wildlife in the process, whilst also breaking down communities making us more selfish and individualistic, the message still isn’t getting through.
So if the facts are all around us, why do we continue to live in denial? Because it’s easier? More convenient? It’s what most people do? If we justify our bad behaviour at Christmas or any other time and choose to believe that there are ‘good’ cars (hybrid or electric) and ‘bad’ cars (the ones responsible for the pollution), do we honestly believe that this binary approach gets us off the hook?
He ended his email in love and peace ‘however you choose to travel.’ So I wonder, do we have a right to choose to destroy this world? And how do we change that?
If you are interested in behaviour change and want to take part in my #CHANGE! project email me firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation on Twitter #CHANGE! @benitamatofska and if you haven’t already, take my 1-minute survey and find out if answering a survey can change the world.
 Driven to excess: Impacts of Motor Vehicles on Residents http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/15513/1/WTPP_Hart_ParkhurstJan2011prepub.pdf