Saturday, December 26, 2009

At the Bus Stop

Location: Slovenia
Bus route: Hoce-Maribor
Monday, December 17, 2009

I'm standing at a bus stop waiting for the bus. The sky is cloudy. I look over at the clock of the nearby church. 4:05 PM. The bus still won't come. Not surprisingly, as the road lanes are jam packed with endless lines of cars and trucks. The air is filled with exhaust fumes and the noise in unbearable.I have time so I'm counting the passing vehicles and how many people are sitting in them. In a single minute, I count 48 cars with one person, 5 with two and 3 with three people. A simple calculation shows that about 66 tones of steel passed by, carrying about 4.5 tones of passengers. Crazy. A 93.2% of steel mass is being used for transportation of only 6.8% of human mass.Finally, the bus is here. I step on and pay the fare. My eyes glance over at the seats. A young man's sitting in the back. Including the driver and myself, that makes three of us. So, this 18 tones heavy bus is transporting 3 passengers. Let's calculate again. The math shows unbelievable ratio: 98.8% towards 1.2%.The bus takes off. I look out the window. Still, lines of cars, bumper to bumper. Across the road, I see a supermarket with a car-filled parking lot that's three times larger than the building itself. I'm trying to find some bicycle riders or pedestrians. None anywhere. The bus passes by the first stop, then the second, third, fourth, fifth. Why didn't we stop? Because nobody got on or off.
That's the state of the Slovenian public road transit. Majority of people in cars, some in buses, a few on bicycles and almost nobody by foot. Such a shame and most of all extremely irresponsible behavior of all towards the environment."Is the car really more important than the environment?" I ask myself as I wait again for the empty bus with cars speeding by. I count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6... 1126... 147,688... 18,663,744... 650, 098,434... The line is getting longer and the dark cloud above us is growing bigger and bigger.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Expand Free Public Transport

Civil Society has to reflect on the failure of the last decades of climate politics, realising that state leaders won’t save the world. It is up to the people to unite in social movements and fight for fundamental changes, thereby breaking the hegemonic discourse about climate change. This includes influencing policy-making on all levels, popular education, acts of civil disobedience as well as living and practising alternative livestyles. This has to happen within communities and during the COP15 summit. Let‘s make Copenhagen a turning point of the global climate movement – which will eventually force governments to take real action and implement appropriate policies.

  • the provision of massive funds for adaptation and climate protection especially for the Global South in order to repay the ecological debts
  • a clear commitment to technology transfer
  • a radical altering of official climate policies (e.g. ban of new coal power plants, introduction of strong state regulation)
  • Beyond that, we also need profound changes at the domestic level:
  • questioning endless capitalist growth and the „western“ way of consumption
  • halting trade liberalisation
  • achieving food sovereignty
  • concrete projects for the transformation of socially and ecologically harmful industries (these technologies have to be phased out)
  • the expropriation of energy companies in order to develop a decentralised and democratic energy supply
  • support for refugees worldwide
  • leaving the fossil fuels in the ground
  • expanding free public transport [our emphasis]