Sunday, October 21, 2007

doing it right

This is the view of Lake Geneva from the Easyjet flight back to Bristol. Yes, I flew. It's often a misconception that I am anti-car, anti-flying etc. This is a big mistake. I love driving, I love flying. But I'm sensible enough to know that these things are ending, that they are rapidly becoming part of history. I'm not personally worried about adding to CO2 in the atmosphere, because all this frenetic drivel about Climate Change (we must recycle, must change to low-energy bulbs, switch off appliances etc) is just cover for the really big issue, Peak Oil. The environmentalists are as guilty as the leftists on this. They are REALLY scared about Peak Oil because it will change everything. And leftists and their polar opposites environmentalists have this one thing in common - they are terrified of discomfort. Climate Change, in its diluted developed world form will merely offer a Hollywood spectacle to our fat friends in the US and elsewhere. Okay, millions in the UK are going to lose their homes to coastal and inland flooding, but we're overpopulated anyway.

So I'm no more guilty about flying than I would have been guilty about riding the last real steam trains in the UK in the sixties. Seeing history unfolding is great. Air travel and car travel are quickly becoming nostalgia as they breathe their last. And we're flying twice more in the next 4 months, to Budapest and Prague.

It is funny seeing air travel still convincing itself that it's a developing industry rather than a dying one, with new routes opening, laughable airport extensions still being considered and all the infrastructure coming in just twenty years before it all withers.

So, like me, make the most of it. We will if we're lucky develop a Europe-wide high speed rail network that will still get you places at a reasonable pace, but our kids will never experience a one and a half hour trip to Geneva, not as adults anyway, any more than we can experience Mach2 travel to New York any more.

The Swiss transport system is superb. As well as trolleybuses running to the centre from the airport there is also a direct train link from the terminal to the city centre that takes 5 minutes and costs just CF3, about £1.30!

This is a tram from Cornavin station to the UN Building. This line is just 3 years old, Geneva is rapidly expanding its tram system, which had withered to just one route in the 80s. Travel is effectively free as hotels give their customers free public transport tickets. The trams are fast and clean and vastly superior to diesel buses.

This is the terminus of the Gornergratbahn, near Zermatt. This is at over 10,000 feet above sea level. Again it is electrified, using hydro electric power, from power stations hidden somewhere in the mountains.

Switzerland is miles ahead of the UK in preparing for Peak Oil. We need to begin to develop an all-embracing, cheap and efficient public transport system here at enormous speed, using renewables and nuclear power. We owe it to ourselves.
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