Friday, 25 December 2009

Why it matters

Climate change – how we have caused it and how we propose to deal with it – is ultimately about resources, rights, and health.

It is about water. It is about food. It is about energy. It is about minerals, timber, and other natural goods and services - Natural Capital.

It is ultimately about who has access to those things, who doesn’t, and why.

In other words: climate change is about humanity. It is about human rights, social egalitarianism, and – simply put – people.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Copenhagen reflections - Lucys perspective

Now I'm back on UK soil and I'm thinking back over the trip and what I have learnt, how I have changed and whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist. Lets see....

Lesson 1: I'm not alone. There are many passionate educated activists from all walks of life who are pushing for change and are willing to get on their bikes and cycle across Denmark in Winter or travel with their own funds to march for Climate justice. Along the route we met many plucky well informed change makers willing to stand up and ask for real deal.

Lesson 2: The best way to communicate is openly and to combine the facts with good storytelling while adding a human element. I certainly feel I have more stories in my catalogue and I'm proud that I made it to Copenhagen. Especially as at times I felt like giving up. Thank goodness for frozen raspberries and the motivating support of Team Carbon Cycle! (I love you Ben, Lorraine and Dougal. It was tough but oh so worth it. Hope you agree!)

Lesson 3: We may never know the total impact of our actions. OK so we raised £2500 for our charities and made a blog - Actions we can easily account for. But hopefully we have change a few hearts and minds or motivated others to reflect on their lifestyles and question where we are going as a race and whether the way we are living is sustainable in the long run.

However we haven't achieved the fair, ambitious legal deal that we had hoped for. This is shameful and I'm grieving for the people that will lose their homes and way of life due to climate change. I'm grieving for the losses to biodiversity from climate change and environmental destruction. It pains me that that our world leaders do not understand how we are intimately linked and dependent on our environment and the services our natural ecosystems provide. And I feel near powerless to do anything about this apart from keep communicating, keep sharing my thoughts and getting out and about in the world I care deeply about. I do still believe we can create a fairly, cleaner more enlightened society. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

I'm quietly optimistic. I do think the tide is turning. We are all interconnected. We live in symbiosis with those around us and we are intimately connected to our environment. Nearly every day I meet someone who lifts my spirit sand encourages me to believe that we are creating a new world free from pollution and based on clean green energy from wind, wave and solar. And if we don't succeed? Well at least I will know I did something.

I intend to celebrate the new and try to keep walking in the light; cheerfully, simply and joyfully.

Further reading: Details of an appropriate sustainable energy mix. David McKay is a professor from Cambridge University and now is a government advisor to DECC. http://www.withouthotair.com/synopsis10.pdf

Powering a green planet: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=powering-a-green-planet

The Copenhagen Wheel - An idea for TfL?

Cool tech from the Cop15

1st Entry: The Copenhagen wheel.

This nifty device fitted to the rear wheel of a bicycle can be controlled through your smart phone. You can use your phone to unlock and lock your bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you. As you cycle, the wheel’s sensing unit is also capturing your effort level and information about your surroundings, including road conditions, carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. You can then further access this data through your phone or the web and use it to plan healthier less polutting bike routes, to achieve your exercise goals or to meet up with friends while on the go. The data can be shared with friends, or with your city - anonymously if you wish – thereby contributing to a fine-grained database of environmental information from which we can all benefit.



The Copenhagen Wheel will be unveiled on December 15 at the COP15 UN Climate Conference. The project was conceived and developed by the SENSEable City Lab for the Kobenhavns Kommune. The prototype bikes were designed with the help of Ducati Energia, the technical partner and funding from the Ministry for the Environment. Progical Solutions LLC provided technical
support for the iphone control of the bikes. Find our more from this site.

http://senseable.mit.edu/copenhagenwheel/

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Day 11 - Au revoir Copenhagen...

With great sadness in our hearts we packed our bags for home. After a delicious breakfast with Martin we headed for the train to Esbjerg. As we departed the city, snow began to fall and we settled down to review the countryside we had spent 4 days cycling through the week previously. We had some time to kill in Esbjerg so we got some food and drink in the city centre next to a packed ice skating ring. If it hadn't been for all the bags we would have been on the ice like a shot. We boarded the ferry around 6 pm. On board we met yet more copenhagen cyclist/activists. A couple who had cycled to Copenhagen on a tandem and Tom and a couple of scientists who had cycled and got the train to copenhagen for the day of Action. We spent the evening in the bar debating the science and comparing stories.

One of the main topics of discussion was the theory of "climate grief" and the work of Ro Randall director of Cambridge Carbon Footprint and a psychotherapist dealing specifically with the psychological understanding about climate change. Interesting stuff and certainly very timely.

References

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/eco.2009.0034
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/eco.2009.0034?cookieSet=1

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/112224959/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Cambridge Carbon Footprint on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53087583534&v=info

Additional details of the concept can be found here. http://www.ntsg.umt.edu/files/5StagesClimateGrief.htm

Day 10 - World of work and Christinia Raids

So it was a sad morning waking up without our comrade Dougal who had left the night before. After a lie and brief wander around the main city centre, Lucy and Lorraine went to check out the Bella Centre, where the main negotiations are taking place. We arrived to find a strong police presence and long queues of people trying to get access to the building. After making a few enquiries we realised that there was no point sticking around as even many of the pre-registered NGOs were not being admitted.

We decided to go and check out another site of action, the "world of work" forum (a COP15 fringe event) where unions and people from the energy sectors were meeting to discuss various new technologies. We choose to sit in on a discussion about carbon capture and storage, a very hotly debated issue. My opinion is that CCF does not make clean coal but it has the potential to make cleaner coal. Although skeptical I could see the rationale behind some of the arguments for investing in CCF. Discussions revolved around the need to make a smooth transition to clean technologies and renewables and the necessity for continued fossil fuels while we build new clean green infrastructures. We need energy for the steel industry in order to manufacture the required wind turbines for example. A representative from the Australian energy unions told how they had identified CCS and solar thermal energy as the main priority for research funding and had been working closely with WWF australia to ensure that proposals are acceptable to the NGOs. Also discussed were legal liability of CCS. Basically that means who is liable if the carbon escapes from the storage sites or while being transported between capture site and storage site. It struck me that we have great interim energy needs while we build new infrastructure. It will a take time and it is critically important that we do not the squander the remaining energy with have and put strict limits on the amount of remaining fossil fuel reserves we use.

In the break-time we met a young group of trade union workers from the chemical industry. They told us of their experiences in the workplace in Belgian and had travelled to Copenhagen to make sure the bureaucrats in the talks remember the needs of the workers actually doing the hard graft.

We later headed back to the Klima forum to find Ben who had been to a number of lectures including one by Bill McKibben on the 350 campaign. Apparently the president of the Maldivs was also present. After a spot of networking with other activists (mostly from Sussex University) we head off to Christiania (an autonomous zone, also known as 'free-town') to hear Naomi Klein, of the No Logo fame address the Reclaim Power party. After quickly getting some amazing veggie curry and a quick glass of Glogg we listened to the plans for the next big day of Action due to take place on the 16th. Tensions were running high as we had been hearing how the G77 were repeatedly walking out of negotiations. The panel discussed the plans for the people forum to be held outside the Bella centre. A fair deal must include appropriate reparations to the developing world.

After the talks Ben and Lucy headed home to drop off bags, planning to return later for the party that was just getting started. Lorraine stayed behind to dance to the amazing beats and meet some samba-activist friends. Some time later, an announcement was made that the area was outside the tent was full of tear gas. The police had surrounded Christiania! We could hear bangs, a helicopter buzzed overhead, and reports from others indicated that the police had a water cannon. A barricade had been built by activists, and there were reports of things being thrown. The atmosphere was one of shock and fear, as police don't normally enter Christiania.

This was Lorraine's first experience with tear-gas, and she was very frightened, but more experienced European activists helped her by putting lemon under her eyes, and helping her to find her bicycle to get home. The most dramatic moment was just as she was about to reach an exit, and she realised the tops of all of the buildings had police on them, and the police were storming right into the centre, bringing dogs with them, and encircling the people present... they were about to cut off her escape route! Luckily a little climb over some stacked up tables (with bicycle), and she was on her way out. 10 seconds slower and she would have been detained. Police had declared the area a search zone, and were kicking down doors and windows to enter the buildings. Cycling back to town along the river it was apparent that the whole area was heavily surrounded by riot police and vans. It is difficult to see how the sheer numbers of riot police were on-site so quickly, unless this was a pre-planned raid.

More details: http://indymedia.dk/articles/1772

Monday, 14 December 2009

Day 9

Today we leapt out of bed bright and early as we had an appointment in the harbour with the Felmsburg students who sailed from Germany for the march. Although gloriously sunny it was extremely cold and icy. After circling the city centre a few times we found the quayside and the 3 wooden sailing ships chartered by the students which were moored closely to the Greenpeace Ice breaker, Arctic sunrise. The students excitedly told us of their adventures at sea and gave us the grand tour of the boats.



In order to raise the funds to sail to Copenhagen, the team had organised weekly campaigns for months in the city of Flensburg to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The boats were beautiful wooden sailing vessels designed for fishing and were over 100 years old. Each boat had 15 bunks and beautiful well-stocked kitchens with wood burning stoves. The crews were of mixed ability, with some experienced offshore sailors and some not, but all three had experienced captains to guide them across the North Sea.



Next stop was a tour of the Arctic Sunrise, a 1970s ex-seal hunter and Ice breaker AKA the Arctic seasick, due to its lack of keel (needed to if it is to be an effective ice breaker). We were given a grand tour by the deck hand Paulo who regaled us with tales of saving whales, angry whalers with harpoon guns and high pressure hoses and scientific explorations around the poles.



This was also, sadly, Dougal’s final day in Copenhagen as he had to return to the UK to begin shooting for his music video (which the rest of us had been ribbing him about all week). He had to pack his bike up into a bag in order to be allowed on the train, which was then cancelled, and packed with other people looking to get home that weekend – hopefully he still made all his connections!

That evening we went to an event called Sitopia at the Dirt CafĂ© about food, the production of it and its relation to the climate. We had previously met a chap call John who was speaking at it, and he got us in to what was otherwise an invitation only affair. We all very much enjoyed the Sitopia event, and all the interesting speakers they had, who were from a wide variety of disciplines but who all had a common interest in food and its place in society and the environment. In particular, it’s worth checking out the book The Hungry City by Caroline Steele. Check out the blog here http://www.hungrycitybook.co.uk/blog/?page_id=9

There were a number of story-tellers sharing food related experiences and projects. One speaker, from a Copenhagen city social project, told how they were providing nutritious food to 60,000 Copenhagen residents in Nurseries, schools, hospitals and care homes with a budget of 40 Million Euros. The food is prepared in 1300 kitchens around the city. One of the key novel aspects of the scheme is the designation of food hosts (8000 in total for this project). The role of the hosts is to assist in making the consumption of the food provided a joyful and social experience – which could be described as an holistic approach to nutrition, with understanding of the importance of ritual and preparation that goes into the act of eating, and in direct contrast to the fast food culture that prevails in our current society. Currently the food provided is made from 60% organic ingredients. However it is hoped that by 2015 the produce will be 90% organic and locally sourced. They hope to spread the scheme throughout the rest of Denmark.

John Manooocheri, the sustainability consultant, lecturer and urban designer we had met the other night, gave his opinions on how to think about food in relation to good urban design. Check out one of John’s recent articles in the BBC green room on how it may be useful to think of saving the human race in terms of an issue in scale of importance and scientific thinking as the space race. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8351318.stm

Also speaking at the event was Clare Patey, from the Ministry of trying to do something about it giving her experiences of the many new food and allotment projects in London that have sprung up in recent years. Clare is the artist behind the clever carbon rationing booklets I love. Clare is currently seeking funding to roll out the project to a wider audience so if anyone can help then get in touch. Her website will be up and running soon:
http://thebiggerpicture2009.org/festival/ration-me-up

All in all, an exhausting but thought provoking day. Copenhagen has definitely lived up to expectations so far. Tomorrow we plan to visit the Bella centre and see where the serious political action is taking place. Over and out. xxx

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Day 8 - International Day of Action in Copenhagen


Dawn arrived and was ignored as we enjoyed a much needed lie after a week of a rigorous schedule off wake up calls (no, really). While Dougal and Lorraine checked out a Greenpeace demo, Ben and Lucy dragged themselves out of bed to make it in time for the Global Day of Action, leaving from Christiansbourg Castle and heading all the way to the Bella Centre.

Despite finally being off our bikes, it still felt extremely cold, and we stood around and shivered for a bit until everyone finally started walking. For some reason the organizers insisted on placing each party in a queue, calling out each groups name. We dutifully waited our turn, expecting to be called out in between the likes of Greenpeace and Oxfam in order of importance, only to discover that the our four man crew weren’t mentioned at all! Shocking, I’m sure you will agree.
Despite this, we ambled our long way to the Bella Centre, narrowly avoiding being caught in this nasty scuffle and kettle: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8409331.stm

Check out a video of the incident on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=557512072044&ref=nf – we certainly didn’t see anything to provoke that kind of response from the police

Our long march to the Bella Centre finally paid off when we arrived after long hours of walking and chanting. By that time it was completely dark, and after listening to some of the speeches decided to head back, walking the full distance back again as the metro was completely full.

Day 7 - Ringsted to Copenhagen

Day 7

The final push (90km) to Copenhagen! We left bright and early joined by the German students. The weather was bright and sunny. Spirits were high! We made good speed. Having the extra numbers some how increased the average speed and prevented too many stops. Maybe it brought out a competitive spirit in us all or maybe we were simply eager to get to Copenhagen – probably the latter! The ride was steady and uneventful. We met a man on the outskirts of the city who informed us that police had kettled a group of protesters on a bridge. We passed some beautiful scenery reminiscent of our training trip to Norfolk, but all the while made excellent time, stopping just once for 15 minutes or so to grab some food and figure out our route for the next route.

The weather turned later in the day, and it got cold in quite major way. After a seemingly endless series of small cycle lanes in the outskirts of Copenhagen, we finally found ourselves on a major road heading into the city! We rolled our way down the incredibly crowded cycle lanes, getting in the way of the local riders with our massive panniers and wobbly steering, not to mention dodgy brakes.

Arriving at the station, we said goodbye to our German friends, promising to swing by their boat and meet later in our stay here. We were also met by a friend of Lucy’s, Dr. Christopher High, who congratulated us on our ride, before we headed off to find our accommodation, safe in the knowledge that our journey was practically over. We turned up on the doorstep of Martin, a friend of Dougal’s who was kindly putting two of us up for our time here; Marlene was putting up the other two of us.

Martin made us feel very welcome, plying us with food and drink, and we had a healthy supper there before we split up with two of us heading over to Marlene’s apartment. Leaving our stuff there, we headed out on our bikes, which felt very fast with no panniers on! We found a trendy French wine bar, and enjoyed a beer (despite the six page wine list) before heading back to our respective hosts for the first nights sleep where we did not need to get up again the next day.

The amazing takeaway we got food from: www.madglad.net

Refill your own water bottle and save the planet



Bottled water. An unnecessary waste of energy and plastic. Choose to refill a water bottle and be Eco-logical.

Amazing blog article about Leeds University banning bottled water and the environmental costs of the worlds stupidest product. Get yourself a sigg bottle and fill up for free.

http://zoecormier.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/the-great-bottled-water-debate/

Day 6 - Odensee to Ringsted



We left rather late today as Mads had arranged for a journalist and photographer from a local newspaper to document our trip and hopefully write a piece about it in the local paper.



They turned very punctually – unlike us, who were nowhere near ready to have our photo taken. The photographer seemed very interested in Lucy’s bloody knee, while the journalist took details of our mission and what we were doing. We had no idea what they would do with all this, but it seemed like a great idea so we went along with it all.



We set off in driving rain, and messed around in town for a while and eventually found a much needed video cable! We eventually left Odense, and headed for Neyborg where we would get a train to leave Fyen, and cross the bridge into Sjaelland (in Danish this means Soul Land), where we would continue on to Ringsted.

We carried on through miserable weather, until Lucy’s knee got so bad that she departed our group to get on the train and meet us in Ringsted – only to discover that the local railway station had closed 10 years ago (but not after cycling an extra 5km to find this out). We finally got to Neuborg, where we jumped on a train to get across the water, and decided to also carry on to the next hostel – it was extremely late by that point, and very wet and cold, and we couldn’t really leave Lucy by herself on the train (we are a team after all…).

At one point on the journey Lucy noticed some rather water logged fields and requested a shot stop for some camera footage. While discussing the importance of soils and nitrous oxide emissions we got some of our (possible funniest) footage yet. As Lucy was attempting to seriously explain the facts, an incredibly hunched backed old lady appeared in the background dragging along her rubbish. Ben, being the gentlemen he is, offered to help her with her rubbish and this cued an hilarious exchange of Danish and English where neither understood the other. Check it out here…. (Dougal add link please!)



It wasn’t long after that that we made it to the station where we bumped into a woman called Susanna who recognised us from the website of the newspaper that Mads had got in touch with! Susanna wished us luck on our journey and told us of her hopes for the Copenhagen summit. Apparently her son was also on route cycling to the city! Check out the write up from the Danish newspaper here: http://www.fyens.dk/article/1383505 The journalist included all our names, who we were raising for, and even the URLs of our justgiving sites (www.justgiving.com/thecarboncycle and www.justgiving.com/thecarboncycle2) - what a legend!

In the Youth Hostel in Ringsted we encountered a group of German University Students from Flemsburg on route to Copenhagen. They were studying Environmental Management at Flemsburg University and were all passionate campaigners for action on Climate Change and reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions. Aenne, the daughter of an organic farmer, told us how the farm she grew up on has solar, wind and biomass energy on site. The farm, a mix of dairy, meat and arable, uses the waste from the animal productions to power a biogas plant. She told us of her ambitions to learn about renewable energies and influence policies on sustainable agriculture and environmental issues. Janina, a semi pro skier was very honest about her reasons for studying. After spending all of her spare time growing up in the mountains, she has seen first hand the melting of the snow, the retreat of the snow line and melting of the glaciers. She simply would like to be able to continue skiing in the future so figured she should get involved and learn how to prevent dangerous changes from happening. Martin and Hendrik’s interest in the Environmental movement and renewables was sparked in school. They both agreed that it would provide them with good career prospects for the future. Aenne, Janina, Hendrik and Martin were part of a larger group from the University who were also on route to Copenhagen. However their team-mates were on route by sail. They chartered 3 yachts and were sailing the route from Flemsburg to Copenhagen. We were very impressed by their spirit, knowledge and commitment. Dougal commented that if he has kids he would love them to be grow up to be like them. Very high praise indeed!

We agreed to rendez-vous in the morning and complete the final leg of the journey together.



Over and out.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Day 5 - Fredericia to Odensee

We had the noble intention of setting off bright and early. However a brief peek out of the hostel window revealed an interesting site - it seemed we had been transported into Gulliver's travels. - there was a miniature village next to the hostel,



which we delighted in setting up all sorts of ridiculous camera shots in.










We got going, and in our guilt to make up all the time spent faffing around in the village, we nearly flattened a large group of german pensioners - many cries of 'Schnell, schnell, the British are coming!'

We passed over the older of Middlefarts two bridges, in a day dense with fog, and cycled down a long wooded track, onto the coast of Fynen, and up onto Cycle Route 6. This track was particularly pleasant; long, rolling hills that reminded us of the english countryside, winding through fields and wind turbines, all poking out through the mist.

Lucy knees continued to hurt, so we had to add more frozen raspberries to Lucy's knees in order to get her all the way to Odense. We decided that if Lance Armstrong had to put frozen fruit on his knees, he would probably choose raspberries.

Having passed through the scenic side of Fynen, we entered some dark and wooded part of the track, rather like the blair witch project - and were even more put off by the thoroughly confusing signage in the woods - no love for the Danish cycling route administration, who caused to have endless debates about which route to take.



We finally found ourselves on the outskirts of Odense, rather cold and quite damp. We brought a couple of cakes and bottles of wine for our hosts - the lovely Mads and Sarah, who we arrived at about 6, earlier than any other day. Mads and Sarah were both couchsurfers, and it turned out had hosted over 50 people in their time. Mads had googled Lucy after not seeing a profile pic or references on her couchsurfing, and read all about The Carbon Cycle; impressed with our mission, he arranged for a local newspaper to send a journalist and photographer to do a piece about us tomorrow morning - what a legend! After a wonderful meal cooked by Mads and Sarah, we interviewed the pair of them, who both made excellent, articulate subjects with English that put ours to shame.

This is the captain of your ship, calling

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Day 4

After faffing around for far too long in the morning, we left rather late – nearly 11:30! We headed for our halfway point, Kolding, and then onto Frederica our hostel stop for the night.

Setting off it quickly became clear that the terrain would be substantially more hilly than yesterday – or as hilly as it’s possible to get in Denmark. Lucy’s knee continued to hurt, so we attempted to find a bag of frozen peas, as this had eased the pain previously. Instead we settled for frozen raspberries and Lucy cycled for the day around Denmark with a bag of frozen raspberries strapped to her knee. That rationale here was that raspberries are more tasty to eat once defrosted – waste not, want not and everything!

Once in Kolding we had one of the best cups of hot chocolate any of us had ever tasted, and Ben brought new pedals, as one of his seized up almost completely, and his attempts to fix it had previously failed.

We carried on through the southeastern side of Jutland, lost track of the cycle route and spent far longer on a busy main road than any of us had really wanted to, and went up and down some actually quite interesting terrain. We discovered the real knack of dealing with hills, which is to build up as much momentum as possible prior to hitting it, and then quickly switch the gears down as we power up the hill. The hills are so small in Denmark that by the time you’ve done all that, you’re practically at the top already.

Arriving in Frederica, we had one of the weirdest coincidences of the trip when we met Mads, the kind man who is offering to put us up tomorrow night at Odensee in the supermarket while we bought our supper. (http://www.couchsurfing.org/)

We arrived at the nearly deserted, but thoroughly gorgeous and very modern hostel at around 6:30, cooked a very tasty vegetable stew, drank some wine, marveled at the vending machines which dispensed beer, wrote this blog and then went to bed! http://www.hihostels.com/dba/hostels-Fredericia-016037.en.htm

Day 3

Day 3 dawned bright and early – or it would have done had we had a window in our cabin! After dragging ourselves out of an unseasonably good nights sleep, we went to breakfast (which some of us paid for), ran into Jonathon and Nancy from the Campaign Against Climate Change and chatted about agriculture and associated greenhouse gases, and in what form the demanded 1 million green jobs would take were they to ever materialise.

After hastily scoffing down as much of the buffet as we could, we went to our meeting with the Captain – or rather we went to reception, and they rang the bridge, who sent someone down to let us up. We met him and his first officer while the ship seemed to run itself. They graciously indulged our childish behaviour around all the very expensive equipment, while Lucy demanded the Captain’s hat and attempted to take control of the vessel. The Captain explained the workings of the ship, and even let us press some of the buttons, sounding the ship’s horns and alarms and turning on and off some of the navigation lights above the bridge – they call it the Christmas tree.

We also interviewed Chris High, a lecturer at the Open University, who specialises in systems thinking, but who is a keen scientist and a recent convert to activism. He was always a green living cyclist, but has now taken the step into full on campaigning, and is a part of the Creative Climate Project. This is a mass observation project tracking cultural responses to climate science and data, in conjunction with Jo Smith (http://www.open2.net/creativeclimate/index.html).

After freewheeling very fast down the exit ramp from the ferry we found ourselves for the first time in Denmark. Despite knowing full well that people drive on the right on the continent, we still managed to get ourselves nearly killed by oncoming traffic, but were hugely impressed by the wide and clearly marked cycle paths – some of them even had a whole kerb between us and the road! Best of all however were the separate traffic lights at some of the junctions, which let cyclists get a head start on all the motorised traffic.

We plugged onward, well into the night in order to find our first hostel at Vejen. We even got a little lost on the way. Whilst carrying our some much needed bike maintenance, we bumped into Mark Robbins from the RSPB (http://rspbcop15.tumblr.com/), who straightened Ben’s wonky front wheel, and came to dinner with us whilst his team mate retrieved his passport.

We had a slightly inebriated time at the local boozer, where a somewhat portly retired policeman repeatedly attempted to feel up both Lucy and Lorraine – much to their disgust. We also sought medical advice about Lucy’s knee, as she had inured it a few days prior to setting off. Medical Advice (Ben’s Uncle) recommend Lucy not continue the trip – Lucy decided to think about this untit he morning (no priozes for guessing the outcome of that decision!)

The bar was the closest thing that any of us had ever seen to a real life version of Moe’s Tavern in The Simpsons. Having survived the experience we returned to the hostel, and to bed.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Day 2 - Colchester to Harwich Via Recycle!

After a chilled evening in the B+B we set off in pouring rain to visit the Recycle depot in Colchester where we met Derek. Derek gave us a whistlestop tour of the workshops and the warehouse stacked full of bikes. They were preparing for a shipment of 300 bicycles to be delivered to Africa. The warehouse was really impressive. There were loads of seriously cute bikes that had been either collected or donated. Some bikes would be the dream cycling machine of a hoxton assymetric haircut artist. Particularly impressive was the Royal Mail, who have many bicycles but who previosuly were unable to donate them due to liability issues - the average working life span of a Royal mail bicycle is 7 years and they make ideal bikes for africa as they have rear racks and a huge steel front basket - we saw one picture of a father carrying a load of firewood on the rear rack, and his ten year old boy on the front!

Setting off from Colchester proper, we motored to Harwich, expecting to be just in time for the ferry, only to discover that all our long hours of training had really paid off - we got there with nearly 2 hours to spare! We passed the time watching model boat races (something that particularly interested Ben and Lucy, as they were sailors themselves), eating fish and chips and drinking beer. It seems that the old men racing their model yachts need to wear their sailing kit whilst on dry land as well as at sea. Who knew?

Once on the ferry it was clear that it was packed to the deckheads with other people going to Copenhagen, and mostly for the same reason as us. Particularly deserving of a mention were Mark, Sophie and their 5 month old baby Samson, who donated £50 on Mark's Iphone whilst waiting in the queue to board the ferry! Other fellow travellers included another Mark from the RSPB whose friend had left his passport at home, Nancy and Jonathon from the Campaign against Climate Change, Chris the Systems Engineer from the Open University, John from the Bike Bloc, and Tamsin, Ben and one other whose name we didn't get who were going to Copenhagen for 'Shits and Giggles.'

Dougal met the Captain in the Cafe, and wrangled us a trip at the bridge the next day. After listening to an aged Scottish sailor play to a small, but appreciative crowd in the bar we retired to our cabin. The ship rocked gently across a fairly calm North Sea and we all drifted off to a good nights sleep.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Our new logo!

Day 1 - The Wave

Day 1 of our cycling tour kicked off in London Inn Fields where we met up with the "stop climate chaos coalition" for the cycle tour through London. On route we met up with a lovely group who had cycled from Bradford to London to join the demonstration. They were at the end of their trip and we were just beginning.

After a few rallying speeches we set off with a friendly police convoy through the streets of London passing the BP headquarters, EON and the Canadian embassy. We were very impressed by the police; mostly on bicycles themselves, friendly and very slick; temporarily blocking off junctions ahead of us and behind us.

Maryla Hart from Biofuel watch gave a speech about food versus fuel, a topic close to Lucy's heart in particular. The current biofuels proposed in reality offer very little in carbon saving or overall greenhouse gas savings. In some areas rainforest is being cleared to make way for biofuel plantations which releases carbon, and in others peatlands are being drained. To make matters worse, many biofuels require fertilisers and pesticides for cultivation - so when a "whole lifecycle" approach is taken, biofuels may offer little in the way of reducing carbon emissions. Lucy says " a personal experience of this area of research is from studying nitrous oxide emissions from oilseed rape, the crop used to make biodiesel. As nitrous oxide is one of the most potent greenhouse gases with a long residence time in the atmosphere, these emissions play a significant part in the cost/benefit analysis. In some cases the production of oilseed rape biodiesel uses more fossil fuels than you save overall. A nonsense!"

Next stop was hyde park and speaker corner where my brother for waiting along with a mob of peaceful activists. Both Simon Hughes and Caroline Lucas gave excellent speeches on the need for action, as well as stirring words from Ellie Hopkins of the UK Youth Climate Coalition. Caroline Lucas was kind enough to give us a ringing endorsement of our mission, as well as providing a nice bit of footage for The Stupid Show (www.ageofstupid.net/stupid-show).

We nearly managed to track down Peter Mandelson and Ed Miliband as well, although they had left by the time we found the Labour Party group. All in all though, the march was amazing; The Independent reckoned there were 40,000 people there! Ben says "It seems like way more than the previous two years that I have come to this march."

After the march we headed back to soho to meet up with Lorraine who had been playing samba at a world record attempt of tree planting. After some yummy vegan nosh from Vita organic we set off. After literally 30 seconds we encountered our first mishap. The complete collapse of Dougal's panniers.

We left for Colchester once we had repaired the panniers, and stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the Dutch quarter of the city. Lucy had twisted her knee earlier, in an accident which nearly caused a human dominoes catastrophe. Cue an evening of hot bath and frozen pea compresses.

Over and out. xxx