Hello and welcome to the site!

Y’know, it seems like recently there has been a lot of movement in the academic community, especially in the Euro-American world to find ways to experience academic life which have a lower impact on the environment. We try to be paperless wherever possible, emailing and using VLEs to communicate with colleagues and students, recycling bins are almost ubiquitous at every campus I have visited, universities are reducing the parking availability and introducing bus services in partnership with local companies and all sorts of other amazing initiatives are spreading across our community.

One area we still seem to fall down on, however, is transport to see our colleagues across the world. This blog is intended to pull together a range of different opinions from academics and other related professions to explore how we can decarbonise our travel and lead by example.

My name is Earl and I began my interest in this aspect of academic impact when I started my undergraduate degree way back on 2010 (okay, so maybe not that long ago, but long enough!). I fell in with a crowd of researchers at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, most of whom focussed their research on aviation and international transport. The (then) director of the Manchester Tyndall Centre, Prof. Kevin Anderson was one of the most passionate advocates for low-carbon conferencing I had, and still have ever met. I suppose in some ways, the blame for my high-cost conferencing lies squarely on Kevin’s shoulders.

Picture of High-Speed Thalys Train

I am now in the fourth year of my Doctoral study, I have another 6 months to go. In the past four years, I have attended eight international conferences, and only taken a (return) flight once. Yes, I have the distinct advantage of studying at a UK university, with continental Europe only a short 2-hour train ride away, but I believe this whole travel thing can be cracked – if we just begin to think differently about how we relate to one another and the value of slow travel.

Ivan Illich discussed (as early as 1974), that high speed is one of the greatest sources of inequity in modern societies. He argued that only through pedestrian and bicycle transport could true social equality be achieved and a reconnection to our authentic selves be made. I would disagree here, travelling long distances overland and via seaways provides an interesting way of rediscovering ourselves.

This blog is set up to help others who might be thinking about these issues. I and the other contributors to this site will be chronicling our travels to various parts of the world, both by low-carbon and high-carbon techniques, to discuss the relative difficulties, benefits and experiences gained. I would welcome any discussion you would like to add, either via email: earl.harper@bristol.ac.uk or through the comments on each post. If you would like to contribute a post, please also get in touch with me to discuss the options.

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