As a mountaineer and an environmentalist, I am bothered on the inactivity and callousness of men towards lifestyle changes that would at least attempt to reverse the upcoming environmental decay brought about by our current lifestyle. I have actually written this out of frustration; as a permanent note on my Facebook account:
Environmentalism and religion have one thing in common- both have, and will fail.
Failure of both lies to the fact that both contradict the very core of humanity which is consumerism and self preservation (a.k.a. selfishness). Even if Christ himself gave his followers the ultimate key to salvation which is in giving up everything and following him, 99% of Christians will not dare do that.
Similarly, even though scientists tell us that the Earth’s survival depends on our change in lifestyle- 99% of humanity will not do that. Humans will only do such a thing if he is already directly affected; if the consequences are just in front of him, ready to kill him.
What led us to be the successful specie will also lead us to our doom which is our adaptability. Humans even find ways to mask and sanitize such radical concepts to make it acceptable and adaptable to his selfish needs. For example- religion now teaches us that we do not need to give up everything- that faith alone and not work is important. It even learned to embrace living with the rich and powerful in contradiction to very strata of society which Jesus came for. Humans are also doing the same for the environment- as if using re-usable bags and unleaded gasoline and holding Miss Earth pageants would save our environment. And doing your own little way is enough?!
What makes matters worst is that both environmentalism and religion contradicts each other in a deeper sense. Religion values human being above all and such mentality swept all other creatures as low priorities and human population so sacred that its growth should not be curtailed. In an environment with scarse resources what is the priority of saving a specie compared to saving a human being? If things will not reconcile, and if humans will not be forced by government and/or religion to change their lifestyle then it’s very difficult to imagine that there is a future for our Mother Earth.
We are a society with so much freedom and our insistence for our rights would eventually kill our society. The right to own two cars, the right to eat a portion and dispose of the rest of the food, the right to have what you neighbor have, etc.
And I expect nobody will agree with me, because if they do agree, then I am wrong in my assumptions.
And by the way, I myself contradict me…
Though I am a conformist and the last thing I would like is to stick out as a sore thumb, I wrote this down even if it makes me look like a tree hugging loony.
I admit I am also (most of the time) living on my own space, my own selfish ways; thinking that the world and my life is disconnected. But at least I have some claims of attempts to do something concrete and not just do lip service. Since this site is about biking, then the specific action I would like to mention here is about my attempted and continuing attempt at bike commuting.
It was a natural progression for me, being a bike lover and a nature lover too, to consider bike commuting. But mine was full of conditions. I started my bike commuting when I had the opportunity to work in a company which has shower rooms facilities- my first major condition. It was really logical then- I stopped my gym (Fitness First) membership as bike commuting will be my physical activity and at the same time it would save me money from my gym membership fee. Then I would be able to ride my bike a lot while having this feeling of doing something useful for the environment however insignificant that maybe. My routine was to bring my car to the office on Mondays with 4 sets of clothes on it. Then I commute going back home that Monday. Then I use my bike from Tuesday to Thursday. Then commute again on Friday morning to take back my car home Friday night. I was coming from Angono then and was working in Makati. It was 19 km of bike commuting one way and it took me around 1 and a half hour which is sometimes faster than when I rode my car due to traffic. Though it was exhausting, the body was more alert and happy the entire day compared to before. As proven by my climbing and riding experience, a refreshed mind is more powerful and/or favorable than a sored body. One thing I was adamant during those time is the Filipino mentality of bike commuting as only for those who are less privileged (or maybe its not only here in the Philippines). Discrimination is rampant. And in a country where people have too much pride, it doesnt help promoting this movement. I remember one time I entered the parking of PhilamLife building in Makati and I was harassed by the security guards. The next day I stripped my car sticker parking pass from my car and brought it with me so that when I enter the parking lot, I shove to their faces my car pass attached to my bike. To make it more effective, I studied routes which are shorter and with less traffic. I was able to do it for about a year and after I transferred work with no opportunities for a shower, I stopped. I could have joined back the gym and use its shower facilities to continue bike commuting but my new mid shift and night shift schedules prevented me in doing it.
It has been more than 5 years since then when I started to try it out again. This time the office I am working for does not have any showers but it is only about 10 km from home so I don’t think I will be sweating a lot doing this route. It takes me around 30 minutes to reach the office so this time I rode my bike already wearing my work pants. I only change my shirt after reaching work but I also have an extra pants on my panniers just in case some unexpected situation arises that would warrants a change in pants. The route I am taking passes by the usual routes of the normal bike commuters (those that do it because of real financial matters) and in my previous experience- riding with them is also fun and ads color to the commute as most of the time, they initiate challenges by just giving “the look”. And this racer boy’s pride would not let an old beater bike beat his more expensive ride. Though I often win these small skirmishes, there are still those days that my ego gets whipped and it’s doubly hard to accept that it happens from the hands of a rider whose bike’s cost is not even compared to the price of my seat post (and thats my “consumerist” side). But this time around, having casual attire like wearing work pants to ride the bike mellows me down to ride at my own phase despite being given the look. To also avoid sweating much, I do this ride ala “walk in the park.”
Currently I am not doing it as often as when I tried it a few years ago. In fact I started it with only during Friday casual attire days. I am still figuring out the best formula. The best attire, the best time, the best route and the best stuffs to bring or the less of it, and the best groove to enable me to do it in consistency. Two things are currently helping me to really try to do it- the Nomads Challenge (see blog on this) as I need all the mileage I can get, and the other one- surprisingly, I saw one of my staff going to the office in a bicycle as if telling me- stop yapping and JUST DO IT!
Everywhere you look, motorcycles are fast becoming the staple transpotation in the streets. We are fast becoming sort of a Vietnam. I dont want to say its good or bad but what’s alarming are those who are only going for short errands, less than a kilometer away from their homes; are still riding their motorcycles. Its not only bad for the environment but on some point economy (oil dependency) and most importantly their own health as people nowadays are having sedentary lifestyles. I hope people can learn to use bicycles on short errands or if the work is only within the community. After our climb in Pulag this April, and while having our lunch at Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio- I saw this beautiful woman, in work attire who arrived in the restaurant with her foldable bike. Sush scene gives me little hope that it may eventualy sink in. Hope it wil not be too late. Note that as I have expressed in my above rant- riding a bicycle will also not solve the environmental problems we have today. Its true. But as per my exprience people who ride their bike for environmental reasons arrrived at that decision due to their sincere concern for the environment and most of the time, this mentality is the tip of an ice berg. Such people have already cultivated real concern that they try to practice it in all other areas as much as possible.