John Vidal’s environmentally friendly transport arrangements

I write this from St Martin’s, one of the largest of the Isles of Scilly, where in five days spent among its 120-odd inhabitants I have seen only three moving cars, two tractors and a few boats. With 28 miles of Atlantic ocean in one direction between it and Cornwall, and just a few rocks before the Canadian coastline in the other, St Martin’s has some of the cleanest air in the world.


As individuals, we can learn to avoid heavily polluted streets by taking backstreets; apps can show us in real time where the pollution hotspots are; and we can avoid buying diesels or sitting in front of open fires. These all offer individual respite from the clouds of gases and particles we emit, but will not bring about real change.

We must also understand that air pollution comes not just from cars but from ships, farming, heating of houses and workplaces, and the burning of firewood and rubbish. We can wean cars off fossil fuels, but that is just the start. Ultimately, we need to both get out of our cars, and burn fewer fossil fuels.

For that to happen, we need to think very differently about how we live. On St Martin’s in the Isles of Scilly, it’s just about possible to imagine that.

OK, that’s from 19 Sept 2018. This is from 15 Sept 2018.

About this content
John Vidal in Dar es Salaam

Sat 15 Sep 2018 15.00 BST Last modified on Sun 16 Sep 2018 08.55 BST

In Dar-es-Salaam, local fishermen are being squeezed out by illegal boats with explosives which take much of the catch, killing coral reef and putting an eco-system at risk

I think that’s most impressive and John Vidal is to be congratulated. Managing to cycle from Dar es Salaam to the Scilly Isles in only 4 days is damn good going.

Hmm, what’s that? Because reasons?

29 thoughts on “John Vidal’s environmentally friendly transport arrangements”

  1. When all is said and done, all forms of mechanical transport are powered by hot air. Clearly John produces his: a lot, it seems, from soy latte’s and couscous. The only downside is that we might have to kill him as well as all the livestock for producing excess methane 🙁

  2. Almost every single item in St Martin’s will have arrived by boat and/or air, mostly after far lengthier voyages from much more distant locations. If St Martin’s were to be self-sufficient, it could support a population of about 6.

  3. It’s a grand life, jetting all around the world demanding people return to an eighteenth century standard of living.

    But let’s not think that inventions such as central heating, motor vehicles, aeroplanes will be forgotten. They will persist, but enjoyed only by the elite, like John, while the majority of the population wallows in the poverty John considers to be their natural birthright.

  4. He needs a rallying call for his environmental cause delivered convincingly with a straight face showing no trace of the massive irony of the hypocritical patrician cvnt. Like oh, say, that rich Irish pop star’s shouty slogan

    “Give us your fvcking money”

  5. One of the most egregious idiocies is his idea that the 18thc lifestyle, with all the wood and coal fires, were somehow less polluting and cleaner than London today. His idea of a fireplace is a luxury item for people to toast their feet or enjoy. For much of the world, if you take away or prohibit open fires, you remove the ability to cook hot food. Similarly, for all his visits to Africa, did he never once see a diesel genny or 2, each considerably more polluting than a modern, optimised car or truck diesel engine? I suppose eco-tourism keeps you away from the way most people live

  6. for all his visits to Africa, did he never once see…

    I’m going to bet he’s never really seen anything in his fucking life.

    Just another pompous hypocrite spewing shit in the Graun.

  7. Julia, the smarter the hotel, the more sure they are to have container-sized generators tucked round the back to pick up the current when there’s a power cut. In Tanzania, guaranteed. Dar didn’t even have streetlights, last time i was there.

  8. I presume he refrains from using the air con in the hotels in these hot countries he frequents and, if things get oppressively hot, hires a punkah wallah?

  9. They’re coming for your private transport. Every politician in the Western World is in a pissing contest to see who can go the furthest the fastest. The really annoying thing is I think the populations are so supine they’re going to get away with it. It’s a socialist wet dream.

    Oh, and of course it will make us all richer it is claimed, with no evidence at all to support the fact.

  10. It’s a given that anyone who writes for the Guardian is a hypocrite or a liar – from the environmentalists to those who want open borders who never see this vibrancy except via their cleaners. If we were importing thousands of journalists that would do their jobs cheaper we’d never here another word about the benefits of immigration. The environmental campaigners seem to be the worse always jetting around the world lecturing others – what do they think jets use for fuel – fairy dust ?
    This however did make me laugh – it’s a top pick comment from the article “A lot can be done. Some of it on short notice, like walking and cycling.

    But a lot takes long-term planning and investment.

    Here in a remote nook on the Continent, I cycle, I use hydroelectric trains, light railways, tramways, trolleybuses. Combustion engine buses are increasingly hybrid.2

    I want to see this hydroelectric train – it must be a marvel . Where can i see one ?

  11. The things they hate, the things they see as so wrong, are the very things that make today the best time to have lived, ever. There was never a paradise in the past, there is no unspoiled world to return to. Basically this whole attitude is anthropophobic and prosophobic and ought to be called out as such whenever it appears.

  12. Amazing that can be 28 miles from Cornwall while referencing Canada. Nowhere else affects the place besides those 2? No other countries around?

  13. The things they hate, the things they see as so wrong, are the very things that make today the best time to have lived, ever.

    Yes, and if you are a misanthrope it must be horrifying. All of these working class people enjoying central heating, private transport…appalling.

  14. These people never studied physics, or maths. A few insights from physics and a back of envelope calculation will soon demonstrate how totally stupid are their ideas. Sadly this dismissal of science & maths is cultural. Decades ago when I actually read such stuff there was a feature in the ‘Sunday Times Colour Supplement’ (press colour printing was a novelty then) about the ‘bright young things’ at Oxford then. The comment that struck me forcefully was their dismissal of the useful students (yes, there were some) as ‘Northern Chemists’. Definitely not part of the in-crowd!

    I don’t think things have really changed much.

  15. Robert, I had to go find it, not a word I’d heard of before but I knew there must be a posh word for luddite. If it happens to be a proper psychiatric disorder too, so much the merrier and more useful.

  16. Where I am is largely hydroelectric, the greens have been blocking building a new hydro dam for years as it will damage the environment, while campaigning for less fossil fuels etc. So not sure where they expect the power to come from.

    Met someone a while back that went back in his semi retirement to do his masters on environmental energy stuff, used to love upsetting the greens by pointing out the carbon footprint for locally grown tomato’s at a farmers market was much higher than the commercial grown bulk shipped ones in the supermarket and he had the numbers to prove it. He always said that bulk shipping etc made such a difference to per unit carbon that all the local environmental stuff was crazy and that was before factoring in greenhouses to grow crops that weren’t naturally occurring.

  17. TG
    “the ‘bright young things’ at Oxford (‘s)… dismissal of the useful students as ‘Northern Chemists’. Definitely not part of the in-crowd!”
    Who went on to be the journalists, senior civil servants & (God help us) cabinet ministers of today. As did their predecessors. Doing their bit to take the UK from being a world power to a second rate bunch of islands off the French coast.
    The place should be carpet bombed, the rubble bulldozed & the ground sowed with nuclear waste. Science can be done elsewhere. Science can be done in an industrial park on the ring-road. You don’t need medieval halls or medieval customs to do good science. The Institution should have a stake driven through its heart.
    And then Cambridge’s turn…

  18. @DJ – only if you consider Grantham to be in the north.

    @BiS – current head of my old college is a chemist. You can offer world-leading science teaching alongside PPE, and even (god help us) an MBA.

  19. Were we to bring back the pillory for such arrant stupidity the quality of our public discourse would improve precipitously.
    (Originally was going to be flogging, but cooler heads prevailed.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *