HEAT -How to Stop The Planet Burning,

by George Monbiot is the basis of the following comments:

We know that to stop World temperature rises of 2 or more degrees, which would be catastrophic, energy guzzling countries uncluding the UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc must reduce their carbon (equivalent) emissions by 90 % or more.

To achieve this very difficult target in the UK George has shown that:

1. buildings must be transformed to slash their consumption of energy,

2. the private motor car must be abandoned

3. very fast public transport (aeroplanes & TGV type trains) must be eliminated (Very fast trains slowed) and much more.

What does this mean for Chiang Mai?

Taking the last point first. Well if the UK does what it must to save the World all flights over the UK will cease as its airspace is closed. The rest of Europe will have to follow suit and a reluctant USA & Canada will be forced to end flights to Europe.

So there will be no tourists from abroad flying to Chiang Mai and none flying from Bangkok as Boeing & Airbus close their aircraft maintenance & parts facilities.

So to point 2. Just as the aeroplane becomes obsolete, the motor car comes close to the same fate. Yes there may be a few flights for medical emergencies and likewise cars for the same purpose but otherwise motorised road transport will be restricted to busses and much reduced goods transport. The end of the private motor car will see the end of an industry producing them. Further the pressure to reduce energy consumption Worldwide will see motorists moving not to motor bikes but straight to bicycles just as they were forced to in Cuba when Soviet oil went dry.

With the big energy consumers switching to bicycles it is inconceivable less “developed” countries will not follow suit.

So Chiang Mai will have neither planes nor cars nor motorbikes.

We can all work less as nobody will have to make repayments on loans for cars or motorbikes, which can amount to up to 25% of monthly income for some poor folk.

Our air pollution problem will decline as vehicle exhaust ceases to become significant and we have more time to compost leaves and patrol the forests to prevent arson.

Chiang Mai will be a cleaner city with, as Cuba found, healthier people from more exercise and pesticide free food.

And lastly to the 1st point listed above – Energy Efficient Buildings. This is a problem more difficult for the temperate regions than the tropics because firstly there is the need to keep buildings warm enough to inhabit in Winter while even cities like Paris and Moscow can suffer stifling heat in Summer. To deal with this air-conditioning is out because of its high energy use and if that is the case for Europe so is will be for China and Chiang Mai.

With cars off the roads and pavements being narrowed as tall growing trees transform Chiang Mai, we can turn to renovating our houses and other buildings by adding window shades and good ventilation just as was the case with many classic homes a century ago.

We all need to recognise the revelations above.

We all need so see that a speedy move to a low energy World will radically improve our lives.

And we need to bring our local government to the same recognition and to take the message to the people at large.

Now before we fall for the criticism that thousands of jobs will be lost from tourism let’s look at how thousands can be put to work planting and tending trees, making bicycles, remodeling buildings and farming in an organic or permaculture way and how adjustments can be made which make for a happier society without greed.

Ricky Ward (International Citizens of Chiang Mai)

2nd July 2010