Green-ish, but at what cost?

It would be better for the environment if more of us travelled by train. Does this mean that destroying pockets of ancient woodland for the sake of more trains is an environmental solution? HS2 offers us just that. Trains are better environmentally than cars, but trees are better environmentally than no trees and ancient woodland cannot be replaced.

I had similar arguments more than a decade ago with an MP who thought a Severn River barrage was a good idea. Save the planet with green energy! But at the price of destroying a unique habitat. She felt it was worth the trade-off. I didn’t.

Every time we get into one of these, what we’re really saying is that carrying on as normal is worth destroying something for. If we used less energy, we wouldn’t need to mess about with the Severn River. If we didn’t travel so much, there would be no justification for destroying woodland for the sake of trains. If we tell ourselves we’re making the more sustainable choice, it’s amazing what we can justify.

We need imagination. We need the willingness to make radical change. We need to recognise that we cannot keep consuming at our current rates. We have to use less. Sacrificing some aspect of the natural world so we can carry on as usual is not a sustainable choice.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

16 responses to “Green-ish, but at what cost?

  • smithandskarry1

    So so true. So many desperate people are really excited about the job opportunities this rail line could provide – not greedy / pleasure seeking people just folk trying to keep a roof over their heads – and that is how the trees are being sold the axe yet again. But if the money was invested to create more local jobs within communities who aren’t ‘the big cities’ the need to commute to find a job wouldn’t be an issue. Local investment in local small and new businesses and local initiatives is, I think, one of the most important radical changes we could push for this year – allow people to work where they live, spend where they live and save where they live from the disintegration we are seeing in our rural and smaller urban areas.

  • garycohenblog

    Trains are reportedly better for the environment than car travel but how affordable is train travel for many people?
    Train prices generally vary on when you travel and how far you are travelling. In my experience if I want to use a train at 8am it’s far more expensive than the 14.00hrs. Therefore they don’t meet my needs unless I pay loads of money. Another example is when I recently looked at train fare for 2 adults and a child to travel from where I live in Devon to Birmingham. It’s cheaper for my wife to drive us. In fact we could do the journey twice and it would still be cheaper than the train tickets. Another example of ‘green’ living being more expensive.
    Personally I am filled with very unpleasant emotions at the destruction of woodland. It makes it more disappointing to me knowing that many people will still use their cars anyway because of the costs and the convenience.

    • Nimue Brown

      with you on the issue of train costs – making trains affordable would be a much better eco-move. we’re a household of three, and don’t have a car, the train costs can be terrifying when we’re going to events to work.

      • garycohenblog

        I agree re affordable costs but private companies are about profit. I am aware of the narrative that competition can drive ticket cost down but personally I don’t see that down here in my part of the country. I also hear it’s expensive elsewhere too despite the narrative of choice of providers drives down the costs for the public.
        To be fair though I am not sure how this works on the railway once a company has been given the contract to provide the rail transport for X amount of years. If no one else provides a service on that journey then they can charge pretty much what they please I imagine.
        But yes cheaper fare would help!

      • Nimue Brown

        totally with you on all of that.

      • garycohenblog

        Thanks for the discussion. Appreciated.

  • Barney Rubble

    A lot of people here won’t use trains at night because the public safety officers are the only unsafe thing out at night for those not financial. Those who do have money never went out by train at night and still don’t.

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    Train travel in the UK is very expensive. Compare it with Germany where it does not cost anywhere like as much. But then Germany is greener than the UK

  • Kritika

    True that. Instead of looking for better solutions, we have looking at finding alternatives that have more or less similar impacts on the environment.

  • lornasmithers

    This is really not good. Cuts through loads of important woodlands and other habitats here locally including willow tit sites. It seems designed to get rich people about even quicker without a thought for the rest of us. I’d like to see some of our old railway lines and stations brought back. And trams.

  • julietwilson

    Excellent concise point! HS2 is yet another example of people overlooking nature in their attempts to find climate solutions while refusing to look at reducing consumerism. Apparently also, HS2 isn’t even going to produce genuinely greener transport options, it’s not going to encourage enough people to transfer from road to rail for example


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