Powered by no more than a good snack, active travel generates almost zero of the primary global warming chemical C02, compared to the typical 150g per kilometre for a car. In Surrey nearly half of all emissions are transport related. Walking and cycling really can help here.

How are we doing on carbon dioxide emissions? Regrettably, no matter how triumphantly a politician may talk, all efforts to lower C02 levels globally have failed to slow the rise. That’s bad. This may sound churlish, but it is honest, this is a very hard problem to solve.

To get the detail I’d recommend the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, but they aren’t for everyone. How on earth (literally) do we tell whether solutions are working? 

I’d like to introduce the Keeling curve. You will have seen it in one form or another. The chart shown here, and 800,000 years of data, is available at https://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/ – this is your weapon to counteract any chippy-chirpy politician telling you how great it’s all going. 

Until the Keeling curve is pointing down, we cannot say we have 'solved' climate change
Until the Keeling curve is pointing down, we cannot say we have 'solved' climate change (UC San Diego)

The Keeling curve is named after the scientist who started recording C02 in Hawaii in the 1950s. A measurement taken away from industry, only disrupted by the swooshing of flower garlands and sunshine, this record is the accepted global background count for C02.

The zigzag is the annual cycle of the seasons as summer in the northern hemisphere triggers drawdown, followed by a release in the winter. If you go to the website there are animations with soothing background music. That’s lucky because if reality sinks in, it is pretty darn alarming. To date this curve has accelerated upwards. Can you see any hint of a change? I can’t. 

If we are going to solve climate change the Keeling curve needs to point sharply downward. Until that happens, we are not solving climate change. 

“We just planted a zillion trees!” You retort: “Lovely – is the Keeling curve pointing down? Ask your politician when they think the Keeling curve will be pointing down. 

In Haslemere please support Active Travel Friday to switch journeys from vehicles to walking and cycling. If it’s regular and noticeable, others will join. And don’t forget to pick great snacks for your zero-carbon active travel journeys!