My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Monday, August 28, 2006

More about Carbon Calculations and Computers

Thanks for all your comments and tips. It is good to hear other people’s experiences and to know that I am not the only one who has tried this trip. I wish I could leave already as I am a bit worried that I have not got enough time to get to Singapore for the boat, but there are so many variables there is no point worrying and just hope that it was fated to work out!
Calculating the impact on climate change by various transport modes is a complicated business so there isn't one right answer. There are many variables including:

- Fuel used (eg diesel, petrol, electricity generated by various methods)
- Occupancy of vehicle
- Size and weight of vehicle and size of engine
- Quality and maintenance of engine
- Altitude (The IPCC (INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE) based in Switzerland concludes that emissions from aircraft at altitude result in the total warming effect that is in the range 2-5 times greater than that of CO2 alone. We used a conservative multiple of 2.7 for me)
- Speed of vehicle and route taken
- Road/Track/Weather conditions
- Idling times

So I have decided that it will be a good thing for me to get as much of this information as possible so we can make more accurate assessments when I return (or even whilst I am away what with modern technology). On that note I would just like to say, I hate using computers and the internet as well for the electricity they use and the chemicals used in the processing and leached in the dismantling. When I am at CAT (work) I use the computers there which are all run on renewable resources (sun, wind, water) if I am not at work I use the computer in the community telecentre or library. These are fast computers which mean you can do loads more in the time you use and it means less computers are purchased by individuals in the area. I have no idea where there energy comes from but it is a great community resource. On the journey I will try to use computers as little as possible but I will try and update this blog as much as I can. Oh it is all a balance. Oh yes and just to confirm, I do not have a laptop in my caravan or anywhere else! Nor do I want one.

However the figures are calculated, we know that to live sustainably (i.e for us all to have a hope in hell of there being a planet for our grand-kids to live on!) we have an allowance of 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide to emit as we chose each year (see CAT’s Carbon Gym). It is quite hard to hit this target if you fly.

For information on where you can recycle computers once they are knackered look at this good webpage (UK only);

For info. on rail travel in Europe see;

For info. on coach travel in Europe see;

For more informed information about the debate see what George Monbiot wrote earlier this year;

I really need to get some photos to make this all look a bit more interesting, sorry about that, I’m working on it………(This photos (thanks to Tab) reminds me of a lovely day in the snow at home earlier this year)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Choices, Cost and Carbon offset

Another day of sorting out visas and tickets, hopefully by the end of tomorrow I will have everything sorted to get me to Beijing at least! Thanks so much for all the comments, I will try to address some of the issues here, sorry I can’t respond to every question. This is all such a surprise to me, I didn’t think anyone would be so interested in what I am doing, but I am glad I have sparked a debate. I think it is important to think about this in terms of both the impact of air flight on our environment and a much wider debate about the future for our environment.
I was reflecting today on how easy it is in Machynlleth to make the right choices, it is easy to recycle and compost my waste and I can easily save water and energy too. There are shops and a market where I can buy local food and I can cycle everywhere, even though it is often steep up a mountain (I have lost weight and am fitter too). I wonder how easy it will be when I am away? People have questioned how ‘green’ I will be along the way and mentioned taxis and food as two examples. I don’t take taxis now and do not intend to start. Most bus and train stations are more likely to be in the centre of a city than an airport. Unless there is a desperate need for a taxi (or it is horse drawn) like I am about to miss the boat to Australia, then it is walking for me. In terms of food, I need to eat on the way and would eat if I was at home anyway. Like now, I will always search out local and fresh (organic?) food, which may be easier in certain areas of Southeast Asia anyway, any ideas anyone? I read about a load of cafes in Vietnam where they train street kids in catering and get them work in cafes so I will try to find one of them too. It is all about choices, and I will try to make the best one.
In terms of cost, my trip is more expensive but it is not out of reach for anyone, you just need to save longer. All the visas are expensive to sort out but otherwise it is ok. The bus to Moscow is £132, The Trans-Siberian £190. I have seen various prices for the train from Beijing to Hanoi between £80 and £160. Trains, buses and boats in the rest of Southeast Asia seem very cheap. The boat to Australia is £1000, this is the most expensive bit and although it will be a great experience to be on the cargo ship I will prefer to sail out of Oz as it will be cheaper and greener.
Carbon Offsets
What about carbon offsets? This is a difficult one to answer and my feelings are mixed. We really need to reduce carbon emissions in the first place, and all those trees just hold onto the carbon ‘til it is released anyway when the tree dies. I think offsetting by direct energy saving activities is better such as buying low energy light-bulbs (they save you money!) or improving insulation in your home.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Air vs. Overland in CO2 Emissions

All this interest and debate around the issues of climate change and the damaging effects of air travel is really important. Some of you have questions about the facts that I am basing my inspiration on so here are the comparative emissions of air vs. overland based on my journey.

If you have any other queries please check out or other links.

Machynlleth - London:
230 miles, by coach = 20,700 grams CO2

London - Moscow:
1924 miles, by coach = 173,160 grams CO2

Moscow - Beijing:
5772.8 kilometers, by train = 418,528 grams CO2

Beijing - Hanoi:
1710 miles, by train = 198,360 frams CO2

Hanoi - Nougkhai:
400 miles, by bus = 36,000 grams CO2

Nougkhai - Singapore:
1639 miles, by train = 190,124 grams CO2

Singapore - Darwin:
2350 miles, by ship: 285,760 grams CO2

Darwin - Brisbane:
2143 miles, by coach: 192,870 grams CO2

Total: 1,646,232g CO2 = 1.65 tonnes of CO2

This is based on average carbon dioxide emissions for various types of transport:
Grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometre:

Rail = 72.5g
Bus/coach = 56.25g
Ferry = 76g

The emissions from a one way flight would be at least 3.7 tonnes of CO2 (see or a more detailed calculation (taking into account the type of aircraft) can be made by and calculates and one way flight would emit 6.1 tonnes of CO2.

The contribution made by transport, especially air travel, to greenhouse gas emissions is growing more evident daily. Air transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases (currently producing 3.5 percent of all greenhouse gases from human sources) and is set to more than double in the next 15 years. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research ( has suggested that it will be impossible for the UK to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets if air travel continues to grow.

The alternatives are to take more holidays closer to home, or take the train or coach. A lot of people wouldn't have the time to do what I’m is doing but its quite easy, for example, to get down to Spain on the train in just over a day.

Reply to all my wellwishers (or not!)

Wow, Thanks everyone for all your comments, even the bad ones, even though I think it is pretty unkind to make pathetic and rude comments about my life, and whether I shave my legs or not. It is these kind of attitudes which just reflect how our world is going to pot. To those of you who think I haven't researched this then you are wrong, I have spent a lot of my own time and a lot of generous time from my friends to help me do this. I am not relying on any money from anyone to help me, I have earnt it all myself the good old fashioned way and worked. I have worked at the Centre for Alternative Technology for the last year and a half and there they have been working for a long time with other partners to calculate the carbon emissions and environmental damage of all different types of transport. The calculations we have made based on this rigourous scientific study show that my one way trip will create 1.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide as compared to 5.2 tonnes on a flight. This is still a lot I know and yes the best thing would be to stay at home, but this is a really special occasion, one of my best friend's wedding, and I haven't taken this decision lightly. I will still do what I can to offset these emissions and on the return hope to get more sailing in, which is very clean. I am not trying to preach to you about how you should live your lives so don't preach to me, this is what I believe in and I am going to follow it, so if you can't help or wish me luck then find somewhere else to look. Thanks Babs

Friday, August 18, 2006

Passports, Carboots, Dresses and an End to the Drought?

What an emotional rollercoaster I am on! A wonderful farewell up at my lovely caravan on Saturday night around the fire. So many lovely people and such a special spot - oh how I will miss it, midges, mud and all. Thanks to Jessa who managed to arise from no sleep and hitched to the car boot slae with me to sell loads of stuff to fund the trip. Imogen came up trumps and finished the dress - it is great and I am really looking forward to wearing it. The downer at the moment is the lost passport....try Jessa's 'draw the passport arriving and it will' strategy - nothing yet but we will wait. I keep thinkiong that it will bring the whole trip down and then realise that it is just the start of many obstacles over the next 6 weeks and DO NOT GIVE UP! I was wondering today if I have any problems along the way whether it is morally ok to start crying and whether it would at all help? I may have no control over it....I know there will be lots of tears and laughter. I finally left my Welsh home in torrential rain which was mean after all the sun - trying to hitch in sheeting rain is not very successful - but maybe Machynlleth was crying ( I certainly was!). Onwards to say farewell to Devonshire.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Planning and Inspiration

Have just got back from the Big Green Gathering where I had a great time building a Spiral of Junk the Wierd Wild Web (see photo) with a great gang of people and where I was re-inspired that I had to do this journey even though it is really hard trying to organise it. I feel like I have devoted myself to doing what I can to reduce my impact on the environment and to nourish it aswell. If I flew to Australia I would negate everything I have done for the last 6 years and that would seem sad. I have just got my Russian Visa which is exciting and I will apply for my Belarus one tomorrow. Just heard news that the cargo boat from Singapore to Oz will now be over £1K so I may have to rethink that and have looked through all the crewing websites again...Jessa and Arthur at CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) have kindly done a press release to promote my trip and took some lovely photos of me today. We still have no water at home, so no chance for washing hair since the festival-not a good look but I better get used to it for the trip...