But does it make any difference?

Source: winnipegfreepress.com

For the past number of years whenever I can I have avoided driving automobiles or travelling in airplanes in favor of using public transport. The reason for this is for me simple: cars and jets emit significant amounts of CO2 and this is a small effort to cut down on these emissions that I myself would otherwise share in producing.

I fully realize that my contribution will make no significant difference in our human community’s effort to delay or even turn back the rise in global temperature above 2o Celsius, but my effort makes me feel good because I think smugly to myself that I am part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

There have been unexpected benefits for me in using city buses to move around Winnipeg and get to the university. One is solidarity with the less fortunate.  I am choosing to travel with people who often do not have access to a car or cannot afford gas and other costs associated with operating one. So I meet in my bus travels many women and girls, members of our First Nations, the old and the frail.

I have my favorite part of a bus where I prefer to sit if possible, and there I get some reading done of all the many books and journals that lie waiting for my attention in my office or bedroom. Then I unexpectedly meet old friends and acquaintances who are also travelling by bus and I can catch up on what they have been doing and share my story with them.

There are also downsides to using public transport. It is slower, especially when I miss a bus and have to wait impatiently in the cold for the next one. As a priest I can find myself squirming and anxious as the time approaches for the beginning of a Sunday Mass at which I am supposed to preside and my bus continues to stop to pick up ever more passengers.

Will I make it on time? Sometimes I don’t. When my bus is crowded I have to stand and try my best not to fall over when my bus makes a sudden stop.

I wonder if Pope Francis faced these issues such as turning up late for appointments when he was a dedicated bus user in Argentina.

But the question of the sceptic remains: does it make any difference? If all of us were making this change and ending our love affair with the car, it would no doubt help with climate change. But this will not happen any time soon.

So, like Don Quixote, I am tilting at a windmill if I think that my choice matters in the big picture. But somehow I like doing it my way and for the moment will continue to use Greyhound Express and Winnipeg Transit for getting around.

John Perry, Sj, is doing pastoral ministry at St. Ignatius Parish, Winnipeg and is researching and writing at St. Paul's College..

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 08:37h, 01 September Reply

    Thank you John!

  • Roger Yaworski, SJ
    Posted at 08:51h, 01 September Reply

    As usual witty and skeptical. Thanks for writing.

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