Written by Jade Ruston
Our modern day heroes look a little different to those that we remortgage our house for to go and see at the cinema. Still selfless, still trying their hardest to protect the good that’s around them, only modern heroes need to sort out modern problems. Sophie Gordon, a 26 year old from the UK is a soldier on the ground, putting her body on the front row for climate change.
In 9 days, Sophie and a passionate team of cyclists brought together by social media, rode from Brighton to Glasgow (roughly 462 miles) to for the COP26 climate summit, where world leaders got together and mumbled for two weeks over their lax plans for change. The ride achieved much more than just making a point or something to do. The team educated communities along the way through different mediums, with a deeper telling of what’s going on in our blanketed society, and left an open invitation online for anybody who wanted to join, for however long they wanted to ride for, momentum and morale was at a constant high.
“We cycled for about 60 miles a day. We did think about making it a bit easier by doing 40 mile days, so then if people wanted to join for a few days but no do loads of cycling then they can, but those of us who were really keen to do the whole thing only had a certain amount of leave off work, it would have taken us two weeks to do almost at that pace, so we decided to stick to the original plan”
“We linked our route to other people and said, if you want to use our route feel free and if you want to join us at any point then anyone is welcome”
One method of communication they used to engage the public in their quest was via a friendly pub pop climate quiz, which they would host in pubs they were passing through. The quiz included facts about both what problems we are facing in different areas of the globe and how that impacts you, as well as some solutions that can be taken up in the everyday household and little to no cost.
“It was really crazy we would finish our long day of riding, get back, have a shower, a quick cup of tea, then head right back out again
Sophie continues “We also had a physio journalist come with us, so he was filming every day. He would film a bit of us riding, then he would dip into the community groups and projects and interview them. For instance, he found a low carbon housing project in Nottingham and and energy co-op that can make heat pumps to buildings, a zero carbon centre in Harrogate so learning about all of those was really interesting”
“We can’t sit around and wait for world leaders to make their political compromises and make decisions, we have to be active and get on doing stuff like this, and produce the solutions ourselves.”
When The Jolly Times asked Sophie what drove her to take on such a challenge, she responded with the humbling sentiment, that she wanted to represent everybody and be the voice of those who couldn’t attend the summit because of Covid restrictions or other.
Upon arrival to central glasgow, the group didn’t hesitate to get stuck in with peaceful street protests, making it a part of history.
“It was really weird,” Said Sophie, “It felt like the only people in central Glasgow were protestors, and you had all of these police from all over the uk, at one point we were wondering if there was much impact coming from it because half of the banks and offices we were stood outside of were empty because everyone was working from home.
It felt good to be there, and it felt like we had to be there, but I think the ride there had more of an impact than the protest did”
In saying that, locals that were still commuting to and from work reported at the time that coming outside and seeing the mass congregation area made them feel emotional and satisfied that there is a rising demand for change from the public, proving that every single voice matters.
The Columbian School of Climate, Earth, and Society stated that the overall consensus from the summit is that countries signed onto a variety of pledges and agreements that, while promising much-needed progress, do not go far enough in cutting emissions and lack the details required to ensure the words are transformed into action.
The school highlights that the new deal falls short of the meeting’s objectives. As the New York Times points out, the agreement is still unclear on how much and how quickly each nation should cut its emissions. The pact does not provide a clear plan to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, or even 2 degrees, and critics say it does not do enough to help vulnerable countries.
“Fossil fuels were mentioned in the text for the first time in the history of COPs, which could be considered a small win,” said Mélody Braun, a senior staff associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, “but the language was watered down by India and the US and went from ‘phase out coal and phase out fossil fuel subsidies’ to ‘phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” However on the Jolly side of things, nations have been called to strengthen their pledges and reduce emissions by the end of 2022, which is three years sooner than the previous Paris agreement as well as solidifying the process in which countries submit their progress reports which carries hope of transparency and to “make it harder for countries to fudge their actions and numbers”
As we were interviewing Sophie on how she thinks we can educate ourselves differently to get excited about protecting our planet, we discussed how understanding that climate change is not a burden for us, more so a reality check on our lifestyle, the earlier we understand our connection with our planet, the younger we will be enforcing protective steps.
Sophie’s first exposure to to in depth conversations were inspired by her geography teacher in school. After most students dropped out of the class, it provided more opportunity for one on one conversations exploring all countries actions past and present resulting in her ‘coming out of my bubble” and transitions into a more actively aware member of society.
“It’s not a long time in the future, it’s now.” Explained Sophie. “The next 10 years of my life are going to be massively different because of this. Everything we’re seeing at the moment, floods, wildfires, they’re becoming more frequent so yeah, it’s really scary. It’s hard that most don’t want to do anything about it. It’s difficult because you start to think, if i’m not doing everything that I possibly can, how could i forgive myself for that, but then it can be taken too far, and you know it’s hard to do everything all of the time, there’s only so much you can give, but we owe it. It’s a constant conflict. You have to look after yourself, but I don’t want to be selfish.
It is hard to find a balance but I think that activism and doing things like this, are the only things that stop me from sitting in my room and crying in despair to be honest.
Everyday life can get in the way of making life adjustments, most of us have jobs and in retrospect small trivialities to be worrying over”
We agree with getting them endorphins in any way possible and getting out in the fresh air to benefit the life of everyone around you is a solid boost everyone should experience! Ms Gordon, who works and campaigns for a cycling charity in Gilford called cycling UK, is doing everything that she can to encourage sustainability. Transitioning from vegetarian to vegan with her younger brother and exploring a new world of delicious experimental food with anyone willing to try. Opp shop shopping, recycling clothes and getting rid of household chemicals after learning that just simple pantry items can most often do a better, much cheaper and kinder result.
Coming up for Sophie,
“Our next adventure is monitoring the air pollution in Gilford, it’s shown recently to be one of the most polluted places in the UK because we have the A3 road that goes between London and Portsmouth, so there’s a lot of congestion which isn’t good for the air. It’s one of these things that I think people don’t connect with easily because you don’t really notice it until a really horrible old car drives past and your swallow all the desily air.”
She is absolutely unstoppable and we are here for it!