United New Internationalists

108 Road

A road of Worlds, a World of roads.


There are times at the back of the car, when all we need is a TV. I remember feeling isolated in traffic and sensing madness of being stuck in the back of the car, as a boy. But it is a road of Worlds, and a World of roads, that gets us from A to B and B to A again, therefore a car is probably the second most important affection after a roof over our heads. The amount of CO² levels are more than they have been for the past 800,000 years according to Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. And according to ‘Sapiens’, by Yuval Noah Harari, it is only 70,000 years ago that we began the Cognitive Revolution. Man began to think. After this came Man and Technology, particularly thinking of W.W.I and the progression of tanks, railways, air warfare and air traffic control. The war began in 1914, and was won by the friendly allies by 1918, England included, with the help of the Americans, just like W.W. II. 29 years earlier from the war’s beginning, in 1885 the gasoline motor car was invented by Karl Friedrich Benz, of Mercedes fame, the Germans were ahead of the game, a possible reason for causing the war, not just blood. But in America, just after it’s invention, the Ford motor car was produced for the first time on a mass scale. This piece of writing is about Roads . . .

Ultimately we need to convert from gasoline to electricity and the hydro cell as oil resources deplete. Whether the World needed that oil or not. Once the electric car comes into play, and only once this happens, or by foot, or by bicycle, wouldn’t it be nice to go on a journey one wants to make, rather than one must. To explore a road for its prettiness or intrigue. To end at Birmingham’s spaghetti junction services or a beautiful seaside town through hedgerows. Any journey is possible, after all, Edinburgh Castle is only 6 hours 12 minutes from Windsor Castle, according to Google Maps. That is approximately 2 hours less than a days work and can easily be done in two 3 hour shifts with a half hour lunch stop, 09:00 – 15:42, via Manchester, a good place to stop for lunch. Shouldn’t we all go for the weekend? I think we should!


0.15% of the world is covered in roads, which equals 200bn m² according to ‘Quora’. This may not sound a great deal but let us put that into context. 55% of people live in urban areas or cities and 3% of the World is covered in urban areas or cities, alongside this, unfortunately 71% of the world is habitable. Therefore 5% of the 3% of the world, as urban areas are made up of roads, this does not account for the disgust the World makes of the car and its fumes. We are starting to get sick of pollutants as a species, so let’s all become farmers! There will be an upswing of megacities around the World over the coming decades with a rise in 68% of the population living in cities. This all sounds OK? . . .

Well not really! According to ‘Skepticalscience’. There is a global cycle of 750 giga tons of carbon globally every year. Of which only 29 GT is produced by man burning fossil fuels and from the land. 332 GT is emitted by the sea and 439 GT by the land naturally. Similarly 338 GT is absorbed by the sea and 450 GT by the land. So, 40% of the carbon made by man is put back into the carbon cycle this is not necessarily good for plant or animal life but it has to go somewhere right? Well, 60%, 17.4 GT is in the atmosphere causing all various respiratory problems and global warming. To put this into perspective. Carbon is the fifth most abundant gas in the atmosphere after argon, water vapour, oxygen and nitrogen in ascending order. But the 100ppm increase over the last 120 years was expected over the next 5,000 - 20,000 years. It is like a mature carbon fuelled baby losing its innocence. 10% of man made carbon comes from building, 15% from all vehicles, including cars, trucks, airplanes and ships, 20% from deforestation and an unbelievable 55% from burning fossil fuels (approximately), bear in mind carbon dioxide is not the only green house gas, but overall accounts for about 70% of the problem. Now the difficult maths is done it’s back to the roads favourite vehicle, the car.


The idea of the VW Beetle was conceived in 1931, when Ferdinand Porsche and Zundapp developed the Porsche 12, or “Auto fur Jedermann”, meaning – ‘Car for Everyone’. This all happened during Nazi Germany, with W.W.II emanating in 1939, lasting until 1945. In which time the bug went into mass production. Up to 21.5m bugs have been made, the most of any car, on the same platform, considering in 2018, just last year alone 70m cars were built Worldwide. This would become the ultimate car of the future.


Some roads seem impossibly traversable like the foothills of Bolivia, where until 1994 and roads were improved, a road, bearing in mind, that is just 3 meters wide, 300 drivers died each year, assumed passengers as well. It was of course coined ‘Death Road’, by locals, and whilst travellers take their chances, it would be wise to avoid. Not all roads are good, they in fact cost the tax payer, £5bn in 2018. Very few in fact are sublime, as we remember the Little Chef and since then it’s ergonomic re-vamp by Heston Blumenthal, with Earl Grey Smoked Salmon and Green Tea Smoothies of late, and of course the Travelodge in an arduous ride to wet North Wales, for a family holiday.


In Europe, they seem to love their roads a little more with artwork and slightly better scenery for the European landscape seems much more mountainous, and therefore vigorous, whilst our motorways remain languid. There is nothing like taking the Eurotunnel and entering a French Supermarket for the smell of fresh bread and cheese, a chocolate milkshake, and decent fruit juice! And of course, a proper bar of Milka. So it would seem, it is the destination that is the only thing that gets us there and while we enjoy the drive, it makes it more fun, with music and the right kind of company. What is it about journeys? That whilst we are dreaming of lots of things at the back of the car, particularly getting to point B and unfortunately underlining our poor public transport, alongside the organised chaos of railway schedules, is that plainly roads have become vestigial? A footprint of what should have been useful, where gasoline kills and now only mechanical structures can save us. Let’s hope we can invent something fast!