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Discussion: GHG emissions from orienteering

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 9, 2020 5:28 AM # 
For future generations to have any hope of a livable planet, the IPCC suggests the world needs to at least half greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. All individuals, organisations and governments need to do their bit. What is the IOF doing, and what can national bodies do to contribute? Travel is almost certainly the biggest contributor from orienteering, so here are some suggestions:

- national carnivals held every 2 years rather than annually
- international event frequency halved
- administrators to meet virtually rather than in person wherever possible, or meet at events
- develop a ride-sharing app that people can use to get to events
- hold a larger proportion of events near cities or transport hubs

And I'm sure others have better suggestions... Doing nothing shouldn't be an option, especially for a sport that depends so heavily on the natural environment.
Jan 9, 2020 8:07 AM # 
- Carbon offset all emissions, at an individual level for travel and for clubs/organisations holding events
- Volunteer club tree planting day

Realistically it's hard to see how orienteering and many other sports can continue in the way they are (chasing growth, destination races ppl fly across the globe to, lots of elite competitions around the world etc) given current projections.
Jan 9, 2020 10:49 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
There is a club in Stockholm, called Centrum OL or similar, which has the rule that all their events and trainings should be easily accessible using public transport. Here in Oslo there is one very frequent participants (Are Eriksen) who do the same, i.e. he does not drive at all. I must admit that I was happy to just get an EV and then feel good about myself. :-)
Jan 9, 2020 12:24 PM # 
@NickS I’ve been considering growth of the sport important in order to create more local opportunities. The jet-setting tendencies of those of us in US orienteering (especially) will be hard to disrupt without healthy, local communities that provide a hefty calendar of events and competition.
Jan 9, 2020 12:29 PM # 
Its very small but I've been putting public transport options on the event calendar for close-to-home events. There is no indication of any changed behaviour but I do know of participants arriving by PT.
Jan 9, 2020 1:47 PM # 
Certainly it didn't take the IPCC report to make many of us aware of this developing problem. For instance, I recently celebrated my 40th year living quite comfortably here in Chicago without a car. Back in the 1970's the problem was evident, and I purposely moved to the inner city where transit was abundant, in order to give up my car.

And other noteworthy orienteers have been even more concerned...even so far as writing a book on the subject in 2008 and discontinuing national competition:
Jan 9, 2020 1:59 PM # 
It wouldn't be possible to use public transport to get to any bush events where I live. It also wouldn't be possible to put bush events within reach of our public transport system.

Not orienteering related but we could get downhill MTBers to ride up the damned hills rather than getting shuttles all the time (just mentioned that because my FB feed had riders looking for someone to shuttle them at Stromlo this weekend)!
Jan 9, 2020 10:33 PM # 
How much GHG has AP saved over the years with the dark background and light text? I use that same setting on my e-reading apps.
Jan 10, 2020 12:54 AM # 
Ack your point tRicky. But in my club we've seen a shift over 20 years. We used to run mostly the equivalent of your bush events, up to 2hrs from home. The heavy load on planners controllers and organisers at such distances caused a difficulty in finding volunteers and the club considered winding up. It carried on due to (a) 3 school kids undertaking to come onto the committee and (b) renouncing traditional event expectations in favour of low-key close to home things. We started non-beginner events in city parks on the Park World Tour model (and look where sprint has taken us!) We discovered that in- and near-city afterwork 3hr rogaine "practice" with question-and-answer controls would become a popular activity in its own right (we are blessed with interesting topography). We developed MTBO (less successful, that interesting topography provides nice riding but not much navigational choice). Traditional orienteering now provides about a quarter of our participations ( Even that is much closer than it was - the further areas are beautiful but the volunteer budget doesn't allow them. Participation in further-out events is falling too.

We changed though not for climate reasons.
Jan 10, 2020 1:10 AM # 
I know ACT runs a very successful midweek series in city parks but we just don't have those areas, other than Garvey Park (which I mapped five years ago and we seem to use on a yearly basis). Other areas like Bold Park and Kings Park are off limits to us thanks to overbearing councils demanding ridiculous fees and other restrictions that make it unfeasible to actually run events there (apparently we're not allowed to attach controls to anything or actually, you know, run on the trails that are there for running on).
Jan 10, 2020 7:08 AM # 
And, come council election time, the candidates will all say how passionate they are about community, and how they've achieved such a vibrant city.

PS The new mayor of Wellington (the NZ one) is a trail runner and rogainer. You could always make your shift a little further...
Jan 10, 2020 7:57 AM # 
I don't think the ATO operates in NZ, hence the A.

Is there another Wellington :P
Jan 10, 2020 8:24 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
Can you use Maprun in Kings park?
Jan 10, 2020 9:19 AM # 
Probably if it was setup but we'd have to do it on the quiet. There's still the matter of the $250 fee (which may have increased, that was three years ago) and the no sand tracks restriction.
Jan 12, 2020 6:24 AM # 
Yes, behaviours should have changed decades ago, but they didn't. Will we ever change before our forests and hopes are dead? The IOF should be leading the charge to pressure the IOC and all sporting bodies to consider their footprint and make changes to their operations.
I think I know the answer to the question above, but can't we at least give it a shot?? Individual actions are important, but not as significant as good leadership.
Jan 15, 2020 7:15 AM # 
I think it would be a good step for the IOF to start taking into account the carbon emissions associated with their major events and participant travel. I’m sure that would highlight a pretty strong case for having events like WOC every 2 years. It would also lift the prestige of WOC and allow for better local and regional calendars on the ‘off’ years, as well as reducing the travel footprint.
A few years ago I decided not to fly unless absolutely necessary because I was sick of battling my conscience, but we need structural changes that help people reduce the need for regular overseas travel without consciously needing to make decisions like that.
Jan 15, 2020 8:18 AM # 
I'm reducing my need for air travel by moving to Melbourne. It's further to Europe though.

WOC is every two years now... sort of...
Jan 15, 2020 11:03 AM # 
There was a presentation at the joint Council/Commissions meeting last weekend (I didn't hear the presentation but saw the slides). One of the ideas which is floating around - not sure how seriously it's being pursued - is to create a fund for investing directly in planting forests, which has the dual benefit of offsetting CO2 emissions and potentially creating new terrains.
Jan 15, 2020 11:12 AM # 
Until those forests go up in smoke :(

Is a figure readily available anywhere which compares both CO2 emissions and energy usage, per unit of distance travelled by various means? I'm curious to know (for example) how many cars driving Sydney-Melbourne return would equate to one person's seat on a plane there & back.
Jan 15, 2020 11:53 AM # 
Here's a pretty simplistic chart. Note that two levels are given for cars: fully loaded with 4 passengers, and the national average of 1.5 passengers.

For a common run between Melbourne and Sydney, the train would be the obvious best choice from an environmental standpoint. But when I lived in Australia years ago, I cannot remember anyone taking the train. Are there long-distance and commuter trains in common use in Australia's major cities?
Jan 15, 2020 11:59 AM # 
My rule of thumb is that greenhouse gas emissions are roughly the same per mile for one person's plane or car travel. This is close enough to accurate to make you realize that one intercontinental flight more than cancels out almost every other action you might take to reduce GHG emissions in the rest of your life.

Also, airlines' carbon offsets are ludicrously underpriced given CO2 emissions and damage estimates, particularly if you are concerned about more catastrophic damage scenarios. Something like US$ 50 to 100 per hour of flight is more like a lower bound on what the amount of damage you are causing by flying - or driving the equivalent distance - represents.
Jan 15, 2020 12:14 PM # 
@chitownclark Trains aren't really used for more than 2-3 hour journeys here. Even Sydney to Canberra (3.5 hrs ish by road, just over 4 by rail) is more often done by bus. Sydney to Melbourne is almost 11hrs by train, 12 by bus or ~3 by plane when including check in, security and baggage collection.
Jan 15, 2020 1:29 PM # 
This study from 2017 compared different actions to reduce GHG emissions. #1 on the list (by a landslide) doesn’t involve transportation choices but it could reduce the number of junior orienteers. Owning a car and flying overseas were 2nd and 3rd on the list.
Jan 15, 2020 1:50 PM # 
What is one less than zero?
Jan 15, 2020 1:54 PM # 
The average number of children per person in Canada is 0.8.
Jan 15, 2020 1:56 PM # 
Looks like Australia is a little higher so you get more credit for GHG reduction.
Jan 15, 2020 2:50 PM # 
That's kind of a similar yet opposite logic to the insurance companies that claim "We're the fastest growing insurer". If you start with one customer and then increase to three, you've grown 200% but if your opposition goes from 10,000 to 20,000 sure that's growth of only 100% but I know which one I'd rather be.

One way we here in Australia can (probably) drastically reduce emissions is to admit that we live in a hot country, deal with it and turn the bloody air conditioners off. Walking home from the train station tonight I crossed the river and could hear the roar of someone's air-con from 100m away and that'll be going all night - come on, it's 10:30pm, your house isn't going to suddenly heat up if you turn it off. I was at my sister's for dinner last week on a day when the temperature barely made it to 25C and they had theirs on too, totally unnecessary.
Jan 15, 2020 2:53 PM # 
I have no children, so I guess I can go on a bunch of long plane trips.

(Although... maybe having no children also means that I don't care what condition I leave the environment in, because I have no descendants to inherit this place?)
Jan 15, 2020 3:19 PM # 
J-J: You, me.....and Bill Mahar
Jan 15, 2020 11:55 PM # 
Sydney to Melbourne is almost 11hrs by train, 12 by bus or ~3 by plane when including check in, security and baggage collection.

Does the 11 & 12hrs for the former two include baggage and tickets for those modes of transport (my experience of trains in Europe is you get there early, try and find someone to deal with your bikes then get refused access because they can't fit them on even though you asked at time of purchase and they were fine with it)? I reckon a fair number of plane passengers are doing a day trip and probably check in online and walk straight onto the plane without all the baggage dramas. I've done that a couple of times out of Perth.

Speaking of travel, just reading this week's featured parkrunner profile and noticed the person in question had traveled 77,000km in five years of parkrun so our sport isn't isolated in this! Seems to be an achievement to be congratulated.

Our state cricket team has/will have traveled from Perth to Hobart to Perth to Melbourne over the course of a week for matches. Could easily have cut down on the travel there by swapping the latter two matches but what would I know about maximising revenue?
Jan 16, 2020 2:10 AM # 
My rule of thumb is that if I get on a plane and fly somewhere, or if I don't, it isn't going to increase or decrease the number of planes that fly that day or the number of miles they fly.
Jan 16, 2020 2:18 AM # 
If you take one grain of sand from a heap, it's still a heap. But eventually, if you keep doing it, it's not a heap any more.
Jan 16, 2020 2:52 AM # 
I considered that argument. But I also considered that if every orienteer in the USA stopped flying completely it still likely wouldn't change # of flights or flight-miles per day or per year.
Jan 16, 2020 3:07 AM # 
So there's no point doing anything if no-one else does anything.

Not criticising because despite all my posting in this thread, I probably won't stop traveling either although I do (or rather don't do) plenty of other things that reduce my impact.

Big business isn't going to change the way things are done (e.g. travel by plane, oil drilling, etc) while there's still money to be made from it.
Jan 16, 2020 3:34 AM # 
@Ricky: and there you have the fundamental philosophies underpinning Australia's current government.

Flight-shaming seems to work for the Swedes though:
Jan 16, 2020 5:22 AM # 
I like how when I read that article, there was an ad at the bottom advertising cheap flights with Emirates!
Jan 16, 2020 7:24 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
Pay tRicky, and you get no adds :)
Jan 16, 2020 1:53 PM # 
I agree w/ Lufthansa's CEO and the data that backs him up. 97% of emissions are from energy industry, vast majority of emissions are from 20 companies (none of which are airlines/aviation), aviation efficiency is trending better and better while energy efficiencies are actually getting worse, and the good aviation brings to humanity (including orienteering!) far outweighs the bad:

Keep flying my friends, and let's get cleaner energy while we're at it.
Jan 16, 2020 2:42 PM # 
Okay firstly, pay for it with what income and if I did, how else would I get cheap Emirates flights? Also pay for a website I only visited because Jenny stuck a link on the forum ;-)
Jan 16, 2020 2:47 PM # 
Anonymous trolling...
Jan 17, 2020 10:29 AM # 
I've been using the coach and train for Sydney-Melbourne work trips this year (@tRicky some of which was to deal with big business). I think that the coach is the better option emission-wise, probably due to the much higher passenger load (the "bus" numbers in the previously mentioned site may have lower load levels and be stop/start). Greyhound have some figures, their rubberiness may vary.

Train is way better for sleeping, coach has net connectivity (wifi or phone) pretty much for the whole trip.
Jan 17, 2020 10:48 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
Lufthansa's fuel efficiency is 3.65 litres per 100 k per person, better than most cars, but if you have 2 ppl in the car.....
Jan 17, 2020 12:00 PM # 
undy: you're dead to me :P
Jan 17, 2020 12:42 PM # 
As fires burn in Australia, it is becoming evident that the Aboriginals knew thousands of years ago, how to prevent such disasters: by fighting fire WITH fire. And coincidentally, improving the orienteering runability of the forest.

....when vast tracts of Australia are burning, Violet Lawson is never far from a match. In the woodlands surrounding her home, she lights hundreds of small fires a year. These traditional Aboriginal practices, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia confronts a fiery future.....
Jan 17, 2020 2:32 PM # 
A neat app to take a peek at all flights in the air at any given time. Tap on any plane and get flight information:
Jan 17, 2020 9:03 PM # 
There's been a lot of talk lately about Aboriginal burning (quite a bit of it coming from the sort of people who would never pay any attention to Aboriginal people in any other context), but it can't be assumed that the sort of burning that happened, and still happens, in the savanna forests of northern Australia (where you're essentially burning off annual grass growth at the end of the rainy season) would be effective or feasible in the south.
Jan 17, 2020 9:39 PM # 
I recall seeing a talk from a Australian bushfire expert that stated that fuel mgmt through prescribed burning in Australia would need to be at a minimum 10%

This discussion thread is closed.