Did you do something to save the world on your summer vacation?
Most of us probably did not. Summer vacation is more likely to bring to mind time at the beach, a cabin in the Northwoods, or getting through that book we’ve been trying to crack for months.
Yoram and Aaron Kannangara had a different plan: bike from Amsterdam to Rome, posting an Instagram blog along the way and raising awareness of climate change.
Two weeks of riding, flat tires, sore muscles, and a few bumps and bruises and they completed the sort of trip most people intend to make but likely never undertake. You can view all their posts (they are a fun read) and see a wealth of great pictures on the blog.
(And if you wonder why Exaudi would be interested in the summer activities of this particular duo, full disclosure demands we identify them as the sons of Caroline Weijers, the ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See.)
The ride of the Brothers Kannangara responds to Pope Francis’ consistent call for the care of creation. Of course, Francis was the first to write an encyclical on the environment. Reports persist — not confirmed by the Vatican– that he will make a short trip to Glasgow at cop26.
Following is Yoram’s explanation of what it was all about:
My name is Yoram Kannangara and I turned 30 during the trip. I’m a policy advisor at the Dutch Ministry for Justice and Security. My brother, Aäron Kannangara, is 26 years old and currently finishing his master’s degree as a computer scientist at Leiden University (ICT in Business and the Public Sector).
I (Yoram) left Amsterdam on August 14th. Seeing as my brother lives in the Hague, I cycled past there to pick him up and we cycled on to Antwerp on the first day. We finally arrived in Rome on August 31st.
The whole point of our blog (of our trip and on climate issues) was to inform, express our concerns and convey the impact our actions can have as individuals.
Each of the next three decades will likely be the hottest decades recorded in human history. Further evidence has been provided for this by the recent IPCC report. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the symptoms. However, people need to talk about it more. Not just about it being a big problem. About how their society, leaders, politics, business, and they themselves can contribute. Change is rarely popular. Particularly when change means a transformation of society. Certainly when change affects our standards of living. Our way of life. What all our norms and values are centered around. How we were raised. Yet, we need to change the way we move around, the way we eat, how we warm our homes (or cool them for that matter), etc. Let’s not forget the advantages of these changes.
Just to name a few: By shifting to a predominantly plant-based diet, we maintain a healthier lifestyle. By better insulating homes, we may significantly drive down our energy costs over the long term. By forsaking air travel for bicycles, my brother and I had more quality time and quite the adventure to boot. By reducing the amount of exhaust fumes, we provide cleaner air for future generations, reducing the likelihood of sickness in the next generation. One of a multitude of benefits.
Once again, these are some basic examples in a long list of things people can do (less) to take their own responsibility and raise awareness. Starting a debate to collectively work towards a common goal. If we merely point fingers at others to solve our problems in life, they’re highly unlikely to just disappear.
I guess that’s about it!
All photos by Brothers Kannangara