Oil used to produce the food we eat

Oil is also used to produce the very food we eat, even if we don’t eat the oil directly. Think about what fuels the tractors to plough the ground and manage the ground during the year: manuring, seeding, weeding, harvesting. Then consider where we get the energy required to drive the process, to grind the corn, wheat, rape and other crops; the fuel to chop the trees to produce the packaging of the processed food.

std-_mg_4286-bcConsider how the raw foodstuffs, and then the finished products, are transported from factory to shop, and in turn to our homes, having been paid for with a plastic card, before being eaten with perhaps metal cutlery on ceramic tableware. The metal knife, fork and spoon, will have been produced at a factory by a machine which required oil to function, probably the ceramic plates too. The semi- and liquid effluent is almost certainly sluiced down oil-based piping to a further processing plant.

Finally the solid rubbish is thrown into probably oil-based plastic containers or waste bins and transported to the dump by oil-driven machines, to be crushed by giant earth moving vehicles, powered by…, yep, you guessed it, yet more oil.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Reduce levels of carbon emissions

There are calculations to show that we can reduce levels of carbon emissions in the future, and one can only hope methods will be found which will be capable of implementing some of these options. The costs of implementing the Kyoto Protocol realistically are estimated at approximately 0.1% of GDP for each participating country. These figures are huge, and there’s no doubt we’re talking about a massive economic resource dedicated to a very specific problem.

We need people to grow up and begin to use their brains; if the planet cannot sustain human life because its atmosphere is polluted beyond use, or our environment becomes too hot to inhabit, then making and selling vitamin pills and flu vaccines, or arming our neighbours to kill each other, become somewhat superfluous considerations. std-turin_world_naked_bike_pride_024-bcWe’re not talking about thousands or even millions of people here, we’re talking about many billions of people, all of us: the entire human race. The sense of commitment to serious issues affecting our lives today, and the lives of our children in the future, appears to be absent. We are more concerned with short-term revenue than with long-term survival. What does that tell us about ourselves? These facts are why so many people take to the road with their bicycles and cycle naked around the city, to bring this information to our attention.

Even though precise figures, long term plans and general policies can be debated – for there are surely arguments for and against the prioritization of one perceived danger over another, with both economical and practical considerations – there are still clearly large numbers of people suffering and dying every day from car-related, airborne particulates and oil-based pollutants, as well as from traffic accidents whether driving, walking or cycling. It is clear that with figures like these one has to wonder whether politicians, and authorities such as the police, are being disingenuous when they declare a need to crack down on, for instance, marijuana (with zero deaths per year, as confirmed by medical journals), while they ignore the dangerous pollutants all around us and the many thousands of deaths worldwide each and every single day. The mind really boggles at the apparently unequal importance of various issues when one just takes a minute to consider their relative value according to this simple ‘show me the numbers’ rule.

Marijuana deaths = 0 per year, oil based extraction and usage deaths = 170,000+ per year, alcohol related deaths = 250,000+ per year. With figures like these, one could be forgiven for wondering what the problem is with marijuana or nudity, when the numbers so clearly demonstrate otherwise, and it seems certain that outdated fundamentalist religious morals play a large role in that answer. Perhaps, as any serious financier might do, when faced with questions of what we permit the government to spend our tax money on, we just need to pull out a calculator ourselves.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Naked at the Gasthof

Occasionally we glimpsed the surrounding peaks getting smaller. After several hours of zig-zagging upwards through the trees, we emerged from the forest onto the ridge and a welcome pause. We were going slowly and stopped for lunch just below the top. We were going slowly and stopped for lunch just below the top, Doug, Mira, mid-p1050335Jacques and Sylvie, then joined us for lunch and then to walk back up to the top of the hill, many people passing us on the fairly busy ridge trail.

Several looked a little surprised to see our group walking naked along the same way as they were, but were all friendly enough, with several smiles and waves exchanged, as one would expect when out on a mountain hike. Continuing along the spine of the alp, we quickly dressed to enter the Hochzelleralm Mountain Gasthof, nestling nicely on the shoulder of the ridge with extensive views of the lower valleys all around. We were just sitting down when Jerome, (organiser of the Brussels WNBR), suggested I ask the staff if it were possible to sit on their terrace naked. Naturally I thought they’d say no, but was happy to ask.

Guests at the Gasthof

The young and friendly waiter looked suitably surprised, but said that it was late in the day, with not many guests, and if the few that were here didn’t mind he had no objection either. So I asked a couple on the nearest table, and they said they didn’t mind, I dutifully fed the response back to the waiter, and he said, “fine, enjoy your drinks on our terrace naked by all means, then”.

We needed no further encouragement and our flimsy wraps and shorts came off, much to the surprise of one other couple, who’d I’d neglected to ask. They however were quite ok with us being naked too, furthermore they were happy to be video interviewed by the naked Gilles as to how they felt about more than 20 plus naked guests sharing their alpine coffee break with them. They seemed pretty comfortable about it all, the lady even removing her jumper to show some solidarity, (or perhaps she was just getting a bit hot).

We chatted for some time, greeting new arrivals with cheerful smiles as usual, and slowly drank our thirst-quenching schorles at this extraordinary well situated alpine Gasthof. The views were stupendous.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Richard Foley

Naked or nude?

Is there a difference between being naked or nude, in private or in public? John Berger makes the case: “To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others… nudity is placed on display.”

This highlights the perspective that the protesters are naked for their own cause, using the historic value of nakedness as the expressing truth and innocence, while the media are seeing the riders as on display for the public’s benefit. Can one std-125611521.vziayiup-bcbe both, or is being naked or nude a binary state? Is it possible to be yourself, while others see you in their own way?

Can we ever be free of the ‘considered opinion’ of the judgments of another, unless, as John Stuart Mills said, we stand firm for our inalienable right to hold an alternative view from the ever popular “tyranny of the majority”, regardless of the potential personal cost to the individual and thus society itself.

Having the freedom to clothe your own body in the way you see fit, and not from the dictates of prudish, guilty and shameful thoughts, is a step towards personal freedom for everybody. We actually can use our own bodies and minds in the way we each choose, but we need to believe in this as individuals, and to know this as an inalienable civil right.

Naked or nude as a public nuisance?

This is what Vincent Bethell’s Freedom to be Yourself campaign , started in 1998 in London, was concerned with, and after spending five months in solitary confinement awaiting his court appearance for being a ‘public nuisance’, he insisted on attending court naked. This was a jury trial, and he was judged by a panel of his peers, who unanimously found him not guilty of the charge. While the presiding Judge George Bathurst-Norman warned him darkly: “I would not go away too much with that idea”, he also appended the crucial: “It is simply not a public nuisance in these circumstances.”

Notwithstanding the judge’s hesitating support for the defense, essentially this was a great victory for the cause for freedom of choice where individualism, and public nakedness, is concerned.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

In winter things get complicated

Then clothing. This will be necessary anyway at one time or another, especially at the outset, when the muscles are still stiff and cold. Once you get going, the muscles will soon warm up, then clothes become redundant and can be removed layer by layer. However, unlike shorts in summer which are quickly removed, in winter things get complicated.

I02 avril 2010, Vararey, Chartreuset’s an acrobatic feat to avoid soaking your clothes while undressing in the snow, not to mention dressing again in a hurry. So you need to choose your outfit carefully. In practice, what I find works best are over-trousers worn directly on the skin, which unzip completely at the sides so that you can keep your boots on, worn with polar-grade jackets and vests. In deep snow, gaiters will prevent snow getting into your boots. Heat loss is mainly from the extremities, so gloves and a hat are de rigueur.

Extra dry warm clothes will also be needed in case of sudden changes in temperature. Make sure you have really effective sunglasses, otherwise you will suffer sore eyes, or even snow-blindness. The rest of the gear is that of any winter mountain hike: water, food, warm gore-tex jacket, rescue equipment, including a snow shovel, phone, gps, maps, and camera.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Jacques-Marie Francillon

Too close to Nature

I learnt for the first time what it was not just to be amongst nature, but to be part of it. Boots had left me stumbling blindly across the ground, oblivious to what lay on it. mid-image45My clothes had insulated me, not just to the elements, but to the whole environment. Was I really not tough enough to handle a bit of wind, maybe an occasional spot of rain?

And while paths are often rough and gravel strewn did I really need boots for grass strewn slopes? While the climate of Scotland could be harsh, I realised there would always be days when nature welcomed me, when clothes, maybe even boots might not be needed.

Too close

However, you can sometimes get a little too close to nature. One particular example of this takes me back to a hot summer day on the north coast of Scotland. We had thought about finding ourselves a secluded beach to take advantage of the warm Gulf Stream waters, but instead we decided to climb a mountain, Ben Hope, one of the largest of the isolated peaks of the far north. Parked at the bottom of it, the weather seemed so good that for a moment I briefly considered leaving my waterproof jacket behind. But then I remembered this is Scotland, and we have a saying here – “if you don’t like the weather, just try waiting fifteen minutes.”

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Stuart Pitsligo

Magical zone

The most compelling reason that I have found though for hiking in the nude, is the ease of sliding into that magical zone of existence while naked. As my freehiking buddies and I have all experienced, especially while hiking solo, it is the process of just wandering, and slowly drifting into that zone of existence mid-bb-07where you are acutely sensitive to everything around you, yet deeply calm, and passively observing. On one hike on an early spring day, I nearly tripped over a bright orange newt (a small lizard-like amphibian) amongst the green undergrowth at my feet, if tripping over a newt is possible.

I just had to squat down and stare at it for awhile. That newt was my total existence for that moment. On another hike, I found myself sitting during a rest break, upon a small ledge halfway up a hillside on the Long Trail in Vermont, in the Northeast Kingdom. Overlooking a medium size pond a few hundred feet below me, the water below was framed by clouds and mist boiling and spilling over the mountain tops several hundred feet above me. Sitting in my nakedness, temps in the low 50s , overcast weather, I was acutely aware of my environment, the sound of the rain drifting down through the trees, the lush green smell, the color of the light filtering through the mists above, the texture of the surface of the pond. I was totally at peace with that moment.

Heightened state

Parts of the past few years have been rather wet for hiking here in the northeast US, a blessing in keeping some of the tourists at bay. A relative delight in discovering how comfortable one can be hiking naked during the summer, in the rain that would otherwise have one miserable, soggy and chilled. This has come at the expense of the trails getting very beat up because they have remained so muddy that they cannot support the foot traffic when the sun and crowds do return. There has also been a lot of damage caused by the hurricanes and major storms experienced in my area these past two years.

A side benefit that I have noticed through this adversity though, backpacking sections of both the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail is that because the going is rough and much slower than normal, I have been able to notice many things along the trail that I may have unconsciously walked by under more normal conditions. The slower pace and the heightened state of my senses brought on by my nakedness have allowed me a deeper appreciation of some very special parts of this planet we inhabit. And yes, I have been asked by fellow hikers that I meet in the overnight huts, how it can be that my clothes have spilled out of my pack dry and why my spirits have remained bouyant. And I have been pleased to have been able to share my personal take on simple nudity with an open minded audience.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Dan Kidwell.

Goldfinger

There’s an old myth about body painting being dangerous, as it supposedly doesn’t let your skin breathe, so-called epidermal suffocation. This was the gimmick used in the James Bond (Sean Connery) movie Goldfinger in 1964, when std-2012_0609wnbr20120057-bcthe girl Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), was covered in gold paint and apparently died a terrible death from suffocation.

This is an entertaining fantasy, but the skin on the human just does not breathe in the same way we might imagine by comparing this organ with our lungs, and if you can breathe through your mouth, covering your skin in a safe paint will make no difference to you.

Goldfinger myth

I suspect the origin of this myth goes back to the days of the Judy Garland movie, The Wizard of Oz in 1939, when the actor playing the Tin Man (Buddy Ebsen) role became seriously ill and was hospitalized because of inhaling dangerous metal flakes from the unsafe aluminium-based paint make-up, which was used at the time.

Today’s body paint is safe and fun to use, although it’s still worth pointing out that one should of course use body paint made for the purpose, and not just any old paint one happens to have to hand. Kids put paint on for fancy dress parties, and WNBR protest activists wear body paint to both attract attention to the cause and to have fun.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Stand and fight or run and hide?

No freedom has ever been freely given, freedoms have always been taken, and the only question is whether we stand and fight, or run and hide. The people who pioneer the new, (because not “normal”), views are inevitably regarded as extremists. Today, we bow to lesbian/gay rights, women voters, etc.Only because some people made a hard stand during difficult times.

Stand and fight?

When those people were fighting for OUR rights, most people called them extremists and nutcases.

Imid-20120717_103914f Emily Parkhurst had been “sensitive to the appropriateness of the situation”, I’m sure she would not have thrown herself under the King’s horse and women would probably still not have the vote. Nelson Mandela is another example of precisely the same case where one man suffers for years under the barbaric of the current regime, while today he is hailed as a hero. He was fortunate, he was able to enjoy his last years of life in freedom.

Alan Turing is another who was shamed, and forcefully chemically “treated”, by the government of his time, for the crime of following his own harmless activities. Turing was so persecuted that he committed suicide rather than face the rest of his life as a chemically castrated individual.

What fate awaits Stephen Gough?

What if someone at work finds out?

A new set of issues are of course raised by being naked in a public space and having people take photographs of you.

std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcFirst of all, it’s not always possible to know the precise reasons behind every camera, the intentions of the photographer; secondly, you have to ignore the possibility of someone finding the images exciting, because running your life on the basis of what other people think or find titillating is a very sad state of affairs to be in; and thirdly, horror of horrors, what if someone from work finds out?

Really, most of us don’t live in the repressive and hypocritical Victorian or Biblical eras any more, thank goodness, and people are generally much more mature in their knowledge of nudity these days. I recall a recent employer of mine discussing a project, where there was need of some confrontational joviality to lighten the mood, and knowing my penchant for naked activities, suggesting we do a naked Maori Haka for the other half of the team. Clearly the idea of being naked at work is not as outrageous as some would have us believe.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.