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.

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?

How much pollution from car exhaust fumes?

A Greenpeace UK study reported that 75% of the nitrogen oxides, 29% of the carbon dioxide, and 97% of the carbon monoxide to which inhabitants of London are exposed come from car exhaust fumes. The same source report suggests the actual cost of air pollution in Bangkok is between USD 1.3 bn. and USD 3.1 bn., and in Manila is USD 1.8 bn.

Brain damage

The side effects of the exhausts from oil based industries and the millions of internal combustion engines driving all around the world include brain damage to children, acid rain damage to buildings, adverse health effects and a general lower quality of life for people exposed to airborne pollutants. std-_mg_4286-bcNor are pollutants the only danger to face non-car road users, and one of the major aims of the WNBR is to make people more aware of the perils of riding a bicycle on todays roads.

In the UK alone, between 100 and 200 cyclists have been killed on the roads in accidents every year since 1995, although according to official figures the numbers are decreasing, even while the numbers of cyclists using the roads are increasing.

Even if the numbers dying and injured are dropping, it is clear the cost of pollution escalates as more and more drivers take to the roads, since many families now have two, and sometimes more, cars for their household. Heather Brooke, in the UK, notes that while apparently overall “deaths on the roads declined by 18% … evidence from the UK Department of Health on the number of people admitted to hospital after road accidents did not show a decline.” Perhaps the authorities need to double-check their numbers.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The music I listen to dares me to live

In the modern world, it’s not necessary any more for people to close their windows on nudity, indeed being naked to attract attention to a cause would be a bit pointless if everyone did.

std-20120610-img_2976_zf-0005-14698-1-003-bcFortunately that’s not the case in these more modern times and in fact members of the public who see the WNBR, as it passes them in the high street, are almost unanimously very supportive.

Of course, there are always one or two diehard, puritanical souls who express dismay and disgust with down-turned mouths, sour fish-faces and distasteful thoughts in only their minds, but the vast majority of people applaud and clap, and wave enthusiastically.

As Troy Marusek, who bicycled 800 miles from Chicago to St. Louis to join two separate WNBRs from his home town of Lexington, KY, relates: “A lot of the music I listen to dares me to live, and not to waste my life.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Welcome to the dirty world of the Romance Scam!

Don’t be a victim in this dirty world: on the website of the US Army they were warning people about scammers, stealing pictures of other people and pretending to be that person and wanting money from their victims…

Romance Scam Diary ( 86 % likelihood, Accra, Ghana ) by Brigitte Schmid.

This is the true story, from her own diary. Read it, and then warn your friends!

Cover-front

People take photographs

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

First 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? std-101_5131a-bcReally, 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. A little unusual perhaps, but after all, when the boss suggests it, who are the workers to argue?

Regardless of the many possible answers to the question of what use a photo will be put to, or who will see you, it is important to keep in mind that the WNBR was created with the express intention of attracting media attention to the event explicitly through the use of nudity. Indeed, the images of naked protesters at the WNBR are a heart-warming testament to the conviction of masses of people to put their bodies ‘on the line’, and almost certainly ‘online’ also, for a common cause, to take a risk and be naked in public for a public cause, on behalf of our environment, for all of us. One’s very own five minutes of fame.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

My first naked hike

The hike started. We left the car park and after a couple of hundred metres we turned off down a path into the wood ahead. After the first corner, the organizer stopped the group and we had the opportunity to undress. Now this was exciting. All the hikers removed and stuffed their clothing into their rucksacks, followed promptly by putting sun-cream on. Some people even removed their shoes. So, now was about to begin my first naked hike.

Nearly overwhelming

The feeling, standing naked in the woods with 50 other naked people, was nearly overwhelming. I had been somewhat nervous about what would happen. But it began as every other hiking tour had: with the first step! mid-img_3788Then followed a second, and a third, and after a few hundred metres any nervousness vanished altogether and was replaced by an intense feeling of awareness of my surroundings. An absolutely amazing experience!

I opened up to the weather and began to soak in the surroundings with all my senses. It was a beautiful summers’ day. The sky could not have been more blue and the sun lifted any tiredness away. The air temperature was circa 25°C. The sun’s rays felt very pleasant on the exposed skin and a gentle breeze gave such a wonderful feeling. I looked at the trees around us, at the path which stretched ahead, and was impressed with both myself and the situation, that I was even able to walk along with such a large group of naked people. What a marvelous feeling!

With the first kilometres behind us I thought about what I had discovered. I love the bodily awareness of moving so freely amongst nature. Even the smallest of differences began to push in on my sense of reality. A small cloud pushed in front of the other clouds and created a magical shadow across my body. I did not freeze, but I could feel goosebumps appear over my skin. As the cloud moved away from blocking the direct sunshine, I felt even more comfortable than previously. The goosebumps disappeared as the sun’s warm rays once more caressed my naked body.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Nicole Wunram.

Arrested for indecent exposure!

Simon Oosterman has the dubious honour of being the first person to be arrested and charged by a police officer for the apparently heinous crime of being naked while painted blue when he was organizer of the 2005 WNBR in Auckland, New Zealand. He also appeared on the street outside the court fully naked while protesting his innocence, and he is credited with coining the phrase “Stop the indecent exposure to vehicle emissions!” .

Arrested for indecent exposure charges dropped

The charge of Indecent Exposure against Simon was later dropped. Michael Hammond was also charged with Indecent Exposure in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and, in dismissing the charge, the judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that cycling naked had become a “well-established tradition” in Portland and understood as a form of “symbolic protest against cars and possibly the nations dependence on fossil fuels.” std-wnbr1-bcDaniel Johnson, was charged with Indecent Exposure while organizer of the WNBR in Seattle, Washington state in 2010.

Several months after the event these charges were dropped when the office of the City Attorney changed hands: yet another clear case of prudish personal opinion backed up by an official power base.

Gilles was arrested for being naked at the WNBR in Paris, France in 2010; all charges were subsequently dropped. The same year we have photographs of Gilles being accompanied by friendly and smiling police officers in the 2010 London and Brighton UK WNBRs, just across the English Channel. Where is the consistency; where is the even-handed impartial rule of law; in this picture of our authoritarian or free world?

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.