By Hanieh Khakpour
29th March 2022
“The war’s unique connection to climate change” was Gray’s main idea to create a graphic with eco-friendly advice to have an impact on Ukraine’s war. He explained the story of creating this graphic to Rising Clyde.
Everything has kicked off from Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Russian tanks and troops have rolled across the border, causing widespread destruction. The whole world fearfully watched on, as entire cities were destroyed, civilians were forced to flee and the entire country ground to a halt. So far, the response of the West has been the imposing of economic sanctions on Russia. In the hopes that these will force Russia to back down.
However, people all over the world felt they could not just sit back and watch this war unfold. In different ways, they began to show solidarity with the people in Ukraine. Through social media, thousands of people have come up with a wide range of ideas to take action against Russia and show their support for Ukraine.
Among the different ideas gathering traction online was the impact this conflict has on the climate emergency and how we can combat both issues through one action: “The war’s unique connection to climate change” was Harry Hamish Gray’s main idea to create a graphic with eco-friendly advice to have an impact on Russia’s war. A powerful idea, as it offers the opportunity to fight two global issues simultaneously. The climate emergency and the war in Ukraine. However, what would this action be? A violent protest? A mass music festival? A global revolution? No. The solution is far simpler than that and is probably lying in your garage right now, covered in cobwebs. It comes from riding a bike.
How can this be effective? With more bikes being used; the fewer cars are used, the less oil will be needed. Thus, less oil will be imported from Russia, which will lower the income of the Russian government.
An environment-friendly action, saying “FIGHT PUTIN, RIDE A BIKE”, went viral on social media.
This graphic created by Harry Hamish Gray encourages people to use bicycles instead of cars. Gray is a campaigner for active travel from Salford. Gray said: “I campaign for active travel. So, I wanted to show what our group could bring to helping with the Ukraine war.”
A wealth of people around the world are taking part in this campaign. Either by posting this graphic on their social media pages, by printing it on their bicycles or by creating stickers for their helmets or backpacks.
Gray said: “It has been used globally, from the USA, on rallies, to politicians in Europe. The spread has been helped by the simplicity of the message.” Support came from Swedish Green Party Leader Per Bolund who retweeted the graphics. Advocates of such an idea would like to show they stand with Ukraine; simply by biking, As, any effort to decrease the consumption of gas and oil that comes from Russia is important.
Gray said: “the point of this poster is to convey a simple message and enable more nuanced discussion.”
“Its simple message may be seen as a simplistic way of dealing with a complex.”
Harry also explained to Rising Clyde how the idea for this graphic came to him.
“I had seen a few other posters with the Ukraine flag on Reddit for other political issues, so took that format and applied it.” However, such actions have their roots in the past as well. In 1943, a poster urged Americans to carpool. The wording of this poster stated: “When You Ride ALONE You Ride with Hitler!” It was a government campaign that urged the public to conserve resources necessary, as the USA was involved in World War Two.
In these graphics, the designers intertwine issues most concerning to the public in order to convince people of mass mobilisation. What Gray has cleverly done now, is form a link between the war in Ukraine and the emergency facing our climate. Uniting the public’s demand for change under one action: riding a bike.
Gray said: “I think the war’s unique connection to climate change really hit a nerve for people who have been involved with climate protests in the past.”
“Like many young people, I am hyper-aware of the climate issue and how it will affect many people’s futures. In my daily life, I live with the climate crisis in mind, from cycling to eating vegan. I do my best as an individual to lower my carbon footprint, but know that isn’t enough, as policy and private sector investment will drive change the most.”
As global issues continue to pile up it can be natural to worry about which one deserves our attention and merits action first. However, fighting the war in Ukraine and combating the climate emergency is possible through riding a bike. Aptly summed up by the well-known phrase – kill two birds with one stone.