Roads, blame the Romans

A collection of climate stories mostly

Andrew Howells
5 min readSep 8


How many miles of roads do you think the Romans built when they had an empire? 55,000 miles of them, which does seem quite a lot.

But then at the height of their power in the 2nd century AD, the empire stretched from the Scottish Highlands in the north to the Sahara Desert in the south and west from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates River in the east; 2 million square miles nearly.

A bit like last week’s letter, I’m concerned that I’m hiding by implication, that owning an electric vehicle (EV), Tesla Model Y, is a selfless act which supports the environment. It may be better than the fossil fuel alternatives, but you still need a road to drive it on and rare earths like lithium in the battery chemistry.

Recently, I had an alert which popped up on the Tesla app and the over-sized flat screen in the car. A tyre service was required, something I’d never seen before.

I’d read in a few places that EVs need more frequent tyre changes than their fossil fuel equivalents because they’re heavier. I booked in, especially with the French voyage coming up.

Unlike other manufacturers, the Tesla technician paid us a home visit several days later. I was already delighted with the convenience and timing before he dispelled the longevity myth and the need to have a special foam filled tyre. A tyre on a Tesla will last 25–30,000 miles if driven sensibly, avoiding the urge for doughnuts, not of the Krispy Kreme variety.

Foam filled tyres were designed by tyre manufacturers like Michelin and Continental, not Tesla. They absorb some of the cavity noise when driving, making it quieter inside. I’d say it definitely works.

Cars are a luxury which we justify because other forms of public transport are less convenient and often more expensive.

If you want to encourage people to drive less, then make the driving experience really bad or super expensive. There is no better example of this than London where the available transport network of tube, train and bus is still more…