After leaving various grave and solemn postings in a number of threads, I figured we might need to get this issue on the agenda a bit more prominently:
ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSABLE TRAVEL
All of us TP visitors like travelling, and in my own left-wing esoteric conviction, travelling has lots and lots of benefits, both for the traveller and the cultures visited. However, those among us that try to cover entire continents within two or three weeks should take into account that they're mainly benefitting themselves.
Time-pressured travel requires a lot of continental or even in-country flying. I have no objection to intercontinental flying (how could I, travelling from Europe to SAmer on a yearly basis), but travellers imho should abstain from doing so on routes where buses are a feasible alternative.
Ground transportation isn't quite as harmful to the environment; moreover, you actually get to see the countries you are going, and not just hop from one LP-prescribed, touristified landmark to the next. Real local people usually don't fly, so the only way of getting to meet them is by bus. And, there is a certain charm about travelling with a young goat in your lap for three hours, or sharing coca leafs with that smelly old man next to you :-)
Concluding: air travel is not the real thing. Air travellers, buy a coffee table picture book, and stop polluting what isn't yours to pollute.
I thoroughly agree with you, although sometimes with work pressures and things it seems necessary that we use this form of travel,
what really needs to be changed is the world view on this and all types of polluting travel...and the way we approach life and to rethink lifestyles imposed on us by fast, easy flexible travel...
but its a complex issue and I think occasional flyers are not those that need to be targetted with anger but the massive government supported industries that are pumping carbon emissions out in vast quantities daily, or the millions on millions of cars that belch out their noxious fumes so the western world can be more comfortable and safe and flexible.
But hey, I drive a car, I need it to get home quickly for personal reasons.,.look at that I just made an excuse! thats twentieth century life for you, our morality and ethical sense with regards to the environment is definately a pressing issue.
On the Front cover of the guardian newspaper in England it often has massive headlines about the environment, climate change and a call for government policy to be strengthened, and then running along the top of the page "fly cheap to spain" and a centre page pull out of the latest sports car with the catch phrase..."you may not need it but you know you want it!"
I guess it's a matter of scale, and pointing to things going wrong at a higher level outside one's sphere of personal influence doesn't excuse one to commit similar errors within it.
Of course, traditional industries are the number one problem, but... why are they there? Because WE buy their products! There is this proverb in the Dutch language that everyone knows, and no-one lives up to: to improve the world, best start at your own behaviour...
[ Edit: Edited at May 18, 2006 4:59 AM by bentivogli ]
This is SO important and true.
I'm an environmental engineer and I see a lot of things everyday that makes me feel sick. Both during my travels and now, back at work. I travelled the whole South American continent, where busses are fast and comfortable (except for maybe in Bolivia where we got stuck for days in muddy roads - but that's a different story and quite a good one!), and I met loads of western tourists that asked why we didn't fly from that place to another. It was the natural alternative for them - because they could afford it and "it's so much faster"... Of course they can afford it, a lot of countries in SA are poor and dollars and euros can buy anything.
THough, what happens is: poorer countries see how the richer ones act, and it makes them think that there is no reason in the world for them to turn of their car engines or recycle. Why should they care when we don't?!? Trust me, I've been talking to lots of Peruvians and Bolivians about this and that is exactly what everyone says!!! Therefore, we (i.e. people from the "western world") have a responsibility to act thoughtfully and set a good example while travelling!!!
As bentivogli says, we can't blame industies and governemnts, it has to start with your own behaviour!!! So if you, mim, continue driving your car everyday, there won't be any changes, but if you start travelling by bus/train or whatever alternative there is, and start demanding faster/better/cheaper/more connections you can actually make a difference!!!
I really hope there is going to be a discussion about this because it's something everyone needs to think about. If we keep on like this, there might not even be any nice tropical islands to travel to in 10 years or so!!! If you don't watch it, I'll start giving you the figures about climate change...
Thanks for the support, Susanna :-)
What we could do, and what I have been doing for the last few weeks, is slip this comment in EVERY thread related to transportation. People here probably think that I'm a wining, unrealistic lefty, but I take that for granted.
I have also been thinking about a nice publicity stunt of some kind; maybe there are some nice, big bus companies that we can get to issue a "responsable travel" competition or something in that style. Anyone who has ideas how we could tackle this, or wants to join forces in taking an initiative, is most welcome.