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Tourism Killing the Eco System??

socalgirl

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  • Added on: September 13th, 2003
Just wondered if anyone read the article eco system

Wow, does this mean we should stop traveling for the sake of the planet?

And Cancun? Does that mean the untreated sewage is in the water & beaches of Cancun? Darn, I hoped to go there someday, but maybe have to rethink.

What's your thoughts?
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Nikos

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  • Added on: September 13th, 2003
Look, you can argue that practically everything we do has a negative effect on the environment in one way or another. Our mere existence on this planet has had and is having an increasingly devastating effect.

That being said, apart for mass suicide or regressing to living in caves, we can't nullify our effect, and the only viable policy is to try to minimize our impact. How? Well, of course by not making irrational use of resources, and by selecting our action based on environmental cost versus civilization benefit.

Tourism, when practiced in a moderately responsible manned, will of course have some effect to the environment, but it also returns cultural and civil benefits. There are countless other practices of the western world that offer less and destroy more.

So while it is true that tourism has a negative impact, it is hardly the first thing on the list of protective action for the environment, and indeed it may not be in the list at all, because there is a very real and very important social benefit from people getting to know the rest of the world.

Next time someone argues that by using airplanes to go places you contribute to air pollution, remind them that practically every bit of vegetable in their daily salad has travelled by air from the other side of the world to get there. And for every damn tomato and lettuce, for every damn day the environment gets damaged as much as when you go for holiday. (what? once, twice a year at most?) This is because it is cheaper for a company to pay transport fees to import tomatoes made by unpaid african workers (especially when the WTO makes sure it's easy and cheap to do that - which also points to a recent thread by LiveNomadic) and leave some unemployed workers in the West. And most important, in that case there is no real social benefit, the only benefit is corporate profit.

I'm an environmentalist all right, but we have to be assessing everything we hear against the grave evidence of western industrial and corporate practices, and keep ourselves focused. Home recyling, and articles like the one quoted above are nothing but a means to shift the blame to the individual civilian and create guilt, whereas the real damage is done elsewhere for the profiting of an already rich minority.

By the way, I recommend wiping Cancun off your wish list. It is really a shitty place. If you're in the region better try Tulum further south, or even better, Belize.

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2wanderers

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  • Added on: September 13th, 2003
Interesting. To me this is more an indication that people should just travel more responsibly. Don't flock in large droves to places with sensitive environments.

As for untreated sewage in the water off Cancun, probably. But don't think it's all that uncommon. Everywhere in the world there needs to be some sewage disposal, but only a few places are able to afford sufficient treatment. Even in Canada, there are still places where the political will to spend money on sewage treatment hasn't been mustered. Halifax is famous for dumping raw sewage into their harbour. (Most famous for using their 'harbour clean-up fund' to move the pipes out to the middle so you couldn't smell them from shore. To give the tourists a good impression.)

The overall effects of responsible tourism on the environment are neglibible next to the effects of people just living their daily lives. The problem is too many people on too small of a planet.

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  • Added on: September 13th, 2003
Honestly, I wont advice everyone on this forum to not worry about travel affecting the enviroment.

Why? Because its not a lone backpack who uses local transport and stays and local hostel that ruin things.

Its luxury club med style hotels that are all slammed together side by side while they fly in imported beef and brandy who bring in thousands to spring breakers every year.

Yes by traveling you are destroying the enviroment a tiny bit... but overall I think that travel is the enviroment best hope of survival.. other than volunteer extermination of the human race... (ie http://www.vhemt.org/)

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LiveNomadic

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  • Added on: September 13th, 2003
If you can understand my drunken explanation above... congrats.
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socalgirl

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  • Added on: September 16th, 2003
Thanks everyone for your input.

Niko- thanks for the tip on Belize, I will plan on going.

I know I always try to leave a place just as I found it or cleaner.

Happy traveling Wink
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Gertrude

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  • Added on: September 16th, 2003
Nikos said
quote:
Our mere existence on this planet has had and is having an increasingly devastating effect.

That being said, apart for mass suicide or regressing to living in caves, we can't nullify our effect, and the only viable policy is to try to minimize our impact.


I totally agree. We need to stop pretending that if we leave a few acres of forest alone then all will be good. Humans are here and multiplying and our sheer numbers alone will force us to the very corners of the world.

Sustainability is what we should be shooting for--in travel and daily life. Reuse that cup then recycle it, solarize your energy source, share with your neighbors, grow your own veggies. But don't pretend that we can reverse anything, all we can do is stave, but we've got to get crackin!

holythunder

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  • Added on: September 16th, 2003
I consider myself very environmentally conscious. At the same time I am no radical who only wants things to go nature's way. As nikos says the aim should not be to nullify but to minimize.

So what can the lone backpacker do?

Several things, and this is not just when you are traveling.

1) Reuse, Reuse, Reuse. All those plastic water bottles that you drink from once and toss away...reuse them.

2) At the grocery store when they offer you a BIG plastic bag for a tiny box of mints, refuse politely, and pocket the mints. Also let the cashier know why you are refusing plastic.

3) Recycle the plastic bags you get from the grocery stores. Most big chains have a recycling dump some place in the store.

4) When you are traveling abroad, try to find tour groups/org. that promote eco-tourism. Maybe a little bit more expensive, but you know some environmental thought has gone into its development.

5) A lot of countries do not have a great waste disposable system. You may have to travel miles before you come across a trash can. Try to hold onto your waste, especially non bio-degradable stuff, till you find a thrash can. At least the litter will not lie around all over the place. This is especially true of remote areas.

6) This may be a little extreme, but if you are really concerned you may want to try it...most poorer nations have a lot of ragpickers. They are society's unofficial recyclers. Try to give your plastic, glass, paper waste to them. They usually use it.

Hope this makes some sense.

Keep traveling. It's the only way you will realize what precious treasures could be lost if we are too negligent.

Dewbie

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  • Added on: September 16th, 2003
Vancouver has a recycling system in place which I use to its full extent! It is amazing how little garbage that I have now. Makes a HUGE difference. Do the US cities have a "blue box" type recycling program where you put out your recycling like on trash day and a recycle truck picks it up?

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  • Added on: September 16th, 2003
"75 percent of the sewage of the population is untreated"

That's completely untrue-if it were true then you could smell s*** from the $US400+/night hotels-believe me no one is going to pay that kind of money to smell s***.

I doubt that person that wrote that has ever been near Cancun.

When I first started travelling to Mexico in the early 80's Isla Mujeres and Puerto Escondido both had no sewage treatment-over they years that's changed-systems have been installed and even occasionally upgraded.

The world is changing sometimes for the worse sometimes for the better.

M'self I try to stay in low-key places run by locals and I don't judge how they run their lives.

Years ago in Canada people used to rid themselves of garbage by burning/burying-I dug a large garden in Kitsilano down about 3 feet one year-the stuff I found was amazing/revolting.

Now one poster mentions the expensive but seemingly effective recycling system we have.

Similarly people in developing countries will one day have systems of their own but it takes time.

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LiveNomadic

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2003
quote:
I don't judge how they run their lives.



Thats strange, because you seem to really enjoy judging how Americans run theres...

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Sam Salmon

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2003
Feeling slightly burned around the edges?

The people who run cheap hotels in developing countries aren't promoting political agendas that negatively impact the lives of billions of humans-the US American gov't is.

So if you're feeling a tiny tiny bit of heat from time to time that's the price of Empire-your Empire-the one you were brought up in.

This will never change in your lifetime-in fact you will see it worsen.

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Nick

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  • Added on: September 18th, 2003
Human beings change the eco system and human population is increasing at record speed. As said previously almost everything we do is going to have an effect, not just tourism.

Similar statements can be made as far as culture ( tourism destroys culture ). Its up to each traveler how seriously you take this and what your actions will be. Think globally act locally.

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LiveNomadic

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  • Added on: September 19th, 2003
This brings up an interesting point my geography professor stated and got me thinking.

I know interaction between cultures changes them, but when is any non-isolated culture static? Culture is constantly changing with new people, new ideas, and new objects. It would change without interaction with the west, but in a different way.

Tourism/interaction does not destroy culture but is a factor in the constant change of the culture.

I thought this was really insightful.

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lunasol

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  • Added on: September 19th, 2003
It's funny this topic should come up right now, i was just thinking about it.

I was in Colorado yesterday, in a national park. it was beautiful, but it's two hours out of denver, and very, very touristy. in fact, you can drive right up to the highest pass in colorado (12000 ft) and there's an overlook, complete with a gift shop and restaurant.
i was bitching about this, and my friend matt, a native coloradoan (is that a word?) from a town near that park, said:
"yeah, but this is the type of place that turns people into envrionmentalists."

He's right, and that pretty much shut me up...
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
--Margaret Mead


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