Author Topic: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated  (Read 401 times)

ergophobe

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Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« on: May 07, 2018, 09:23:40 PM »
As someone who's household income depends 90% on tourism-related activities and as someone who thinks the climate problem is absolutely urgent... this is a sad and troubling study result

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44005013

But don't worry. I plan to bury my head in the sand, seek contradictory studies and convince myself that I'm doing the right thing. HHH

littleman

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2018, 12:16:19 AM »
'Are we the Baddies?'

I'm going to assume that a home rental near Yosemite, where probably most of the tenants are driving from within a 300 mile radius has a lot less of a footprint than most vacations.

Brad

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2018, 01:09:13 AM »
You know, people use a certain amount of carbon whether they stay home or travel.  Running the gas lawnmower spews more pollution than a modern car even if the carbon usage is less.

I call these "guilt trip articles" (no pun), there is no perfect industry, tourism is a lot less bad than others.

ergophobe

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2018, 01:37:23 AM »
home rental near Yosemite

Well, the rental is only part of it. And a large number of the guests are coming from the east coast or abroad.

The majority of the household income is from marketing more resort-style hotels in the US and Australia. I've got two open in GA now and they are 14% and 12% foreign travel. I didn't drill down to see how much is from further away than the drive market, but it's probably substantial (seasonal though).

Anyway, just noting that there is some tension there.

You know, people use a certain amount of carbon whether they stay home or travel.

That's true, but my general observation is that they tend to be a lot more profligate on vacation. Actually, I should say "we tend" since I'm guilty of it as well. More single-serve stuff, more disposable stuff, more letting yourself live a little.

I believe strongly that there is an inherent good in vacation, in experiencing nature, in getting away from your town and seeing other places and how other people live. I remember having been told French people hate Americans and then traveling to France and getting an unbelievably warm welcome. People were so nice to me, it bowled me over. Friends who, in more recent times, have traveled to Iran have reported the same thing. Only travel can teach you that.

My first trip abroad was to India and Nepal when I was 21. I stayed in people's hay barns, slept on their floors without a blanket because they only owned one blanket for each bed and had no extra for guests and saw things that were so far from my middle-class upbringing. Only travel can teach you that.

So I'm not saying it's not worth the carbon cost and that everyone should stay home.

Just acknowledging that while that is one of my values, it is in tension with another one of my values. And actually, as I think of it, another of my values is that it is good for us to hold multiple disconsonant ideas in our heads at once.

Our rental and most of the hotels we deal with are in or near national parks. Going back to the beginning, before people worried at all about climate, early advocates of the parks recognized the very tension I'm talking about here.

People will rarely love a place they haven't visited.
People will rarely take action to preserve a place they don't love.
But by bringing large numbers of people to a place in order to teach them to love it, you put the place in jeopardy.

That basic observation is what drove Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service, to insist that every park have a luxury hotel. He knew that a key to preserving wild lands in America was getting senators and Rockefellers to visit (and indeed, the Rockefeller family gave huge amounts to preserve land and singlehandedly put up the funds to stop the logging companies from logging what is now known as the Rockefeller Grove in Yosemite NP).

But at the same time, they recognized the danger. This tension is embodied in a famous phrase from the 1916 Organic Act that created the Park Service

Quote
to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations

One the one hand, there is a mandate to leave those lands unimpaired. On the other, there is a mandate to "provide for their enjoyment."

Within NPS, there are always those who lean toward "enjoyment" and those who lean toward "unimpaired."
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 01:51:59 AM by ergophobe »

ergophobe

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2018, 01:42:53 AM »
Which is my typically long-winded way of not quite getting to the point (I thank you for not banning me so far... I mean well HHH).

The point being, that I do think people should travel and see places. There is an inherent good there. So it is incumbent on all involved in the travel and tourism industry to reduce the carbon footprint in their industry.

It is all the more important in our industry, because the very product that we are selling is at risk, in part because of the fact that we are selling the product (which is different from most industries). The ski sector of travel and tourism in particular is grappling with this.

So it does not make me want to stop people from traveling, but it does make me want to double down on finding ways to reduce the footprint of people who do.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 01:53:00 AM by ergophobe »


ergophobe

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2018, 02:56:56 PM »
Just sayin

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/climate-change-true-believers-are-least-likely-to-change-their-own-behavior-study-finds/?ref=yfp

I had not seen that study, but

1. I could tell you stories from personal experience (and will in a second) that match that very well

2. It's often pointed at as a problem in "climate" circles. Too much "catastrophism" leads people to inaction. Some people refer to it as "soft denial." Meaning there are the climate deniers, who take no action because they don't believe it's happening, and there are the climate catastrophists who take no action because they don't believe it has any impact.

As for number 1, I was in a required two-day workshop on "Effective Climate Communicatiion" during my time in park service. The guy who led the workshop had us divide ourselves into five groups. They were something like:
1. don't believe it's happening
2. believe it's happening, but it's not a problem
3. believe it's a problem and are willing to take some action
4. believe it is an important problem and are willing to make major life changes
5. believe it is an urgent, critical problem and are currently striving to make major life changes to combat it.

I put myself in #3 along with my friend Adam, ex-marine, current vegan who lives like a feather on the planet. My friend Chuck, a conservative Mormon who isn't a huge energy waster just because he doesn't believe in waste in general, didn't believe climate change was human caused, so he put himself in group 2 (I'll say this was seven years ago; not sure what he thinks now).

The organizer and a few other put themselves in group 5 and, exactly as this study observed, they seemed to be the people doing the least in their personal lives to act on climate.

During the workshop, I thought my friend Adam was taking notes. Then I looked over and realized he was making tick marks in two columns. One column was labelled "Dissent" and the other was labelled "Hive mind." By the time I looked over, there were 2 ticks in Dissent (both of which, I think, were comments I had made). There were 26 tick marks under Hive Mind.

I ended up making a pretty innocuous comment (asserting that there was more A/C in SoCal mostly because of changes in wealth and culture, not temperature) and got basically yelled at by someone who had put herself in group 5. But hey, at least I got a tick mark in the Dissent column.

And then, the topper - at the end of the whole thing, the organizer (remember, he's a 5), invites everyone over for burgers and bratwurst (basically the most climate-damaging meal you could possibly serve) and announces that next week he is flying halfway around the world to Australia for vacation. So, just as in your study, the person who labels himself the most concerned also is living in total denial of his own footprint. It was gross, frankly.

It was kind of a watershed moment for me in many ways.

That said, most of my exposure to climate activists these days is through involvement in Citizen's Climate Lobby. Most people there are driving high-efficiency vehicles. The wealthier ones all have EVs. They make strong efforts to organize carpools to their events. They share tips on energy conservation and ways to reduce your personal footprint. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

One of the things that attracted me to CCL is precisely the fact that they emphasize being practical, solution-oriented, polite, non-confrontational, trying to meet people where they are and not where you want them to be, leading as best you can by example, building relationships rather than ideologies.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 03:03:26 PM by ergophobe »

ergophobe

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Re: Tourism's carbon impact three times larger than estimated
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2018, 03:19:14 PM »
BTW, Investors.com obviously has some serious axes to grind.

For example, in one article they cite a study by Nic Lewis and act as if the fact that it is not heavily covered in the "mainstream press" is a conspiracy, when Nic Lewis is a well-known denier who is a retired financier who has turned to climate skepticism as an avocation, without any advanced training in climate science.

Or this article
https://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/global-warming-hypocrites-their-carbon-footprint-is-ok-but-yours-must-be-eliminated/

I basically agree with everything in there, but the tone of it is basically "conservation scientists aren't doing jack so you don't need to either" whereas I see it just the opposite, that is "conservation scientists had better get real and put their money where there mouths are."

In other words, to me Investors.com is cherry picking articles and choosing a tone that falls into the fairly hardcore denialist camp, rather than treating the topic with any level of balance.

But the general fact of people asserting one thing and living another way is certainly true and not limited to climate. I think of the climate problem as a subset of the general "overspending" problem.

Meaning that it is fundamentally the same problem as the federal debt, consumer debt and similar problems. Almost everyone agrees those things are bad, but nobody wants to accept solutions that impact them negatively.

Radical folk singer Phil Ochs used to say: "Liberals, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally." And of course, the converse is true of conservatives as well. And that, in essence, is why the federal debt is so large and the climate problem so intractable.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 03:25:02 PM by ergophobe »