Warning to Tourists: Tread Lightly

The fundamental element in sustainable travel is making sure that the places you visit will still be there when you return. Because skiing isn’t fun when you’re sweating through your parka. And there’s less room on the beach when the shorelines are shrinking. The Toronto Star considers these and other scary scenarios in an interesting piece on how climate change can potentially influence how we’ll travel in the future. A scary recap:

  • It’ll change our flying habits: Frequent and increasingly intense storms will keep planes grounded, and rising summer weather temperatures will make it harder for them to take off.
  • And limit our selection of destinations:

Martha Honey, former executive director at the International Ecotourism Society in Washington, D.C., says that climate change is already apparent in many of the “stunning places around the world we like to visit.”

She points to the rising ocean levels affecting islands in the South Pacific, melting snow at the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and severe winters in Montenegro.

Divers have seen the damage to coral reefs. Skiers have undoubtedly noticed that their season seems shorter and conditions less predictable. Rain forests are starting to die back. Popular urban destinations, such as London, Athens and Los Angeles, are experiencing more and more smog days, when airborne pollutants are at dangerously high levels.

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  • Plus it’ll make us sick: The World Wildlife Fund released a report(PDF) saying climate change will “increase the risk of illness in several parts of the world and consequently discourage tourism.”

A British think tank has proposed instituting a lottery system that would limit the number of foreign travelers permitted to visit popular ecotourism destinations, and taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) from the tourism industry as a result. The industry contends that only by visiting threatened areas will travelers become inured with a sense of duty to save them. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

(PDF) saying climate change will “increase the risk of illness in several parts of the world and consequently discourage tourism.”

A British think tank has proposed instituting a lottery system that would limit the number of foreign travelers permitted to visit popular ecotourism destinations, and taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) from the tourism industry as a result. The industry contends that only by visiting threatened areas will travelers become inured with a sense of duty to save them. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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