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Global Warming—What You Can Do
By Ingrid Ahlgren
Scientists differ over degrees of global warming and the specific risks it may pose, but no matter how you look at it, it's happening, and how we travel could have an effect.
he July/August issue of Traveler focuses on how climate change will impact travel and tourism around the world. What can you do about global warming? Here are five ways travelers can help.
1. Think about how you travel.
"Choose transport mode wisely," says Susanne Becken, who leads the tourism and sustainability group at Landcare Research, a New Zealand environmental research organization. In 1999, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that aircraft are responsible for about 3.5 percent of human-generated climate change. Generally, train travel is more energy efficient than flying. If you really need to fly, Becken suggests that you choose the most direct route. At the destination, Becken says you can use environmentally sound transportation. "Do you really want to rent a car? If yes, maybe choose an energy-efficient one. Make an effort to explore by foot, and use public transport when possible."
2. Pack light.
"Every extra kilogram on a plane consumes fuel," says Becken. "Sometimes we pack far too much." Do you need the extra bag of clothing?
3. Consider carbon-offset programs.
Several organizations will offset CO2 emissions through efforts such as planting trees. For example, through one such organization, Climate Care, the emissions from a flight from Boston to Brisbane can be offset by paying £32.97 (about $57). The CarbonNeutral Company also has a carbon calculator.
4. Reduce energy use at home.
"Remember to switch things off when not in use," says Becken. "Adjust hot water temperature to 55 degrees Celsius (131°F) in your boiler [hot water heater]. Most boilers are far too hot. Raise fridge temperatures." Try to walk or bike instead of driving.
5. Contribute to global warming research during your vacation.
The Earthwatch Institute, an international non-profit organization that gives volunteers the opportunity to join research teams around the world, has some expeditions that focus on global warming. These include "Climate Change in the Rainforest" in Queensland, Australia, and "Climate Change at the Arctic's Edge" in Churchill, Manitoba.