I write this sitting quietly in a log cabin located in the midst of a lush and
quintessentially English cottage garden. It's misty outside but the
song birds are celebrating the close of another magnificent and a
seemingly normal Spring day. So far this year, we've experienced a
normal set of seasons - a cold winter, windy and showery spring and
prospects of a hot summer ahead. Even Wimbledon is prepared with its
new roof and there'll be strawberries and cream as usual with the
chance to forget the financial meltdown - even while another meltdown
continues to take place with disproportionately less fanfare and sense
of gloom. It's in this context that a growing sense of complacency
within the business community, and especially the tourism community,
regarding the climate change threat, should come as no surprise. The
financial crisis, the ensuing recession and the dramatic declines in
visitors, revenues and yields have diverted our attention to less
scary, more familiar issues.
Next week, the American travel industry will launch yet another campaign extolling the virtues of travel with the headline "Travel Matters!" suggesting that travel can be the primary engine of economic recovery and is good for our health. The Q & A sheet in support of the campaign complains that business travel has been "mischaracterized" and makes the following arguments in defence of leisure travel:
Leisure travel is important because it’s essential to good health. Travelers rate their overall health one full point higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) while on vacation. And they receive three times more sleep after vacations and sleep almost 20 minutes longer. An annual vacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50 percent.
Of course "travel matters" but so does health care, the production of quality yet affordable food, the care of our elderly, the education and safety of our young etc. If the slogan was "Travel Cares" and was backed with the actions that tourism is taking to address the real issues facing humanity right now, I could back it.
In the meantime, "nature" knows nothing of our human issues.Nature simply obeys implacable laws with no regard to their impacts on our human psyches and what we consider to be our well being. Nature simply and relentlessly adapts. And adaptation is what is happening in the Arctic. As temperatures rise and more ice melts so the gazillions of microbes embedded in the permafrost start to feed on the decaying vegetable matter trapped beneath the surface. Their process of consumption - like ours - emits waste but their waste (methane gas) is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than Co2.
If you harboured any lngering doubts that climate change would seriously and intensively affect your life or that of your children, then think again and read this article or watch the video from the LA Times last week . Bubbles of warming, beneath the ice - Los Angeles Times.
is one of the wild cards that the IPCC scientists recognized as
potentially aggravating the problem but did not, dare not, include in
Moral of this tale? If we want to enjoy the birdsong and avoid the bubbles. we'll need more than rhetoric and hot air......