Would You Travel Less to Save the Environment?

| 10/9/2009 12:32:12 PM

Tags: travel, eco-friendly travel, national parks, question to readers,

YellowstoneThe recent PBS series National Parks: America's Best Idea has drawn some great attention to our nation's protected wilderness areas and, hopefully, has reinvigorated our appreciation of the parks in the process. Along those lines, as pointed in Don't Be a National Park Bagger (from Utne Reader, MOTHER EARTH NEWS's sister magazine), it also elicits some important questions about the environmental impact of travel and about how we travel, specifically, the impact of taking fewer but more engaged trips versus that of taking many more cursory trips.

From carbon footprints to added wear and tear on everything from trails to monuments, travel of any kind leaves its mark on the environment, a point that's been discussed in MOTHER EARTH NEWS and, even more so, in travel-oriented blogs such as Vagablogging and World Hum. The difficulty of balancing the environmental effects of your travels with a desire to see and appreciate firsthand the natural and manmade marvels of the world isn't an easy task, and is an issue that's inspired numerous blog posts, articles and passionate discussions on travel forums and other online communities. What do you think? Would you travel less, or otherwise change the way you travel, out of concern for the environment?


fran tracy
11/7/2009 10:30:46 AM

It is fine to change some behaviors but the whole country is going carazy. I guess they want us to go back to living in a log cabin with no use of electricity and eat only what we grow. What about reality? Lets do our part but still be able to enjoy life alittle. Since Nancy Palosy uses a 200 person jet to get back and forth to Washington every week at a cost of $60,000 each way, I don't feel guilty at the energy I use. Fran

rev gary gladhill
10/14/2009 9:37:04 AM

EDR.Do you not keep up on world issues.They are cutting down all the trees ergo there is nothing to use the carbon dioxide you so dearly love.Wake up man

10/13/2009 7:58:34 PM

Well, considering the massive impact that air travel has on climate change, we are definitely trying to minimize that type of travel. But we are also looking into eco-tourist businesses and off-the-grid accommodations to offset the use of that mode of transport. As for those who've responded with wisecracks re: Al Gore, and 'brainwashing'-- you should really check into the scientific basis for the claims people like Gore are making. Check out the film 'The Age of Stupid'. It gives a pretty tidy explanation of all the actual, factual science behind climate change, and urges all of us in the massively over-consumptive West to try a bit harder to make some changes that matter. I agree that there have always been climatic fluctuations on this planet, but none even remotely approach what we are dealing with now. I also agree with Doug, that each of our individual acts, like putting in a new type of light bulb or recycling, don't mean much compared with what giant corporate entities and developing nations are putting out there. That's why it is high time for all of us to DO SOMETHING to attract their attention, and let them know that you will no longer accept purely profit-oriented planning, development, waste treatment, building and energy use. If you're wondering what that something might be, check out http://www.350.org/. Or just sit there.

lisa d.
10/13/2009 1:35:27 PM

We have traveled less frequently during the past several years. Our single vehicle stays parked in the driveway more, and trips to the market and downtown are done on foot. We might fill our gas tank once a month. If we could afford it, we'd do like lobo and his wife...travel via scooters. That would be ideal!

10/13/2009 5:43:10 AM

Nope! I don't believe that we are messing up the earth. I believe it's all a bunch of hype. If all the hype takes place lot's of people stand to make a HUGE profit from it. Nope! I'm not buying Al Gore his next plane. I homestead already... not because of enviroment, but because we enjoy it.

10/12/2009 9:06:51 PM

Being Native American, and having studied into our history, I can say there is a way to exist and travel softly upon 'our mother'. But 'our' land is already taken, and being used in a very different way, so it is practically impossible to do that now. I want to be safe [when traveling], and yet to use environmental means when and where possible. I would also travel less, yet make each (that) trip as memorable, fun and educational as possible.

jessica reeves-rush
10/12/2009 5:43:34 PM

We really don't make it outside WA state too much. Mostly because we have small kids. But we are planning a trip to Disneyland next year. I don't enjoy flying so we'll drive. Plus there is so much to see between here and there. The big debate is whether to take the gas guzzling slightly unreliable but much roomier 1999 minivan, or the Prius which is averageing 51.5 MPG. Mind you, we are a family of 5. It's doubtful the luggage will even fit, but surprisingly the prius is winning. BTW, since we bought the prius a month ago we have been (especially my husband) teased mercilessly. We bought it because he has to commute now, 2 hours round trip. We are looking at about $25 dollars a week to go approx 500 miles per week. I'm sorry, but that is worth it, plus it's fun to drive!

10/12/2009 4:44:51 PM

Only if I thought it would make a difference, and I don't. So, nope.

howard locke_2
10/12/2009 4:37:58 PM

Oh, indeed! I've committed to only viewing travel destinations on TV or internet. In fact, I have lined the walls of my home with carbon-filtering media and rarely go outside lest I pollute the environment with my breathing. Lately, I have been practicing a new form of meditation where I continuously inhale while inwardly voicing my new mantra, "al-gor-al-gor-al-gor-al-gor-al-gor...." while visualising polar bears in life-rafts.

10/12/2009 2:08:00 PM

Having never had any portion of my life not living hand to mouth, I have always combined trips, reused, repurposed and scrimped on everything. My carbon footprint is as small as it can be without being dead. I suspect many people are going to be like this shortly, and cap and trade bill will be alot of the cause. I would like to know WHY people are so afraid of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is used by trees to produce oxygen, which we all breathe, didn't anybody pay attention in science class? If you force people to reduce their carbon footprint, you will starve the trees. When I went to school the SUN was the weather maker, and I don't believe that little old mankind is capable of changing anything about this planet, except to perhaps blow it to smithereens. Now that would be a tragedy. However, I think Mother Earth News and many other publications are going way too far on this issue. Conserve, yes. Allow others to infringe on civil liberties and interfere with the everyday life of billions of people, NO. Stop allowing yourselves to be brainwashed. You do it to you detriment, not your benefit.

10/12/2009 9:36:45 AM

This is an addon for MC's sake: My wife and I live in a bedroom community near Dallas, Tx yes that makes us a "burb". However we have converted our back yard to a producing garden, we have replaced our front flower beads with strawberries, grapes and berries. with a bit of fencing we also have 4 chickens running in the back yard. yes my town allows this as long they are not roosters. we can a lot of our garden excess, as well as share it with a couple or older ladies in our neighborhood. Waiting for some one else to do something first is sortts like hoping the Titanic wont sink. As the man said once: "I cannot change the world. I can only change myself".

10/12/2009 9:27:31 AM

My wife and I have already made the change, firstly we both ride scooters that get a bit over 80 mpg while doing 65 mph. That means if we are riding side by side we get an average of just a smidgen over 41mpg for the 2 of us. We live in Texas, and while there is a lot to see and do all over the United States, we have made a decision to not travel outside of our state. We generaly do "weekend trips" spending the night and returning by a different route. Its quite amazing the sights and scenery one can see when you get off the Interstate Network and travel the "secondary roads". We take a small camp stove along and use the rest stops to rest and fix a meal, we either use the trash barells that Texas DOT places at the rest stops or we bag it up and take it with us and use the trash bins at a fuel stop.

10/10/2009 9:55:51 AM

We still drive too much for work. Other than trying to organize a car pool or hope for telecommuting, I don't know what to do about it. I don't see the 'burbs as sympathetic to a more sustainable, more self-reliant lifestyle. I might change my opinion if the 'burbs changed their attitude. But the 'burbanites are going to have to take the first step on that one. They could start with moving away from the pseudo-affluent development model, un-banning clotheslines and changing their attitue toward chickens. For leisure, we do travel less, choose more local destinations, and concentrate long-distance trips to include several points of interest. I very much like the idea of taking less, and more involved, vacations. You get so much more out of them. A cursory trip is fun, and then it's over. A trip you take the time to really get into makes memories, teaches lessons, and raises questions and interests that continue the fun for years to come.

10/10/2009 1:51:30 AM

Yes, I already do travel less, on a daily basis anyhow. Through hypermiling, trip combining and abstinence I have cut down my tank fillups to once a month from 1.5 to 2 weeks in the past. Of course I save money in the process and waste less time on frivolous trips. My future goal is to live in a community where I don't need a car.

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