The planet is dying. Are you going to save her ?

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The numbers are grim. Humans have significantly altered three-quarters of the earth’s land area, and leaving more than half a million species without enough habitats to survive.

Our forests are flattened. We’ve destroyed a third of the planet’s forest cover.

Our oceans are running dry. Our development of coastlines, drilling of sea beds, and plastic pollution make the seas inhospitable to healthy marine life populations.

Climate change, Industrial pollution, Epidemics, the list is endless.

virus

And most of this is caused due to human interference with nature. Oceans have more plastic than fish; hills have more rubbish strewn by us than what it can sustain.

We need to understand the role nature plays in our life. We do not exist independently of nature. We need pollinators to grow fruits and vegetables, freshwater streams and wetlands to supply and filter drinking water, fertile soils to meet our agricultural demands, forests to provide medicines, and oceans to provide food.

So what is the tipping point before the earth around us totally collapses?

How more of the blame game are we going to be playing, before the planet totally caves in and disintegrates?

How much more collateral damage are we going to allow in the name of progress?

What are we leaving behind for the future generations to come?

Is rapid technological progress and human activity that continue to add heat trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, driving the Earth to the edge?

pollution

Every day, new evidence of our unsustainable impact on the environment is emerging. We are seeing the effects of climate change from the North Pole to the South Pole and everywhere in between.

The UN estimates that, in the last 10 years, climate-related disasters have caused $1.4 trillion of damage worldwide. The unprecedented loss of biodiversity we are seeing today is an existential threat to human life and economic development. If the biodiversity index were considered akin to the stock market, our planet would be heading for a spectacular crash.

No human technology can fully replace “nature’s technology”, which is perfected over hundreds of millions of years in sustaining life on Earth.

We can’t have a prosperous future on a depleted planet. If we continue to produce, consume and power our lives the way we do right now, forests, oceans and weather systems will be overwhelmed and collapse.

Bottom line: We can fix this.

planet-earth 

We have the power to stop the projected ecological catastrophe, but it will require a paradigm shift—a radical reorganizing of our technological, economic, social, and economic systems.  We will have to say a Good-bye to extractive industries, like mining, biomass, and fossil fuels, and say hello to recycling, renewables, and reusables.

We must curb our consumption rates across the board, (ditching our plastic habits is just the beginning). And trade-offs—less meat for more vegetables, more public transit for less pollution.

And we must, above all, make the planet’s natural systems a leading priority in our collective fights for a better world. Anything less won’t cut it.

The moot question however is- are we willing?

 -M

 

 

PC:CC0 Public domain;WashingtonPost;Economictimes

Sustainable Tourism

queens necklace

Mumbai’s Marine Drive has a curvy, 3.6 km long boulevard and is perhaps, one of the most famous landmarks in the city.

Popularly known as the Queen’s Necklace,  when the coastline gets lit up in the evenings, is an essential on every tourist’s itinerary or for that matter even the locals as they love taking a casual stroll around the periphery of the Marine Drive or simply sitting by the Arabian sea watching the sunset.

However, the same Marine Drive is now in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons. Recently the Arabian Sea washed up more than two lakh kilograms of garbage on the shoreline after the recent high tide.

mumbai

Needless to say, it was the same litter that people tossed in the sea and other water bodies.

However, Mumbai is not the only city that has been grappling with the issue of sea pollution. In 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage, a long stretch of area in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California, created waves on the internet for the shocking amount of garbage it contains that is choking all the marine life.

pacific

All this reiterates that it is high time both tourists as well as local citizens and government bodies , take the responsibility  to maintain the sanctity of the destinations specially those that are abundant in natural resources and find ways and means to reduce the impact of ecological degradation.

The NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is the premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. The Aayog supports a cooperative federal structure where the Center and the States prepare development policies together.

Under its vision documents for 2017-2024, one of the focuses is on the impacts of mass tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) in particular.

NMSHE

IHR is significant for India. Stretching for about 2,400 kilometres, the IHR extends from the Indus River in the west to the Brahmaputra River in the east. It covers 10 mountain states and four hill districts of India that make up the country’s north and north-eastern borders.

Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh , Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya , Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the part of the IHR.

IHR also shares borders with six neighbouring countries (China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Bangladesh)

Springs

With its towering snow-laden peaks, majestic landscapes, rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, the Indian Himalayan Region has regularly drawn visitors and pilgrims from the Indian sub-continent and across the world. Every year an average of about 100 million tourists visit the ecologically sensitive area which is home to about 50 million people.  This number will soon be touching the 240 million mark in seven years, putting a huge pressure on the state’s natural resources.

himalayas

Some of the proposals of NITI aayog in promotion of Sustainable Tourism in IHR are:-

  • Disaster management and Pollution control (including Climate Change)
  • Visitor Control Mechanism to track the number of visitors every year.
  • Tourist Traffic Management Mechanism to forecast and manage vehicular traffic in the destination.
  • Recommended introduction of a “green cess” from consumers to increase tax revenue and assist in maintaining critical services
  • A zero waste policy to reduce, reuse, and recycle solid waste.
  • Mapping and revival of springs across the Himalayas
  • Ensuring that infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants, and road and rail networks in forest areas are ecologically friendly.
  • Controlling decibel levels (No loud talking or music in protected areas).
  • Resource and Ecology management mechanism, to conserve biology as well as, restore ecology for better management of natural resources and biodiversity.

himalayan-glacier

Tourism is a very complex industry involving numerous stakeholders and requiring significant amount of resources. As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The need for sustainable planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole.

 

 

 

 

 

Source Credits : NITI Aayog
PC;NDTV;Reddit;wwf.org.au;Countercurrents.org;NMSHE; Downtoearth.org;

Leave the spot better than you found it!

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You’ve most likely heard of Sustainable Tourism sometime or the other. Natural resource preservation at some of the major destinations around the globe and the people who visit them are becoming more attuned to the environmental impact of tourism.

While traveling sustainably is becoming ever more popular, many people are still unfamiliar with the concept and just how easy it can really be.

Being sustainable does not mean being uncomfortable!

The very importance of sustainable tourism lies on its three pillars

  • The Ecological pillar: e.g. conserving and lowering the impact on the environment the natural environment of the destination
  • The economic pillar: support local businesses intending to generate employment and income for the local people
  • The social pillar: respect the culture and the people

The tourism industry in all its forms helps boost the economy of a country, which is a great thing. Not only does it generate reasonable foreign exchange but it also incidental in creating job and employment opportunities. Tourism is often responsible for increasing regional development and infrastructure particularly in isolated areas.

Because we are travel nerds over here, we are going to focus on specific ways you can spread the green gospel while traveling. Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to be a more conscious traveller on your next adventure and journeys to come.

Stay longer and reduce carbon emissions:

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How we wish we can zip across the world in a more eco-friendly way! Until that happens we have no choice but to fly. Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on carbon emissions when flying. Consider the length of your trip in relation to the distance you’re travelling. In practice, this means the further you fly, the longer you should stay there. So if you’re considering a trip to the Caribbean then you should stay for at least a fortnight rather than flying there and back in a week. Avoid taking multiple flights within a country. Instead look at train travel or alternative modes of transportation that cause less emissions output.

Ditch the Plastic

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Plastic is a problem.  Bottles, packing materials, plastic bags.  Yeah, it’s not good. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle With You While Traveling: It may seem simple to purchase a bottle of water at the airport, at your hotel, or at the train station. But it is far more lovable to the nature if you have a reusable bottle that you can fill up for free. More and more places are adding in water fill stations, enabling you to get fresh water and also save money! Also don’t forget to carry a reusable bag for your shopping.

Did you know:-Plastic bottles have surpassed plastic bags as the biggest threat to oceans and rivers

Support Local Farmers Markets

market

Hey foodies, we know you love chomp chomping away on your travels. After all, isn’t eating like 95% of what we travel for? Pretty Much.
So here’s the deal, why don’t you buy groceries from a locally owned market or farmers market or try dining at a farm-to-table restaurants while traveling? Also food tours that highlight local grown produce are a great way to enjoy the local cuisine.

This is my favourite! Shop local!

ubud-

Chances are you have an Armani or an H&M in your hometown, but still you are completely blown away by the window display and are itching to shop. How about gifting your loved ones something meaningful and small, that are run or made by locals, women and those that promote sustainability? Nothing beats bringing home a gift from a place that no one else has!

Take public transportation as often as possible or get a bike! Enough said.

Last, but not least, stay at environmentally-friendly accommodation.

Glasgow-Airbnb

I know this is a hard one to swallow for the honeymooners or budget conscious couple. You can actually travel affordably abroad through Air B-N-B and still get your privacy. Not to mention some of these homes are GORGEOUS! Or you can do your bit even if you stay at a swanky hotel. Chances are you’ve seen signs at hotels you have stayed in suggesting that you reuse your towels and bed sheets. Conserving electricity and water can make a huge difference even while you are on vacation.

Some of the places that support Sustainable Tourism:

faroe

 

Faroe Islands are truly cinematic. The islands are known not only for their picturesque nature, but also for their sustainable fisheries, unique gastronomy, and preservation of culture. You can explore verdant rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls throughout the island.

 

 

nz

New Zealand has long been at the forefront of sustainable tourism and they have a vision of being the world leader in such efforts by 2025. Considering nature is the most profitable export of New Zealand, it is understandable that the country tries to protect it. The country is an outdoor Mecca for nature and adventure enthusiasts.

 

bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan operates on a “high value with low impact” model of tourism. With very strict entry requirements, travellers to Bhutan must be with an approved tour operator who will arrange all travel while in the country. All visitors must pay a daily tariff, of apprx $65 as “sustainable tourism” royalty.

 

kerala-rains

Kerela has been honoured for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments. It has the first ever totally sustainable adventure park in the world, the Jatayu Earth Center, which is described as “a masterpiece combination of artistry, mythology, technology, culture, adventure, leisure and wellness put together to give every visitor a spellbinding experience.”

Did you know: Thenmala in Kerala is the first planned ecotourism destination in India created to cater to the Eco-tourists and nature lovers? 

kenya

 

Kenya: Over the years, Kenya has developed a number of voluntary programs to support and demonstrate its commitment to sustainable tourism. Many hotels and lodges away from the cities are now investing in alternative energy sources such as Solar power.

ljubljana

 

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Most people skip over Slovenia when planning a trip to Europe, which is a shame since Ljubljana is not only gorgeous but also one of the most eco-friendly destinations in Europe.

 

 

The responsibility to travel the world in a sustainable way lies with us. While there are other things you can do to be sustainable, taking these simple steps can make a huge difference as far as your impact on the planet!

The concept of “being green” has filtered down to all of us in one way or another – but how do we ensure it doesn’t become another Instagram trend?

It’s time we all engage seriously with the issue of sustainable travel.

Go Green!

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC: Lonely Planet;Pexel; Viator