I write this blog about ecotourism because I have a big interest in this topic and I do think it can make a difference. I want to share what I find/think interesting about it.
This blog is yours, please feel free to add any comment/suggestion/feedback or email me at guillaume.foutry (at) gmail.com

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pollution and Climate Change: the Nazism of Our Generation?

COP15 UNFCCC Climate Change - Opening CeremonyImage by UN Climate Talks via Flickr

Last week I wrote a blog post about my scepticism against the Copenhagen summit, and the more it goes the more I feel the facts are unfortunately going into that direction: A North and South divide between countries that will bring a weak resolution that is not going to change anything. Sometimes I feel people on the table do not realize the dangers ahead of us.

I have the impression they have the same attitude than France and the UK in the 1930s towards Nazi Germany: They do know it was evil, but by lack of courage, by their will to avoid a war at all cost (such as betraying and selling an ally like Czechoslovakia) and maybe also for local political consideration they did not stop what was coming. It cost us more than 60 million lives, destroyed many cities in Europe and brought mankind to an awful level of barbarity.

Now if you take the forces of climate change and pollution but brought them to a 21st century world, you can see the level of misery that is awaiting us in case of inaction.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Copenhagen: a Missed Opportunity for the Environment...Again?

The Truth About Climate Change DVD coverImage via Wikipedia

The UN summit taking place in Copenhagen might be the last opportunity we have to make a difference for the environment: reducing our carbon dioxide emissions has become urgent as we start feeling the first effects of climate change: droughts, floods and hurricanes are more common and increasingly stronger.

I am quite cynical about the summit, as in a few days it is going to reject as much carbon dioxide as a a big town would do. Moreover it is such a big summit that things have already been decided and negotiated for weeks between all the countries. And we all know what is going to happen: lots of promises, a few things signed, but nothing compulsory or that will constrain governments or businesses.

I can already give you the picture: governments from the north will set reduction targets (but will try to implement biased means of calculations) and put the pressure on countries from the South to have green policies; these ones will reply they cannot do that as they need to develop their economies first. They will also say (and to some point it is legitimate) that we created the problem and we should bear most of the burden. So lots of declarations and bla bla bla ahead, no real actions. And it is even more depressing when you think that only a few countries reached the target of the Kyoto protocol.

So what is the solution? Well we have it: let's become entrepreneurs and launch green companies. Let's become lobbyists and annoy our politicians as much as possible. Let's talk to people around us (family; friends; colleagues) and convince them we have to do something. because honestly, if we wait for our politicians to do anything, well, we are not sorted.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Killing Green, the New Creed of the US Army?

Logotype of the United States ArmyImage via Wikipedia

I just read an article from Fast Company about how the US Army tries to go green. I was sceptical about it but I tried to have a broader view on the topic: if the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet starts adopting a green approach on things, well, it that things are going into the right direction.

Moreover, if you look at all the technologies we have today such as computers, nuclear energy or anything related to space, everything has been developed thanks to military funding. And on a larger scale, a quick glance at the history of mankind and inventions would make you realize that wars accelerate innovations (but I would honestly prefer that without conflict).

It is not reassuring to know that destructive weapons are developed, but I completely agree with the Roman precept that states "if you want the peace, prepare the war". At least, we can do this without destroying the environment (and hopefully, in conflicts that might happen in the future, the planet).

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do Not Let Lake Atitlan Die!

Santiago (on right) and Lago Atitlan from Volc...Image via Wikipedia

I lived in Guatemala for a few months in 2006 and I have to say it is a country with breathtaking landscapes. If you ask me which one might be the best of all, I would go for the lake Atitlan, especially when you arrive there from the road: as you drive down to the lake you just realize how big all the elements are (lake, volcanoes, waterfalls). You truly feel overwhelmed by nature.

However pleasure does not last as you realize to what extent the place has been corrupted by tourism: pollution, drugs and the uniformity of hotels, restaurants and other gringo things have transformed this gorgeous place into a non Guatemalan land. Moreover, the lake has been hit hard by pollution as housing pressure and the lack (or even absence) of recycling facilities have transformed clear waters into a murky lake.
And now this article from Time that shows the ecosystem of the lake is dying, even explaining that people should not use the water because it can endanger their health. Consequently, all these pollutions have created the perfect combination for the development of a blue-green algae that has invaded the lake. For all of this, Lake Atitlan has been declared the "Threatened Lake of the Year 2009" by the Global Nature Fund.

I know that unfortunately this ecological catastrophe is one among too many, but this one makes me really sad. I went there and enjoyed it despite all the negative elements. It seems impossible that we let one natural wonders of our planet disappear without doing anything. I have been doing some research on the Internet to find a NGO I could donate to, but without success yet. if you know anything about it, please leave a comment. I am convinced that this place deserves a lot more than just being a memory and another example of human destruction.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Green Credibility is like Credibility:Easy to Lose

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 29:  A traveler walk...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I recently read that Responsible Travel, an authoritative green travelling website, changed its minds on carbon offset and decided not to offer it as product any more and condemn the use of it. As it is quite controversial to offset flights, I can understand their new position. The only thing that worries me is to what extent it can dent the credibility of green advocates.

I mean if you have been defending and offering something for seven years and suddenly you change your mind, how people are going to take it next time you suggest something?I am not saying it is wrong, it just appears to me that as really no one has an idea on how to efficiently tackle climate change, we should be more cautious on what we put forward. I just fear that if something like this happen again, nobody would not listen any more. And you can feel this if you look at the tweets about it.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Commitments in Action

I wrote recently about how it is important to commit ourselves to make things happen. Here is the example of Jake Harriman, the group's founder and CEO of Nuru International, a new NGO. Think whatever you want, but someone like him is an example that deserves our dearest respect, so let's imitate him.

The End (Jake's Story) from Nuru International on Vimeo.

And from what you can see on Twitter, seems that he got the attention of people. Wish him good luck!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Changing Ourselves Before Changing the World

I just left the UK for a few days and I realized how defiant you can become when you live in a big city: when a stranger starts talking to you you will for sure adopt a defensive attitude. This will be a problem when you are in a place where people are just curious about you and are ready to give you tips about the place you are. To sum it up, you miss opportunities.

So how is that linked to ecotourism, travelling and any green issue? Well, defiance has become the strongest obstacle to overcome these problems. Because we are sceptical of our politicians (OK for good reasons), other countries policies and to some extent ourselves, we can only achieve the smallest things for the environment. Cynicism is king and I wish I could commit a regicide. But this is not a great state of mind: cynicism is widespread because this is the only thing we can use to hide our despair and disappointment. So maybe it is time to transform this into anger, which will be the fuel alimenting the machine of change.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Greenwashing is Greenwashing, Wherever It Comes from!

EDF EnergyImage via Wikipedia

I already wrote about the case of EDF and Team Green Britain. Of course it is an example of Greenwashing and I think that the fact that the "Advertising Standards Authority of the UK received 149 complaints that the ads misleadingly implied EDF Energy is a green energy company and a British organisation" shows that people did not buy it.

The only thing that annoys me in this affair is that people seem to be more motivated by the fact it is a French company than by the actual greenwashing element of their campaign. I feel it is just wrong because in this case the nationality is not the problem, this is the misleading character of the ad. Would it better if it was BP? Honestly, rebranding the company Beyond Petroleum and put more green colours on their website will not change the fact they are an oil company that still makes more than 90% of its business selling fossil fuel. This is probaly the most achieved example of greenwashing, but I guess as they are British it is all right

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fighting Climate Change is not for Machos!

I wrote a post last week about the 350.org manifestations all around the world "On 24 October, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environment, organizing over 5200 events around the world." I was really happy to write a post about it as I found the initiative very thrilling. But today I am disappointed by the following video.

The first time I watched it it put a smile on my face, but then I thought: "Wait a minute mate, you are the first one to criticize car companies when they use beautiful women to sell cars, and this is exactly the same!" And then other things came up:
  1. Half of the world population is made of women and this video is targeted to men only.
  2. Male values are the ones responsible of the climate change problem, greed being the main one. All developing studies shows that if you want to bring development to a country, you need to empower women, so the same logic could apply to environmental issues.
  3. There is something quite sad that we have to use women wearing underwear to raise awareness about such a big issue.
  4. This sexist video is a disgrace to all the women that have contributed to the event (which is even worse as you may have more women involved in NGOs than men).
So to the people that created this video, next time you want to create something that has to reach as many people as possible, do not forget half of your target!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

To Offset or not to Offset??

Let's be completely honest: the concept of carbon offset has always been borderline. The idea you can offset your carbon dioxide emissions by giving money to projects of tree plantations or that encourage carbon dioxide emissions could have been nice if it stayed limited to what it was conceived for: trip you cannot avoid to do. Here is an example of a business that offers carbon offset solutions.

However, it quickly became an excuse for not changing anything. I guess this is what ResponsibleTravel felt and this is why they decided to change their policy and forsake carbon offset.

So what else should we do? Should we stick to carbon offset or should we get rid of the idea? Well we could just bypass the people making profit out of it but keep the positive side of it. Every year millions of people give money to charities for Cancer or any other respectable cause, so why not giving for the environment? Why not giving to projects that will make a difference, somewhere in the world, would it be in another continent or in your own neighbourhood? But in the same expecting nothing in return, just giving as a pure act of generosity. And if we associate this with genuine efforts to tackle climate change, this would transform carbon offset to a bad memory.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fight Climate Change

There is a time to stomach things and another one for fight. And let's be honest, regarding climate change, we have not time left for anything else than a fight. A long, difficult one, but not something impossible to achieve. I would like to introduce you to two initiative that can make a difference.

The first one is called "The Wave" and aims to gather people in London for the Copenhagen summit on December 5th in order to organize a demonstration to push political leaders to take actions on the issue. People are invited to upload a picture on which they raise their hands in order to put an image on their hands saying "Climate change is in our hands!". This will raise awareness on the issue of climate change and reach more people through the use of social media.

The second one is a much broader initiative called 350 that has for objective to "build a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis". Their focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. They plan to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. Here is a video on that explains in 4,000 languages what their goals are.

So it seems that now you have the opportunity to do something for a good cause and to join thousands of people all around the world to do so!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

A Panda Helps You to Measure Your Carbon Footprint

WWF LogoImage by ponChiang via Flickr

Well to adopt a greener way of life you need to assess what is positive and negative in all your actions, so measuring your carbon footprint is for sure the easiest way to get a clear picture of the situation.

WWF helps you to measure your own carbon footprint with a handy and easy to use tool. This is not only convenient, this is above all a way to wake up people by showing them the impact of their actions.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Be an Uber Ecotourist: Share Your Tips with Others

Ecotourism has grown a lot because an active community has used the internet to share information and knowledge about places and transportation. So the more collaborative tool the better.

The new one in town is Everlater, a tool that lets you create a true travel journal, with maps, notes and pictures. But the best thing about it is that it aggregates all your social media tools (e.g Facebook, Twitter or Flickr) in one place, which makes it a lot easier for you and the people following you to communicate.

I was wondering how I could communicate on my next trip idea, a tour de France, but I stopped wondering when I discovered Everlater. So if you plan a big trip in the coming months and then you want to show the green side of it, here is your tool.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

More Green Resources

I recently stumbled upon a few websites I found useful and I would like to share this with you:
  • More Ecotourism websites you have ever dreamt of: here is a list of 50 Green Ecotourism Travel Blog Sites.
  • As ecotourism is a lot about seasonality, here is a website that tells you where to go depending on the time of the year: Joobili . Even if the website does not seem to be especially green oriented, the answers provided are environmentally friendly.
  • Local, local, local: ecotourism is a lot about that, and a website like Local Dirt that lets you "find, buy and sell local" deserves to be considered as a green website!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Go Green with Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I really like Twitter as it is a formidable communication tool that enables people to find valuable information quite quickly and to interact with people having the same interests. I found a few ressources to find green news with Twitter, hope it can be helpful:

Let me know if you have any other source.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chernobyl: From Nuclear Accident to Ecotourism?

Chernobyl nuclear reactor after the disaster. ...Image via Wikipedia

I found the info through different blogs but I could not believe it: sine 2004, the UN is encouraging tourism in the disaster area of Chernobyl. I heard that it was possible to visit the inhabited tows and the nuclear site, but what I find quite weird is the fact that the UN promotes it as ecotourism. Of course the disaster area has become a sort of wildlife sanctuary colonized by many species such as wolves, but I truly feel it does not sound like ecotourism.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Ecotourism Travel Website: Ethical Travel Portal

I recently came across a new responsible travel website called the Ethical Travel Portal. Here is how they described themselves:"Ethical Travel Portal aims to educate travelers on responsible tourism. We have adopted principles for responsible tourism. We work solely with partners who thoroughly practice responsible tourism.

Responsible tourism is about creating better places for people to live in and to visit. Ethical Travel Portal is about educating people in responsible tourism on the grassroots level. We want to spread the knowledge about how responsible tourism can be implemented in any company by learning from local experts. Our logo, the three clover leaves, symbolizes the triple bottom line: economy, social and environmental responsibility. The guidelines for responsible tourism were chartered in Cape Town in 2002 and followed up in Kerala in 2008". In case you want to have more information on what they do, have a look below at their Twitter account.

I quite like the website that is really easy to use, but it is still to basic according to what you can do at the moment. Hopefully, as the project was launched last year we can hope that some improvements are on the pipeline. Good luck!!

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