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Published on Friday, August 20, 2010

What About Another BIG Greenwashed Tax on Tourism?


Outraged at German tax announcement IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani speaks at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Berlin, June 7, 2010. Reuters/Thomas Peter
It"s starting to form a pattern - despite calls to get rid of the tax because it makes developing country destinations plights even worse - the UK has hardened and adapted APD and Germany has started its own. See Carbon Market News:
Air Passenger Duty is now getting a little meretricious cloak of green credibility - the British say that it will be fairer because it"s levied per aircraft movement and the Germans say that it will, in time be replaced by the EU-ETS (the European Emissions Cap and Trade system).
Whatever. It"s a billion Euros/Pounds a pop at its initial level and it will certainly depress outbound travel, although in the UK at least it will benefit those operating with high load factors.
And it will legislate against low cost Caribbean, Asian and African tourism, particularly when they really don"t need it and at a time when they are petrified about the horrible effects that global warming will have on their tourism industries anyway.
OK, Germany and the UK aren"t the only outbound markets are they? And a couple of billions a year taken out of global tourism is hardly a big hit.
True, but it"s the first couple of billion and you can bet your bottom dollar (yuan, yen, pound or Euro) that many more countries will follow to shore up their treasuries with another transparent green excuse.
Moreover you can be sure that the individual country"s APD levels won"t stay as they are. Once a tax is established and levied there is only one way to go and that is up.
Plus, what a good wheeze! Outbound tourism could so easily become a whipping boy (or girl) of world governments. At a time of global recession and with a green excuse ready to cloud the issue, it could become a great way of raising money AND moral outrage. What"s wrong with staying at home or visiting your neighbors, after all?
How many industry thinkers have looked at the UK "voluntary" - sorry mandatory -Carbon Registration Scheme in that light. Big energy users will be paying for excess carbon emissions by 2013 at a rate yet to be decided but around £15 a tonne of CO2 emitted.
Big energy users? Think hotels and transportation companies.
Said the Labour government: "The UK is leading the way in tackling climate change and in the move to a low carbon economy. Large organisations have huge potential to achieve cost-effective energy efficiency savings. There are clear benefits from positive, immediate action to tackle climate change." Translation: "We will make you pay through the teeth for your energy use because we need the money"
But of course there is now a new business-friendly government in the UK and they will revisit that legislation. If they do, you can be sure that they"ll review and revise, in other words flip a better green spin on it and increase its benefits - to the exchequer.
Sad but true -the hungry world"s governments are watching - just like the Germans watched the UK APD saga - and they"ll adopt the carbon tax schemes until they go viral.
The lesson of the story is - energy use (AKA carbon emissions) will cost REAL MONEY and whatever it costs impoverished destinations, source market governments will spin their greenwashing lies to cover up their real motive - they"re broke and they need the cash.
Simple as that.
There was a time when the British and the Germans imposed their own taxes and customs dues directly on local populations for travel in China and other subjugated countries. Bet they wish they could do it now.
Valere Tjolle
Valere Tjolle is editor of the Sustainable Tourism Report Suite, special offer at:


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  • Who's whinging? And about what?

    And I take the train whenever I can (although sadly Beeching closed my local station half a century ago)

    By Richard English, Friday, August 20, 2010

  • Stop whinging

    Accept change or die. There is no point in wasting your breath and energy on complaining. Take the train.

    By Gary Phillips, Friday, August 20, 2010

  • Wikipedia has the story... Plus a transcript of the Horizon story is here - It seems from the evidence given that global dimming has been caused primarily by atmospheric pollution and the reduction of such pollution over the past few decades has reduced its effect. If this is true, then the effect of global warming might be greater than originally predicted since the dimming effect has to a degree masked it. Incidentally, water vapour, be it in contrails or any other source, is the most significant greenhouse gas by far and, although estimates vary widely, the most conservative put its contribution to global warming at around double that of carbon dioxide and the most extreme at around nine times that of carbon dioxide. And of course, there is nothing much anyone can do to reduce water vapour in the atmosphere and, even if it were possible, it could be a rather bad thing since water vapour is the source of that useful commodity, rain.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, August 3, 2010

  • global dimming

    The engineer regarding global dimming findings in Israel is named Gerry Stanhill. So far I have not found his reports but have discovered, in my searching, that BBC Horizon did a report and included GT's case along with other cases. The report contains info on the reflective effects of aircraft vapour-trails on reflecting sunlight back into space. I heard of this after the Sept/11 ban on airtravel in USA when a sudden and massive drop (1%) in temperature in USA occurred. It means pollution in the air off-sets some of the warming effects of greenhouse gases. It also means scientifically (not practically) that cleaning our air faster than we reduce our carbon emissions makes global warming happen faster. Countries should reduce emissions and set aircleaning targets based on emission reduction. Even now I think we will press India and China to hit green targets that ignore the dangers of achieving reductions in the wrong order or with incorrect priorities. I think the dimming would not even have been acknowledged but for the fact that it points to an even bigger build-up of greenhouse gases (and therefore warming) than was thought, and so now fits the global warming horror story. Scientists did not look at warning signs with an open mind because they were contrary and as a result of this period of denial, lost time and did not know they should be advising governments not to introduce "Clean Air" Acts of Parliament quickly and rigourously and emission reduction slowly but to change the priority. The latter is more difficult I understand, but our best brains in the world are there to tackle difficult issues and problems, and when failures come about because of "closed minds" it is unacceptable. Eric

    By Eric Foster, Monday, August 2, 2010

  • It would be very useful, Eric...

    ...if you were able to get a few more references to these data. Then we would be able to assess and evaluate them. But as you write, "...Eventually this engineer's findings have proven to be true in Israel, Southern Germany, USA and Asia to mention some locations. However the explanation is still not and probably never will be well publicised..." I believe this to be a example of "Mokita" - a word that originated in the Kivila language of the Trobriand Islands and which means "A truth we all know but agree not to talk about". So far as I have been able to tell, no other language has this, very useful, word, which I first saw in a discourse about the suggested genetic basis for intelligence. There are, I believe, many examples of Mokita - but the fact that we agree not to talk about them means, by definition, that they remain relatively under-bated.

    By Richard English, Monday, August 2, 2010

  • Global warming Greenwash or hogwash?

    A decade ago I came across Global dimming. A British engineer worked in Israel to plan it's irrigation, some years after 1948. He had records of the surface temperatures of Israel in a thorough and systematic fashion. Well into his retirement the "Global Warming" phenomenon aroused his interest. On his own money he took a number of surface temperature readings in Israel, on a limited scale but using the same locations and measuring techniques. He consistently found a remarkable drop in surface temperatures.I am led to believe that air temperatures are used currently to measure warming whereas the engineer concerned was measuring ground temperatures. Anyway the science world picked holes in his findings and his information was not taken seriously. I hope Jonah Clawson and or Richard English will comment on whether there was an anomaly here that ought to have been investigated. Was it rubbished because it did not fit the mood of the moment regarding global warming? Are we not all under a kind of pressure to not express thoughts that are counter to global warming for fear of being made a pariah? Should the scientific world embrace contrary and awkward findings and use their endeavours to reconcile and understand awkward facts. Eventually this engineer's findings have proven to be true in Israel, Southern Germany, USA and Asia to mention some locations. However the explanation is still not and probably never will be well publicised. It would be great if someone had a comment to make on this and even better if Richard English and Jonah Clawson were to. Eric Foster

    By Eric Foster, Friday, July 30, 2010

  • comment re Richard English and Jonah Clawson

    Jonah, I found value in your views even though they are intertwined with prejudice and incredible self satisfaction with your own "education".Have you never heard the expression'if you know you don't need to show'? Richard English you gave sound and logical info which was worth-while, but you could not resist rising to Jonah's bait,and traded insults a bit yourself. Hoda Lacey gets my vote. So do the two of you! If Jonah was not so prejudiced and Richard not irritated by Jonah, the blog would have been boring and I would not have followed your contributions,thereby missing a gem. Eric

    By Eric Foster, Friday, July 30, 2010

  • Frankly it is just not worth the bother argue with such a bigoted, ignorant and rather rude man. You have refuted none of my contentions; you have argued with them - a very different thing. And, quite frankly, some of your most recent statements would be funny were it not for the fact that you apparently believe them. Insofar as sources are co concerned, in spite of your contention that you have given "...multiple sources..." you have not - you have given one or two and have droppped a few names. I have not bothered to quote the sources of my contentions and, for you to suggest that I don't educate myself is not only rude but very ignorant. I am probably as well-educated about worldly matters as anyone you're likely to meet - but I don't harp on about how well-read I am, as do you. But you, you make stupid and unsupportable facts about there being no technological fixes to a plethora of ills - regardless of the fact that history shows us that most of history's problems have been solved by science and technology - and if it is not to do so in future - then what is the solution? Oh yes, I remember, have a go at big business and tax it out of existence, that's the way to solve "...overpopulation, overconsumption, global warming, US colonialism, corporate colonialism, species extinctions, habitat reductions, topsoil erosion, desertification, increasing water shortages and the resultant poverty, starvation, and disease that is spreading rampantly all throughout the world...." No doubt you can find legitimate sources to support that suggestion. Your oft-repeated suggestion that I should educate myself and learn that "...there is a major difference between water running direct off a mountain, as my city enjoys (but may not for much longer due to climate change), or otherwise purified by nature, and artificially treated water...." is interesting. Perhaps you would care to tell me just what that "major" difference is (and find some legitimate source to support your contention). You also suggest that I should educate myself to the "fact" that "...conversion to non-petroleum energy sources requires petroleum, and that there isn't enough petroleum to convert to the extent required to harness the large-scale desalination, rainwater harvesting, purification processes, and transportation of the water..." Well, of course, you're an American and maybe haven't heard of alternative sources of energy than oil. To start with, many times more solar energy strikes the Earth every day than humankind consumes; properly harvested, sunlight would take care of all humankind's energy needs for the foreseeable future - and it will be the technology of big business that does the job on a commercial scale. I have, incidentally, never suggested that "...dominator-style decision-making..." is the way forward; as I wrote previously (but you probably only read the parts of my posting that you wanted to read) that centralised control, especially as exemplified by the Communist model, tends not to work. And nowhere have I ever suggested that local production is a bad idea. Indeed, had your initial rant against big been properly constructed and focussed on your suggestion that more local production would be advantageous, rather than simply lambasting businesses, then you would have found my attitude to be rather different. I am a great supporter of local production: my wines and beers and as much of my food as possible comes from Sussex vineyards, brewers and farmers. Most of my hot water comes from solar panels and my electricity comes from solar-voltaic panels. Oh, and I collect all my rainwater and use it for irrigation of my garden. Local production is a grand idea - but that does not mean that those businesses that work globally are automatically evil, which has been your contention.

    By Richard English, Saturday, July 24, 2010

  • You won't because you can't

    I have refuted every conclusion you've made, and I've given you multiple sources to back up my doing so. I have not cherry-picked them -- they are among the leading authorities, recognized as such by those in the world community who take the time to educate themselves. You won't show us one legitimate source to back up any of your statements because you don't have any. You clearly don't even know who any of the people or institutions are who I referred you to, and you are obviously so intellectually incurious that you don't even bother to find out. You had no clue who Maude Barlow is and never read a word from her until the UK Guardian article was stuck in your face. You don't educate yourself and you are proud of that fact, and that's why you are such a laughingstock. If you were to bother to educate yourself at all, you would understand that conversion to non-petroleum energy sources requires petroleum, and that there isn't enough petroleum to convert to the extent required to harness the large-scale desalination, rainwater harvesting, purification processes, and transportation of the water, or any other of the other global-scale systems needed to continue the bogus "free' market business as usual that you trumpet. You would understand that this salient limit is why the water wars are just now heating up. If you were to bother to educate yourself, you would know that there is a major difference between water running direct off a mountain, as my city enjoys (but may not for much longer due to climate change), or otherwise purified by nature, and artificially treated water. You would know that there is much more to the body's needs from water than just H20. If you were to take a moment to study just a smidgen of environmental science and political history, you would know that there is no techno fix to overpopulation, overconsumption, global warming, US colonialism, corporate colonialism, species extinctions, habitat reductions, topsoil erosion, desertification, increasing water shortages and the resultant poverty, starvation, and disease that is spreading rampantly all throughout the world. Show us one legitimate source who states otherwise. The only possible way out is ending dominator-style decision-making and commerce, and the relocalization of all economy. But what are the chances of the human race waking up and making these changes voluntarily in order to avoid major die-off? What are the chances that we haven't already reached the tipping point? Don't look good. Especially when so much determined squeezing of the eyes against reality, as you so proudly display, reigns supreme.

    By Jonah Clawson, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • I could

    ...refer to plenty of sources. Finding sources to support one's own view is very easy. It is also very boring for the readers and generally pointless. The fact that I don't trot them out does not mean I haven't taken the trouble to study them. Your own style of debate - to ignore that which you cannot refute, twist what you can and drag red herrings across the trail if neither of the first two work is not my way of debating - and I will not be dragged into it. For example, you write, "...No, there is not sufficient rainwater. Nor is there sufficient energy or resources (all petroleum dependent) to implement your scheme, which explains the lack of will..." Where have I ever suggested there is sufficient rainwater? Where have I ever suggested that petroleum resources are sufficient for the job (or even needed)? Where did I propose a specific scheme? You will find these suggestions nowhere - although no doubt you'll find something else with which you disagree and will pounce on that and manipulate my words to try to prove your own point - as you do when you drag in the question of top soil loss, desertification and species loss - none of which potential problems I have even touched upon and which are a quite separate issues. And as to where you get the idea that common sense is borne of knowledge, I give up. Here's a definition of common sense (from an American dictionary to avoid the potential problem of your denying it as its some rotten UK publication): Noun. Sound judgement not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgement. Fact. There is no shortage of water on the Earth. Fact. The natural distribution system for water is now inadequate. Fact. It will be humankind's technical solutions that solve the problem. Or do you have some other ideas?

    By Richard English, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • Your sources, please

    You can't refer to one single source to back up your beliefs. And because of your complete lack of desire to inform yourself, you are contradicting yourself. The plethora of sources I provided are the leading authorities on the topic. Tell us some reliable authorities who disagree with them. No, there is not sufficient rainwater. Nor is there sufficient energy or resources (all petroleum dependent) to implement your scheme, which explains the lack of will. In addition, your scheme will do nothing to stop the spreading loss of top soil, desertification, and species loss due to drought. Common sense is born of knowledge, knowledge which you adamantly refuse to obtain.

    By Jonah Clawson, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • As you say

    ...only a minute amount of water has ever left or arrived on the Earth over all of its history and that amount can be completely disregarded. Of the water on the Earth Ninety-eight percent of the water on the planet is in the oceans, and of the 2 percent that is fresh, all but 0.4 percent locked up in the polar ice caps and glaciers. Natural processes allow for recycling of fresh water but, as I have already agreed, there are times and places where this is insufficient. I never said anywhere that there is sufficent rainwater to harvest to meet humankind's needs and neither did I comment about the use of fossil fuels to purify and transport water. I said that the technology already exists and could be put in place if Governments have the will to do so. At the moment there is no such will in many Governments which is why there are water shortages in many parts of the world. Water could be supplied universally - as could electrity and other services - if the will exists. As as for your implication that water purified by proper scientific methods is necessarily less good than "...naturally purified and filtered water..." - this is laughable. Most "natural" water is contaminated in one way or another (which is why we have water treatment plants rather than drinking directly from rivers and springs). Commercial purification can produce water than is as near 100% pure as makes no difference. How do you think the likes of astronauts get on? Do you believe that they lower a bucket into a cloud to harvest water? Unlike you, I do not round up a plethora of sources in order to select some that support my theories; I use a different method. It's called common sense.

    By Richard English, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • Back It Up

    If you have absolutely no idea what persons and/or institutions are the leading authorities on specific subjects and issues, don't bother to look them up or try to learn from them when references about provided to about them, and when you say things completely out of your ass as if you know what you're talking about, when you have absolutely no knowledge, experience, or research to back you up, that is willful ignorance. Actually, a slight amount of water does enter and leave the planet throughout time. But that has never been the point. Who are your legitimate source to back up your belief that there is sufficient rainwater to harvest, and sufficient resources to make such harvesting possible, sufficient petroleum shelf for the energy required, or that it's even in anyway possible or feasible, to desalinate and otherwise filter and transport all the contaminated water needed for the world's growing population to survive, and that the quality and benefit of doing so is just as good as naturally purified and filtered water? What do the WHO and other leading authorities have to say about such a claim?

    By Jonah Clawson, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • I agree.

    Willful ignorance is a terrible thing. It's rather a pity you show so much of it.

    By Richard English, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • Willful ignorance

    Lack of information is one thing. Willful ignorance is quite another. I rest my case.

    By Jonah Clawson, Friday, July 23, 2010

  • What sources...

    ...are needed to support my statement about water? The fact that only the most minute amount of water has ever left this earth is a fact that should be obvious to the meanest intelligence. The water we drink today is from the same oceans of water that lapped against Noah's Ark; the same water that the dinasours drank and the same water that was created when the Earth was formed. Water is constantly recycled, not used up - and if you can't understand this basic fact then there's no point in discussing the matter of water shortages. Of course, if you believe the God created heaven and earth in 6 days, then there's no point in discussing anything at all with you.

    By Richard English, Thursday, July 22, 2010

  • Your Sources?

    Please tell us the sources from which you derive your statements. Which scientists, researchers, activists, specialists? Have you taken any time to reference any of the multiple sources that you have been given in this forum from which to learn? Which one(s), specifically, and what have you learned from them?

    By Jonah Clawson, Thursday, July 22, 2010

  • I see nothing

    In the Graudaid article that contradicts anything I have said. I have never said that there are not water shortages; I have never said that the present reliance on the natural processes of evaporation and rainfall are adequate to meet local demand for water. All I have said is that the world is not running out of water (as it is running out of fossil fuels). What is lacking is a proper infrastructure to distribute potable water adequately and that is an issue that is becoming urgent. Once all Governments give the same kind of priority to water distribution that the better ones give to the distribution of other resources, then the problem will be on the way to being solved. As I wrote, and I will summarise what I said in one sentence: There is no global shortage of water; there are local shortages and these entirely are due to lack of proper infrastructure.

    By Richard English, Thursday, July 22, 2010

  • In Today's Register-Guard

    By Jonah Clawson, Thursday, July 22, 2010

  • Everybody wins

    I"ve been following the emotive debate between Richard English and Jonah Clawson. I feel it is important to acknowledge the opportunity given by Travelmole for such debates to take place. I sometimes skipped the comments section at the bottom of the page. I don"t now! And I really hope others will be encouraged to read and contribute. Many of us who attend the various travel conferences are frustrated that just when a debate gets interesting, and we feel comfortable enough to put our hands up, time is called. But how else could it be? We don"t have unlimited time nor budget to spend on the luxury of debate. Ultimately, a debate is about two points of view expressed from different standpoints. If we spent time analyzing the similarities rather than the differences, a whole new perspective would emerge. And the debate would become a catalyst for an exchange of ideas and progress that would benefit everyone in the long run, rather than the "I got the better of you" mentality. I am left thinking "Good on you, Jonah Clawson, for contributing and presenting us with a valid point of view. And thank you to Richard, for taking the time to think these issues through and to respond so eloquently. Who wins and who loses? Does it matter? Isn"t it about raising awareness and making us think through our decisions more carefully? I salute Richard, Mr Jonah Clawson and Travelmole for enabling this powerful debate. Right: so who is going to start the next one? Hoda Lacey

    By Hoda Lacey, Tuesday, June 29, 2010

  • I'm pleased to note that you have realised ...

    ...that there are other points of view than your own. Take a further look at some of them and you might become somewhat less deluded. And please do not twist my words to suit your own myopic and single minded view. Nowhere have I ever written or even implied that non-subsidized, small, locally owned business equate to communism and socialism or that non-local, taxpayer subsidized, colonial monopolistic transnational corporations equate to the free market. That is your own biased interpretation of what I have said and is, I fear, typical of your responses; take my comments and twist my words to suit your own prejudices whilst ignoring any comments that you are unable to refute.

    By Richard English, Sunday, June 27, 2010

  • My Bad!

    I realize my error: I should not be paying attention to Lester Brown, Vandana Shiva, Amory Lovins, David Morris, Herman Daly, the World Health Organization, David Korten, Maude Barlow, the world's leading Earth scientists, Dr M. King Hubbert, George Monbiot, Paul Hawken, and scores of other similarly deluded fools -- I should be paying attention to the deep knowledge and wisdom of Mr. Richard English instead! Non-subsidized, small, locally owned business = communism and socialism. Non-local, taxpayer subsidized, colonial monopolistic transnational corporations = free market. I am so thankful to have been finally set straight!

    By Jonah Clawson, Saturday, June 26, 2010

  • Another red herring swimming in this water

    Over 90% of water is contaminated and had been since the oceans were formed. And of what remains most is frozen. The natural cycle that turns contaminated water into fresh water has served relatively well for centuries but, even before industrialisation, there were local water shortgages (which is why most settlements were founded on rivers). Now the increase in population means that the natural processes are becoming inadequate and need to be supplemented by artificial refinement - just as humankind refines so many other of its supplies. All that is needed to deal with local water shortages is the will to set up purification and distribution systems. This will happen and it will almost certainly be private enterprise that does it. Regardless of your anti-business rant, private enterprise has been the engine that has driven most of humankind's advances. That it is imperfect doesn't mean that it is 100% wrong. Of course, other systems have been tried and most have failed. The Marxist idea of a centrally controlled, command economy is still in place in North Korea, as you could see for yourself if your Government allowed you to go there.

    By Richard English, Friday, June 25, 2010

  • Lots of dirty water

    If you include contaminated, salinated, and non-drinkable water, sure, there's plenty of water globally. While people in many countries such as Ethiopia are forced to drink contaminated water, as desertification, aquifer draining and global warming continue to increase, about 1/3 of the world's populace doesn't enjoy the luxury that people in wet UK have of collecting and harvesting rainwater. As I've noted multiple times, for these and other reasons, the aquifers are not getting replenished at the rates that they are being drained. You don't have life as it's been known and efficiently run countries where top soil has disappeared, the earth is scorched, plant and animal species have died off, and deserts are fast encroaching. Imperial colonialism followed by corporate colonialism has destroyed the complex interchange between humans and natural resources in bioregions throughout the world, causing people to have no idea when or if they are exceeding their means. Businesses and governments in locales throughout the world are constantly scheming to increase their populations, with their biggest fears that women aren't producing enough babies to meet their fiscal goals. Thus, overpopulation is hugely subsidized. There is no free market. It's all highly subsidized and regulated to benefit the very few super-wealthy who control the corporations that corrupt the governments. Do you think that the planet has been getting raped and the rich have been getting richer and the poor poorer within a vacuum?

    By Jonah Clawson, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

  • It would make for better dabate

    ...if you were to take me to task for what I write, rather than what you believe I wrote. In my last I wrote, "...I said, and I maintain, that there is no shortage of water; that is not the same as there being no local water shortages...." That is the truth of the matter - there are local water shortages but no global shortgage of water. What do you think happens to the water we use after it goes down the plughole? Do you imagine it disappears into outer space? No, almost all of it goes, by divers means, into the oceans, the repository of well over 90% of all the Earth's water. And from those oceans it is evaporated to form clouds, which is turn form rain, which rain fills the aquifers, reservoirs and other places of storage, ready to be used again. The problem with the system is that the rain does not necessarily fall where and when it is needed and, when local demand exceeds local supply as determined by rainfall and storage, then infrastructure change is needed. In the south of England most of our water comes from underground sources; in the north most of it comes from surface reservoirs. Most people neither know nor care where it somes from but efficiency of the British water supply system is such that we have no water shortages, even in those areas where we have little rain (and there are some in the UK). If aquifers and mountain runoff (not to mention glacier melt) become insufficient for local needs then infrastructure change is needed - and in efficiently run countries will happen. I will not even give your facile comments about overpopulation being a product of the economic system more than a cursory mention. If this were truly the case, then countries with well-developed economies would have the greatest population growth and those with poor economies would have the lowest. There is, of course, no such correspondence. Such things as housing starts are consequent on the increase in need for housing, not the cause of it. Of course, new developments of all kinds will attract more people to them - but the additional people available are a product of breeding, not Government action. Breeding is, of course, as you suggest in your response about ethical matters, is also a matter of personal choice. I have never tried to suggest that the free market is perfect - it has many faults - but it would be equally wrong to suggest that it is always wrong.

    By Richard English, Monday, June 21, 2010

  • Still Misinformed

    The notion that there are no water shortages, again, flies completely in the face of what is common knowledge among Earth scientists and people on the ground, regardless of how the notion is spun. The shortages are not caused by poor infrastructure, but by draining aquifers and reduced mountain runoffs due to increased global tempratures. Overpopulation is spurred by all industries that are dependent upon a growth-based economic system falsely using new housing starts, more new jobs, and greater consumption of resources as indicators of economic health, in tandem with a global economy. When people within their respective bioregions are faced clearly with the limits of their natural resources, the feedback loops are there to naturally keep their populations, consumption and technologies within the local carrying capacity and thus live within their means. Tourism, along with every other industry, plays a role in overpopulation and overconsumption when it joins with the rubric of growth, as the industry does across the board. Poised as a solution to poverty and stagnancy, the ongoing dependence that it creates upon external infusions of capital and markets (i.e. more people and consumption) only exacerbates the problems, and the vicious cycle continues until collapse. The economic destabilization that has occurred during the past two years is a result of a system severely out of step with local ecosystems. Businesses cannot run ethically if they take more from the regions and communities where they operate than they give back. Sustainability is about the ability to continue indefinitely into the future. Taking more than is given back disallows such continuance. Where money and the very expensive "free" market is allow to rule, which is virtually everywhere where there are tourism operations, it's the businesses with the most amount of money that control the governments that are supposed to regulate them. A growing number of businesses are opting to transition into becoming Beneficial Corporations, where the bylaws require them to benefit all stakeholders that they affect, not just shareholders or managers. More info on this model can be found at Needless to say, doing no harm ultimately requires personal choice.

    By Jonah Clawson, Sunday, June 20, 2010

  • I will answer...

    Now that Jonah Clawson has had the good sense and good manners to tell us who he is, I will reply to him. Obviously my comments about his youth were inacurate - but they were based on the non-de-computer he appeared to use - if he didn't adopt it, then he needs to check with TravelMole as to how it appeared. I am not going to write a massive diatribe since this would be boring and pointless; it is possible to use statistics to prove anything, and a mass of statistics that will prove the opposite of what he suggests would be easy enought to find. I will, however, give lie to some of his assumptions. He writes: "...No water shortages, he says? Right! And no global warming, no peak oil and natural gas, and no massive species extinctions. No human overpopulation, and no overconsumption. Science is just opinion and belief, no different than religion. There was no Holocaust. The world was created in six days, and it's only 4,000 years old. And Santa Claus is real..." I said, and I maintain, that there is no shortage of water; that is not the same as there being no local water shortages. The shortages are caused by poor infrastructure, which poor infrastructure is usually the fault of governments. I made none of the other claims he suggests I made. Clearly any finite resource will run out eventually and fossil fuels are a finite resource. Whether the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is contributing to global warming is less certain - indeed, the whole issue of global warming is still open to debate, as those who attended the recent ITT conference will know. Clearly some of the other things he mentions - overpopulation being just one - are true and a major issue. But overpopulation is created by overbreeding - not by tourist organisations or even governments. If blame can be pointed, it should be pointed at religions, some of which exhort their adherants to breed in a completely unrestricted manner - some even claiming that birth control is "against the will of god". And, although it has nothing to do with the matter, I am not a believer in divine creation and all that it implies (unlike a significant number of Mr Clawson's compatriots); I am a humanist and believe that all deities and all religions have been created by humankind. God didn't creat man; man created god. I am a firm believer in the scientific method, not in myth, mystique and mumbo jumbo. And I will simply restate my belief about the matter; it is the business of companies to run their businesses, in an ethical manner; it is the job of governments to run their countries in similar fashion. Do not lambast organisations for their failure to do governments' job.

    By Richard English, Friday, June 18, 2010

  • Pardon the typos

    That's 2.8 million hectares of land that China has obtained use of in the Congo.

    By Jonah Clawson, Friday, June 18, 2010

  • Addressing More Misconceptions

    First of all, to address Mr. English's latest comments, I am not a student, at least in the formal sense, and my name is not Student from USA. Someone, either in the TravelMole organization or a hacker, changed my profile to that name. Now you see my real name. Hope this satisfies, somehow. Although I am 54 years old, not so young as Mr. English imagines, I do nevertheless consider myself a student of all that life has to offer and intend to remain so for as long as I am blessed to remain on this Earth. I am however, from the USA, a reality that Mr. English would like to use to direct judgments against me. While such judgmentalism is immature, pointless, and a desperate act of attacking the messenger rather than the message. I realize that most residents of the USA are, in fact, bereft of open media. But that is due to their own lack of curiosity and exploration of all the news and facts that are readily available to them through the Internet and numerous other non-corporate informational sources. Fortunately, I have not ever let myself ever become so limited, nor do all USA students, as Mr. English has apparently allows himself to become, unfortunately, judging strictly by his uninformed comments, not by his country of residence or supposition of age. With respect to Mr. English's previous comments on my statements, I must say that he has apparently buried his head so far into the sand of his belief system that he is unwilling to read and see with his own eyes what is happening on this planet. No water shortages, he says? Right! And no global warming, no peak oil and natural gas, and no massive species extinctions. No human overpopulation, and no overconsumption. Science is just opinion and belief, no different than religion. There was no Holocaust. The world was created in six days, and it's only 4,000 years old. And Santa Claus is real. It's so nice and convenient to blind one's eyes with denial and fantasy, along with sprinklings of ad hominen! Unfortunately for denial and fantasy, however, aquifer measurements don't lie. Neither do receding glaciers, eroding topsoil, increasing desertification, and growing food insecurities. And that's despite the farce that was "Climategate." It would be instructive to see Mr. English's sources, because his statement surely does not jibe with all the hard facts that the UN and Earth scientists have been reporting and what is commonly known among farmers, local officials, and residents where the water shortages are happening. If there is so much water to go around, then why are so many travel host countries dependent on World Food Programme imports? Why are Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Kuwait, Libya, India, Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, Australia, Russia, Brazil, Kazahstan, Myanmar, and Mozambique buying up land and water rights in other countries around the world, many of which are mass tourism destinations, and sending in their own workers to grow their food? China alone has bought rights to 2.8 hectares of land in the Congo, a country that is already on life-support from the WFP because of the above problems. Tanzania and Zambia have been drying up, and wildebeests and other game are disappearing again in places at alarming rates. Who in the US doesn't know that the Ogallala Aquifer isn't being depleted, and that Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California are drying up? Forty percent of the world's wheat comes from dry eastern Oregon, USA -- the wheat fields there wholly dependent on the damming and draining of the Columbia and Snake rivers, which has caused depletion of those rivers' salmon runs, which used to abound in the millions each year, but which now trickle in by the low thousands, if lucky. As for corporate responsibility, gee, isn't that what all the Responsible Travel certification programs are supposed to be all about? Why does the exploitation continue despite them? Well, one can blame governments as Mr. English does, but then when governments try to crack down, these client companies of Mr. English cry, "Too much regulation™ And from Mr. English's perspective down there in the darkness of the sand, it is hard to see any corruption, blind-eye turnings, and sweetheart dealings going on between government regulators and companies doing business in the host countries. The excuse Mr. English makes for irresponsible foreign exploitation is that it brings enough money into the host countries to help them out of poverty and the dole. If anything is a simplistic solution to complex problems, this Milton Friedman-isque chestnut wins the prize. If foreign investment were all that was needed, there wouldn't be any need for the travel industry to change, in the ways that it is universally recognized it needs to. Where all the tourism money goes, the actual conditions of tourism workers and their communities, and whether the host countries have become tourism-dependent rather than self-reliant on their own diversified, agricultural-based economies, are what constitute the proof of whether tourism dollars have been benefiting them or not. It's all-to-easy for a foreign tourism operator to set up a tax write-off charity and give some handouts to the locals, with PR photos snapped of the smiling children in their new school uniforms. But what about the operators truly giving back by helping to become self-reliant those communities who have been enriching them? Like it or not, the human species averting its coming cliff-jump requires personal responsibility. And that personal responsibility involves moving beyond ideologies, accepting facts, and acting appropriately. A few good places for Mr. English to start to learn more about how dire the environmental situation is, and what all needs to be done to get us out of it, are Lester Brown's Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization; Maude Barlow's Blue Gold; David Korten's The Great Turning; Post Carbon Institute (; Institute for Local Self-Reliance (; and Mary Honey's Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: who owns paradise?

    By Jonah Clawson, Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • Interesting

    I see that "none none" has suddenly become "Student from USA". Well, at least we can now make some judgements about this contributor - assuming the the title truly represents the person. A student - therefore probably young and one who still possesses the certainties of youth and who furthermore believes in simplistic solutions to complex problems. From the USA and therefore disadvantaged by that country's rather poor and generally parochial media. Now, can you see how useful it is to know a bit more about the person who's posting?

    By Richard English, Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • Cupboard outing

    You already know my views; those who wish to air their opinions should have the courage to say who they are and thus allow their readers to judge their authority to make their points. Printed media have refused anonymous contributions for years - although most will, if asked, maintain a correspondent's incognito - providing that the correspondent has supplied his or her name and address to the journal. Acceptance of completely anonymous contributions could lay a publication open to action for libel without any chance of recourse or reciprocal action against the contributor concerned. Those who seek to keep their identities secret can often, I suggest, have similar motives to the MPs who recently strove (without success, I am pleased to say) to keep the details of their financial shenanigans from the eyes of the world. That is to say, the advantages of anonymity are to themselves alone.

    By Richard English, Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • Tosh??

    I never put my real name up on the Internet for many personal reasons, not because I'm ashamed or embarrassed about my views. It's interesting that you call my statements "tosh," but don't even bother to state why. If you don't understand why non-local tour operators have any social responsibility to local host countries and regions, then you certainly have no comprehension of responsible tourism. Tour operators opportunistically swoop down on host countries, mine them for all they can get, and leave the places impoverished and locals disempowered. Jamaica, Dominica and Tanzania are just three examples that quickly come to mind. Or they get trashed, parceled, suburbanized, Disneyfied, and drained of scarcer water, with more and more McMansions, resorts and "ecolodges" getting built on pristine coasts, islands, and rainforests, and more roads and highways built to accommodate the onslaught of oblivious, self-centered vacationers and second-homers, such as in Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, and in other spot locales in the southern hemisphere. Toss in a few solar panels and a dash of patronizing charity, and the job is done. Helping locals and communities to own and operate accommodations in such locales here and there is certainly better than forcing them (via corporate-compliant and profit-skimming government elites) to succumb to the parasitic ventures of non-local luxury resort owners. Nevertheless, with the advent of peak oil and an ever-more unstable global economic system that's based on unsustainable exploitation of limited resources, encouraging and actively putting in infrastructure to make local communities dependent on tourism is cruel. Prior to Euro-centric conquest and colonialism, local cultures throughout the continents were able to get by happily on their own. They had interdependent, co-evolutionary relationships with their local resources, naturally keeping their populations and consumption in check with the local carrying capacities. Colonialism tore apart these interdependent relationships, and in most recent decades, particularly, the fabric of local self-reliance has been torn. The influx of capital from tourism, when it has been directed to indigenous peoples and not funneled to the elites and non-locals, could have been serving as a stop-gap measure to aid locals in becoming self-reliant once again. But instead, the capital is being spent on creating more tourism infrastructure. Because a growing tourism industry is a non-sustainable prospect, and because of peak oil, global warming, draining aquifers, and drying mountaintops, the fact is that tourism will decline in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and other exotic locales, and when locals are depending on more tourism in such a situation, they will find themselves in even more deep, serious trouble than they are now. Tourism needs to be more localized, and the economies of host countries where tourism is the major industry need to become more diversified and less tourism-dependent. This will only happen when tourism money coming in now is invested in relocalizing production, manufacturing, trade, and business ownership, as opposed to prodding them to keep trying to compete in the toppling global economy.

    By Student from USA, Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • Be Careful What You Call Greenwash!

    "it will certainly depress outbound travel." -- That's what it should do! "And it will legislate against low cost Caribbean, Asian and African tourism, particularly when they really don"t need it and at a time when they are petrified about the horrible effects that global warming will have on their tourism industries anyway." -- No location should be tourism dependent. If all the so-called responsible tourism organizations and operators were to actually act responsibly, they would have been helping local economies to become locally self-reliant, so that they can survive and thrive on their own. This means growing their own food, not for export, and having their own local manufacturing and local distribution systems. As in Haiti, the people are crying to stop being exploited and to have their own economies for themselves. Tourism should not be a major source of revenue for any country. Especially when we know that peak oil will depress all travel in the long run. What travel industry exists needs to be geared towards regional vacationing, not hopping all over the globe. There can be no sustainability so long as corporate colonialism, regardless of the guise, continues to suck resources away from the Earth and local communities. Corporate colonialism is the greenwash, not true cost accounting of CO2s.

    By Student from USA, Thursday, June 17, 2010

  • I am not

    ...going to debate in massive detail with an anonymous correspondent any more than I would answer an anonymous letter. If you don't have sufficient power of your convictions to tell people who you are, then why should I take any notice of them? But I will just say that your rant is full of the usual rubbish about evil companies exploiting all those poor innocents, who can do nothing about it. It is the role of companies to run their businesses; it is the role of governments to run their countries. Most businesses do a fine and ethical job (please don't bother telling me that there are some that don't - I know that). The jobs they create and the money that they put into local economies should help those economies to thrive. That it does not always do so is not the fault of the businesses but the fault of the governments involved which, on the whole, do a far worst job of running their countries than companies do of running their businesses. Kindly direct your ire to the corrupt and inefficient governments and officials, both national and local, who take their responsibilities far less seriously than do most businesses. Oh, and just to try, once more, to lay to rest the old canard you raise about water shortage; there is no water shortage. There is as much water on the earth now as there ever was (indeed, slightly more than was the case when Noah was around, since burning a gallon of oil produces around a gallon of water - and we are burning lots of oil). There is no general shortage of water; what there is, in some places, is a deficiency in distribution of water - an easily soluble problem for governments with the will to solve it (let's face it, private industry manages to solve that problem).

    By Richard English, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

  • Come Out of the Cupboard!

    "What do YOU think about anonymous contributions? We've had a great deal of comment about people making statements without revealing their names. We'd like to know what YOU think. In the meantime we will only run one anonymous comment, after that, you've got to reveal your true identity. So tell us what YOU think about anonymity! NOW" Valere Tjolle Editor Vision on Sustainable Tourism

    By valere tjolle, Wednesday, June 16, 2010

  • It's interesting but maybe not surprising

    ...that contributors like "None None" seek to maintain their incognito when posting this kind of nonsense. I, too, have strong opinions on travel, tourism and the use of fossil fuels - but unlike "None None" I am prepared to stand by them and argue for them using my own name. And my opinion about his or her comments is that they are a largely a load of old tosh, " is the responsibility of tousrism organisations to help local economies to become locally self-reliant...". When did this duty become part of the remit of a tour operator? Please, spare us this kind of sanctimonious twaddle from anonymous contributors.

    By Richard English, Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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