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Ban tourism to slow down climate change?

You’ve no doubt heard that Venice is flooding due to climate change. Now we know that it’s also being flooded by tourists. As a result, the locals are leaving as the tourists ruin the city with too many people.

A similar thing is happening in other tourist cities of the world. Santorini, the Forbidden City, Florence and so on an on. Tourism is rapidly showing up as a global blight.

There’s a word for it: “overtourism”. There’s even an index of overtourism to show you the worst cities; note that Venice is one of the better ones. Many cities, including Venice, are starting to regulate tourist activities, such as the number of cruise ships allowed. Without doubt this is going to increase.

Tourism requires transportation. It’s well known that transportation contributes disproportionately to carbon emissions. Planes leave a disproportionate amount of emissions from jet engines. Ships contribute disproportionately through their use of high-Sulphur fuel, which is a contributor to high pollution levels.

As airlines reduce prices, especially with the rise of the cut-price airlines, more and more people are traveling. The same goes for cruise ships and buses. Touring is the ultimate aspirational activity for most people so the cultural and psychic imperative to travel is huge. That isn’t going way any time soon.

Tourism is growing fast. We can compare it to human tsunamis. The first wave was the ugly Americans in the 50s and 60s. Now the Chinese have joined the tourism deluge in a second wave.

That aspirational motive was what has been driving the increase in Chinese tourism, the largest such rise in travel the world has even seen. Chinese tourism is going to continue to increase for many years, even if there is a short-term drop in its economic activity because of a possible Ch9ina slowdown. So, the increase in travel and tourism is only going to increase.

Following the emergence of this major driver of tourism, we can expect that India will undergo a similar explosive rise. So th8e next mega wave of tourism will be from India and its 1.4 billion Indians.

Obviously, tourism is a major impact on climate change. I doubt that anyone is going to ban it, or even regulate it significantly given its outside impact on just about every local economy in the world. So, it looks like tourism is going to be an even bigger contributor to climate change.

Seems to me that we’re coming up hard against a major choice. What do we choose, the massive despoliation of hundreds of cities and historical sites, or an even greater increase in climate change?

Experience suggests we’re going to choose the despoliation route; I can’t see the great unwashed of tourists deciding to give up their aspirations to visit such and such an ancient city in favor of keeping the climate a bit cooler than otherwise; and that would in any case not impact them but their children and succeeding generations.

And I’ve only talked about 3 tsunamis of tourists. What about ones that will come later such as Africans, Central Asians, Americans, and Chinese on their second go-around?

And what about religious tourism such as the Haj to Mecca, not to mention other holy sites. Can that be banned? Are pilgrims going to give up their holy travels to save the climate? Do religious faiths even admit of climate change, let alone dictate that the faithful give up the Haj to save the greater ecological good the of the world?

Can we persuade todays tourists and pilgrims to not go touring and on pilgrimages and instead use virtual and augmented reality? Seems like a stretch. Can we fob off the masses with another activity that will keep them at home, videogames say? Seems unlikely too.

What about the Davos crowd? Would they be willing to forgo their annual pilgrimage to the South of France in order to keep the climate from changing any further? Come to think of it would they also be willing to give up their second house in the country to keep transportation emissions down. Hmmm.

It seems to me that we are rapidly coming between a rock and a hard place. Alternatives don’t seem to be plenty, if at all.

What is a socially responsible person to do? Give up their annual vacation to Europe, or bask in the warm glow of their own display of social responsibility?

Ask your pals if they will give up that forthcoming cruise to Venice and see for yourself.






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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

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