Exploring places where you can safely roam


This site is designed to
let your imagination fly. It will introduce you
to some unusual travel experiences. It doesn't suggest
the best hotels or restaurants,
but it will lay out the territory where you
might be able to find one interesting adventure
and link up with some of the finest travel
companies on the planet and others like yourself.
So dream a lot,
plan a little. Then go.

A Jaguar thinks it over.

*******Update 11/2015:  NOAA, the World Meteorological Organization, and other organizations have announced that the latest assessments of major global climate change gases reveal a startling rise of 1° C. See a summary with links at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/06/global-carbon-dioxide-levels-break-400ppm-milestone

In early December 2015 world leaders will gather in Paris at the COP21 meeting on climate change. (COP=Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC.)  Working from the belief that fossil fuels have changed earth’s climate significantly, this UN conference, like others in the last couple of decades, including Rio, Montreal, Kyoto, will try to arrive at a workable global template for countries to follow to reduce carbon emissions. (http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en)

Their stated goal: keep the earth’s temperature from rising 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) by 2030. 

Scientists agree that the earth has warmed significantly and very quickly several times in the past, but those times were before humans populated the planet. More alarmingly, the famous graphs of global temperature illustrate that this exponential rise – ours -- took off in 1859 (Industrial Revolution) and shows no sign of leveling off. CO2 levels are traceable to the vigorous production of industries that have allowed us to stay warm in winter, cool in summer, to get from A to B at 600 miles an hour, to eat exotic fruits shipped from half a world away, to see inside our bodies, and to light up the night. And that CO2, the byproduct of our lives, rises to the stratosphere and stops there, creating a stifling embrace of the earth.  Two more degrees, says the UN, and we begin a serious simmer. 

But why will this conference be any different?

For one thing, the reality supersedes the political rhetoric: climate change is in everybody's front yard.

           Questions linger -- Whatever happened to the new ice age?  Why did earth have periods of pre-human global warming? Nevertheless, the evidence is palpable: Storms are more violent; islands are eroding; species are changing; droughts are happening where they have not before, and, as in California, are more severe; temperatures are colder and hotter than usual. Plus, we have some bad habits: pollutants kill coral reefs; fracking poisons water; residue from cars, trucks, trains, buses, and power plants compromise the air we breathe.  Earth appears to be a dangerous place now, and earth is all we have. 

The problem at COP 21 is how to deal with the damage and stop it from getting worse.

Another reason why this conference will be different is that someone thought to ask people -- ordinary people -- what their own experience is with climate change. On June 6, 2015, the UNFCCC created an unprecedented gathering of 10,000 “ordinary citizens” in 76 countries who met in groups of 100 in their communities to spend an entire day giving their opinions about global climate change. ((http://climateandenergy.wwviews.org/)

Randomly selected to reflect demographic diversity in their communities (even those who could not read, who had the issues read to them), they spent the day watching UN videos on climate change effects (https://vimeo.com/126059978), discussing possible solutions, then voting on what suggestions to send to the conference in Paris. 
The UNFCCC  has encouraged "bottom-up initiatives" before, but was astonished by the passionate response of so many "ordinary and sacred" citizens speaking in one voice, and their remarkable agreement that globally reducing carbon emissions is imperative. (http://climateandenergy.wwviews.org/results/)


Finally, this conference can be different because for the first time, religious leaders are speaking out about what they perceive to be a shared crisis:

  •   Pope Francis issued an encyclical imploring everyone to limit the use of fossil fuels.
  •  Islamic leaders from 60 countries signed a declaration confirming their “moral obligation to protect the earth."
  •  Rabbis prompted Jews to shape reasonable ways for “shared sustainable abundance.”
  •  The Dalai Lama reminded followers that climate change is everyone's concern because of our “oneness of humanity.
We  know we can't reverse future events entirely, because it appears that we are in the middle of a perfect storm with cosmic cycles, some of them 10,000 years apart, on a collision course with the results of our own clever use of resources that got out of hand. But we can deal with the present reality and help design a paradigm shift to use technologies without chemical residues, like wind, water, solar; to come up with ingenious ways to make excess CO2 disappear; and to change our lifestyles by accepting the challenge to change.

 Learn farming the hard way.
Kansas, 1934. A natural drought combined with farmers' failure to let the soil
take a break and restore itself. The result: famine and an exodus to the West.
(Photo © NOAA)
 It's all interconnected.
A recent study found that clouds generally are getting lower, which will keep us cooler. Places
like the Sahara Desert are major players in climate. Winds generated from the
hot sands form tropical storms in the Caribbean; sands blow across the Atlantic Ocean
and dry the Amazon Rainforest. In this amazing satellite picture, Sahara sands are lifted
off Libya and carried across the Mediterranean into Greece and Turkey. (Photo©NASA)
NOAA's most recent (2015) graph on global temperature trends.
 Glacier National Park, Grinnell Glacier, June, 1936.      
Below: Same place, same glacier, July, 2010.
(Photo©Dan Fagre)

AMONG THE BEST REEFS in the world, Palau and the Great Barrier Reef
are both suffering from changes in the Pacific Ocean.
Surgeon fish on Flynn Reef, in the Great Barrier Reef. (Photo:wikicommons)

Twenty years ago, the buzzword was ecotourism: leave no footprints. That's evolved into encouraging travelers to visit places that are threatened by rapidly rising sea levels, severe drought, rainforests diminished by over-logging, or nearby overactive volcanoes.  Bringing dollars to weak economies by engaging in local hospitality enriches the area and helps travelers understand the specific problems.
Take Palau, for example, arguably the poster child for an island that is disappearing as sea levels rise. It is one of the most vital and vigorous tourist destinations around: the diving is spectacular, the AQUAIMAGES-STARFISH-SOFT-CORALS-ROCK-IS-PALAU-Formia_sp..jpgbeaches pristine. Managed by the Palau Conservation Society, it has a strict no-fishing policy, despite its 1,400 species of fish, because its 460-mile reef depends on fish to maintain its ecological balance. Tourist dollars contribute to Palauans' future homes, wherever they might be. Numerous companies run regular diving trips to and in Palau; some include land tours of World War II sites. For 10-days snorkeling on Rock Island, Palau, try the Oceanic Society http://www.oceanicsociety.org/expeditions/palau-snorkeling-the-rock-islands--63
The Great Barrier Reef is another case in point, with its delicate systems affected by sea surface temperature rise. Take a moment to listen to a TedX talk by marine biologist Fiona Merida  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8RgQz21UC8); or a stark explanation of dead reefs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgFS5f_MUMg). You can take any of numerous scuba or snorkeling ecotours, some guided by biologists. Try, for example, Reef Magic Cruises (http://www.reefmagiccruises.com) for certified and beginner divers, adults and children.
On land the environmental challenges are different for tourism. Local people who live in rainforests have created a subculture of hotel architects who design places to stay that are both comfortable for travelers and sources of significant employment and training for locals.
Solar-powered hot water and electricity, sustainable waste systems, safe drinking wYACHANA-LODGE.jpgater respect the environment and are maintained by local folk who train to be hotel managers, chefs specializing in local foods, and good guides to point out the wonders of their locale.
In Ecuador, for example, one way to experience the rainforest is to stay at a remote lodge resort for 4 or 5 days where you can experience all of the above and join bird-watching tours, nocturnal trips to see animals, river tube floats, take a cooking class, and learn how to make chocolate from locally grown beans. Try, for example, Yachana Lodge in a nature reserve above the Napo River. High comfort, culturally vital; 4 or 5 days, $1,200 to $1,500. See www.yachana.com
View of the Napo River from Yachana Lodge in Ecuador.

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