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 other explorers
like yourself.
So dream a lot,
plan a little. Then go.

A Jaguar thinks it over.

"The era of consumption without consequences is over." 
THE WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANZATION today issued its warning that carbon emissions for the year 2016 have reached a level that will preclude expecting to achieve a global temperature rise of any level lower than 2°C, barring a miracle. In the World Meteorological Gas Bulletin for 2016 http://public.wmo.int/en/resources/library/wmo-greenhouse-gas-bulletin-ghg-bulletin-no-12-state-of-greenhouse-gases, the WMO reports that carbon levels globally exceeded 400 parts per million ppm (or 400 carbon molecules for every one million molecules in the atmosphere) in what appears to be the entire year 2016, a level not recorded on earth by historical or prehistorical means since several million years ago.  This year's rise in levels is due in large part to the powerful El Niño that swept east across the Pacific bringing drought and reducing vegetation which absorbs CO2 naturally. Levels of methane and
nitrous oxide were elevated as well.
Being called "the new era of climate reality," climatologists are calling for a speeding up of committments pledged in the Paris Agreement in April [see below]. WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas reminded everyone in an interview with the BBC that CO2 remains in the atmosphere for 1,000 years, longer in the ocean. "The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide," said Taalas.
The 197 signers of the Paris Agreement are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco for COP22 on November 7 to 18, http://newsroom.unfccc.int/cop22marrakechinformationhub/2016-un-climate-change-conference-information-hub/
Eighty-one  signatories presented their voluntary national plans as agreed to strive to limit carbon emissions in their countries to an ideal 1.5° C,  thereby legally ratifying the original agreement. Allowed to set their own reasonable goals working within the demands of their countries' other needs, the signatories agreed to five-year check-ups, the next in 2020. In addition, global companies such as Exxon and Bank of America agreed to shift to carbon neutral.  Please see more on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
with latest updates, www.unfccc.int/2860.php
"The era of consumption without consequences is over." 
So said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon during the April 22, 2016 Climate Change Meeting at the United Nations in New York City. For the first time, an overwhelming majority of member states -- 197 (including North Korea) -- signed the climate agreement reached in Paris at the COP21 meeting in December 2015. Each country promised to submit its "instruments of ratification" designed to reduce carbon emissions to meet the COP21 goal of a global temperature rise of no more than 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) by 2020. See UN Messenger of Peace Leo DiCaprio's speech: http://bit.ly/1XPWVPw


Not this ....
beijingmaskswikicommons159338871_0.jpg .... This


 It took an extra day to agree to agree, but on December 12 at the COP 21 Global Climate Conference in Paris, 197 countries as diverse as you can get, agreed that we all have to commit to something
 soon, and one of most reasonable ways to start is to take advantage of what we already have: nature, particularly forests, since trees are one of the best absorbers of CO2, while we devise clever technologies to capture and store the stuff that is rendering cities literally unbreathable.

 Floods, droughts, violent storms, and rapid, random, and merciless changes in lifestyles suggest we might be more fragile than we knew. Working from the belief that fossil fuels have changed earth’s climate significantly, COP 21 specifically addressed the astonishing changes of the past 165 years without getting lost in scientific or political arguments over whether or not climate change exists. They also agreed that it is everyone's responsibility to engage in reducing carbon emissions and to create adaptive measures that work for all. http://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-the-final-paris-climate-deal



For wealthy countries like the United States, it was a question of placing funds in the right places at the right times. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that researching and developing new climate technologies is a rising tide that will float all boats, creating new jobs as well as a purposeful sense of participation.  Including businesses in the solution takes the burden off government and provides business smarts. At the conference were reps from business, including Bill Gates, whose Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a collection of billionaire entrepreneurs dedicated to creating clean end affordable energy. http://www.breakthroughenergycoalition.com/en/index.html.


Each of the 195 countries was coming from its own particular concerns. The Marshall Islands, the Philippines, and others in the Pacific who are most-at-risk with measurable and scary changes underway lobbied for more stringent changes to cap the temperature rise at 1.5o, rather than 2° Celsius. A group calling themselves the Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries was new this year: they are countries with significant GDPs like China, India, and Saudi Arabia but which are still dealing with establishing equitable economies at home. Even they committed to contributions for carbon reductions.

The big difference with this conference is that whatever commitment plans countries come up with, they are not legally binding. Every five years they will be responsible for accurate and honest reports on emissions reductions. Critics moan: It'll never work. But the thinking behind it is that without a litigious sword hanging over their heads, countries will feel freer to experiment in inventing new ways to reduce and capture carbon.

You Tube's choices for 10 Best Climate Change videos.

"Climate Change is an Opportunity" -- scroll through the videos for this one, especially.

Bertrand Piccard, co-developer with Andre Borschberg of Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered plane to cross the ocean, shares his vision. The Solar Impulse II successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean powered entirely by 17,000 photovoltaic cells spread across its 72-meter wingspan on 22 April, landing successfully in Mountain View, California. "The Pacific Ocean is done," Piccard said, before beginning the trip across the United States with Andre Borschberg. From New York City,  powered by stored solar energy that allows for 70 km/h (43 mph), Solar Impulse will fly over the Atlantic Ocean, across Europe to Cairo, and on to Abu Dhabi to complete the round-the-world trip begun on 9 March of last year.

25 July 2016: Solar Impulse lands in Abu Dhabi, proving that the sun can provide the energy to circle the world. ""The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now," said Bertrand Piccard. See: http://www.solarimpulse.com/



It is estimated that half the world's population relies on wood and biomass for its energy. Coal, for example, is a big bugaboo, but in some places, it's the most expedient source of energy --there's a lot of it in the ground, and the technology has become a tradition for several generations of coal miners. tim-kiser-Lumberport_West_Virginia.jpg

The trick is, clean coal technologies already exist; it's only money that prevents them from being put to use while better alternative non-fossil fuel based energy is being developed. (For the take on clean coal tech in the U.S., see http://energy.gov/fe/science-innovation/clean-coal-research)


Cars, anything with fuel-injection engines, are equally grounded in several generations' livelihood and comfort, despite foul air. But is everyone changing to a bike?   It's complicated. Google, Apple and others are devising amazing alternatives. Tesla's Elon Musk rides the ups and downs of producing a safe and affordable totally electric car. His recent Model 3, designed to be sleek and cost $35,000, has attracted several hundred thousand reservations, and has inspired Musk [and, separately, GMC] to envision self-driving vans for urban transport, currently top secret. Musk's Space X reusable rocket has successfully landed several times on a target on a ship in the ocean.  See: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-21/musk-s-secret-plan-to-curb-city-traffic-with-self-driving-bus





Doing our individual part to reduce our energy footprint (all those things we know so well -- walk, don't eat meat, put out lights you're not using, take navy showers, and share, share, share) has its own intrinsic value. Some will get rich devising ways to capture and store carbon. And the person who invents the battery of all batteries will be enshrined forever. But where the rubber meets the road, it is children where the value lies. They are most likely to suffer from asthma from polluted air, to be swept away in floods, to be denied schooling because they must collect firewood for fuel, to be caught in epidemics. Anything that can turn this around is worth a lot.

And it is not just for the kids in the future, it's for the ones around now.

In May, 2013, an F5 tornado swept through Moore, Oklahoma, a city of about 54,000 people in the middle of the afternoon, when kids were getting ready to go home. Parents and teachers knew the tornado drills, but this one was quick, violent, and weird: it drove a mile-wide path through the city, then turned around and went back, leveling the hospital, more then 1000 houses, and two schools. In the Plaza Towers Elementary School, a wall collapsed, killing seven children, sending the survivors into a collective state of shock. The funeral director said he was in a unique position above and beyond just burying the children. "We met with the mommies and daddies," he said, "and came up with not just a graveyard for children, but a memorial to honor those seven souls."  In several meetings with the parents who collectively remembered their children's likes and dislikes, the community captured the children's lost innocence by illustrating their lives in carvings on stone benches placed outside the rebuilt school. 

In a small town in Ethiopia last year, farmers were forced to change their several generations' style of farming, by switching to terraced gardens. It involved major changes in lifestyle. In a meeting to assess the new farming techniques, the town mayor concluded it was a success because "no children died."


The big thing about COP 21 this year was that it ended well, with participants using the word "joy," with a lot of personal energy to dive in and capture the culprit, and invite everyone else to join in.

Pictures, top left: Beijing in a recent air pollution crisis. (Photo: Wikicommons)

Top right: Forest (Photo©Andrey Kudrjashov/Wikicommons)

Middle right: Lumberport, West Virginia, where coal takes its toll.

Photo©Tim Kiser/Wikicommons)



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.


For ANIMAL ADVENTURES, click Link above   Cecil_the_lion_at_Hwange_National_Park.jpg