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let your imagination fly. It will introduce
to some unusual travel experiences. It doesn't
best hotels or restaurants,
but it will lay out the territory where you
be able to find one interesting adventure
up with some of the finest travel
on the planet and others like yourself.
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a little. Then go.
CONFERENCE IN PARIS, 12/12/2015 ... A WORKABLE AGREEMENT
Not this ....
took an extra day to agree to agree, but on December 12 at the COP 21 Global Climate Conference in Paris, 195 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.
CLIMATE CHANGE IS AN OPPORTUNITY
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. 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
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. Battery problems have delayed
their flight until April. See: http://www.solarimpulse.com/leg-8-from-Nagoya-to-Hawaii)
TURNING THE BATTLESHIP: IT TAKES AWHILE
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.
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. And see Elon Musk's vision of the future: http://www.techinsider.io/elon-musk-owning-a-car-in-20-years-like-owning-a-horse-2015-11
THE REAL VALUE
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.
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.
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.
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
AND CLIMATE CHANGE
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 beaches 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
ON SOFT CORALS OF ROCK
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 water 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.
View of the
Napo River from Yachana Lodge in Ecuador.
For ANIMAL ADVENTURES, click Link above