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Every trip is a compromise

25th March 2021 Print

While currently every trip may be a compromise to our health due to the global pandemic once things return back to normal traveling will still be a compromise for our planet. The global pandemic brought with it a lot of chaos, loss, stress and other negatives emotions and consequences but it did also have a couple of advantages. One being that people got more free time to invest in their health and wellbeing. Numerous people started running or attending online fitness classes. Some invested more time educating themselves and maybe learning a new skill that is an investment for the future. People also got more time to do things they enjoy like having a walk at the park, reading, watching series or spending time at NetBet Casino. Another major advantage is that the environment benefited from the lack of traveling; pollution and its consequences were significantly reduced.

With every trip to distant natural wonders, you contribute to their demise. But stopping traveling is not a solution either.

It was wonderful back then in Patagonia. Hiking in the deserted Tierra del Fuego, wondering in the rainforest on the island of Chiloé, waiting in the tent at the foot of Fitz Roy for the continuous rain to stop. Seldom has man experienced such great nature. And seldom has he destroyed to such extend.

Just the flight from Europe to Santiago de Chile, and another domestic hop to the north, because you absolutely had to see the Atacama desert with the salt lake affects the environment. Even many years later, there is a slight shudder at the numbers that the CO? calculator reveals: seven tons of carbon dioxide blown into the air, far more than the annual global per capita emissions. If everyone wanted to do that: oh dear. With every trip to natural wonders, you contribute to their demise. That doesn't work well in the long run.

And it doesn't stop with flying, even though it's probably the biggest problem. Boat trips are not much better: Although many positive things have happened in the cruise industry, almost all ships are still on the move with heavy fuel oil that contains high levels of sulfur. Many of them even without a sensible exhaust technology that could filter out some of the pollutants. Not to mention the garbage, which cannot be disposed of optimally in all ports.

Even those who travel on foot or by bike can cause harm. Careless hikers or cyclists disturb wild animals. And everyone has to sleep somewhere, eat, go to the toilet. From an environmental point of view, it would be easiest if you did everything at home, where it could be done most easily in an environmentally friendly and energy-saving manner, and then let go of traveling once and for all. But that's unrealistic, because as the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wisely recognized: The whole misery of people stems from the fact that they are unable to sit quietly in a room. So, you have to make compromises, every trip is a new one.

But because the vacation - already overloaded with expectations - is an unfavorable area for moral appeals, these compromises are often one-sided. In a survey carried out by the Research Association for Holidays and Travel for the Ministry of the Environment, a good every fourth German claimed to be interested in environmentally friendly travel. The travel behavior of these supposedly environmentally conscious vacationers hardly differed from that of the others, apart from the fact that they went on vacation a little more often - which was probably also due to the higher income in this group.

Of those who claimed that they care about sustainable travel, almost three quarters did not want to do without flying. And just one percent was willing to pay at least climate compensation for it. Certificates such as those offered by Atmosfair, for example, cannot undo the emissions, but the money is invested in climate protection, which is better than nothing.

Obviously, the simple rule of thumb also applies here: the wealthier the person, the more problematic his travels. According to the UN tourism organization, tourism accounts for five percent of global emissions, with an average of around a quarter of a ton of CO? on each trip. In Germany, however, every third holidaymaker affords a flight, in this country the value is likely to be much higher. A flight to Mallorca produces more than 500 kilograms of CO? per person. You can easily drive twenty times from Munich to Lake Garda in a fully occupied small car.

But even with travel nearby and with the best of efforts, tourists can still do a lot of damage, especially when crowded. Ski tourers, for example, like to look with slight contempt at the decadence of the hype on the slopes. But if the tens of millions of  skiers also wanted to go on a ski tour, there shouldn't be too many undisturbed retreats for wild animals. Since the mountains cannot be cordoned off, it might not be so bad to sacrifice a few areas to winter sports if the rest is spared.

Of course, this concept does not work if the ski areas plunge into an arms race of kilometers of slopes in the battle for a shrinking market until the last valley is flattened. But that doesn't change the fact that individualism is overrated. A great nature experience for the traveler is not automatically great for nature.

Especially not in the mountains. In the past 14 years, the number of members of the German Alpine Club has increased from 600,000 to more than a million. In 1994 the association included nature conservation as a goal in its statutes and declared the tourism development of the Alps to be over. Nevertheless, the routes are becoming increasingly safer, the huts more and more comfortable, warm showers and WiFi are almost standard. Mountaineering is a mass sport in summer and winter. It's nice that people go to the mountains. But do you have to turn the Alps into a comfortable adventure playground for adults?

Then still prefer honest mass tourism. A drinking and party tour in the bus to Lloret de Mar, for example, may not be the most sophisticated form of travel, but considering the damage it does to the environment, there isn't much to be said against it, with the exception of water consumption.

And yet all of this does not mean that it is better not to travel at all or just take the bus to a castle as close as possible. Quite apart from the fact that there are also other reasons for traveling, for example cultural exchange: what if people stopped traveling altogether?

Sure, the planet would be spared a lot of dirt, noise, garbage, water consumption and climate damage. But also, many national parks in Africa would have to close without the income from tourism or would be hopelessly exposed to poaching. Even in Germany, national parks and biosphere reserves would soon find themselves in need of justification if the tourists stayed away. People would emigrate completely from many more remote regions because there would no longer be any jobs; Villages would be abandoned; cultural landscapes would disappear. That is definitely not in the interests of environmental protection.

There is probably no form of travel that can be optimally implemented in every respect for seven billion people; and you can't prescribe anything anyway. Traveling is more like eating, it's all about the right mix. Flying should be a rare exception, nature deserves some respect, restraint is always good. And just because you can afford something, it is far from being a basic right. If you keep that in mind, a few trips should also be possible in the future. Maybe even for everyone in the world.

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