For a moment zoom out of the vivid reality of your daily life. Imagine you are looking down at planet Earth surrounded by the emptiness and darkness of space. This tiny capsule of life contains not only everything you love and care about most, but also the very ingredients you need to survive. As we go about our day-to-day business, however, we are too often preoccupied and fail to really take in the wonder of it all.
In a culture normalizes and rewards ever-increasing consumerism and consumption, we seem to live for present gain. Everywhere there are signs of this comfortable lifestyle; solo commuters in fuel-guzzling vehicles, garbage cans brimming with disposable coffee cups and food packing, and drive-throughs at every stop. Other examples of our disregard for the environmental consequences of our actions include, large-scale factory farming, fracking, and dependency on fossil fuels. But can we really afford to stay so conveniently oblivious and continue to take Earth and its resources for granted?
As Canadians we live in an affluent country that abounds with natural resources, wildlife, and majestic landscapes. Can you remember going fishing, kayaking, or canoeing in one of Canada’s many beautiful freshwater lakes? Do you enjoy hiking through a rustling forests or escaping to the ski hills in the winter months? These things that we so value and enjoy may no longer be there for ourselves or future generations as the grim reality of climate change descends. With the onset of climate change and the pending environmental crisis, our future on Earth is uncertain and bleak. Still, we remain conveniently passive and barely acknowledge the reality that the window of opportunity to preserve our future on this planet is quickly slipping away. We are doing everything we can, right?
What is your dream tourist destination? What kinds of things are important to you when planning your holiday abroad?
I recent trip from a bitterly cold Toronto to a balmy Orlando, Florida really got me thinking…what are the impacts of tourism and travel on the environment and on communities living in tourist destinations? Known as the theme-park capital of the world, Orlando is visited by millions of tourists from around the world each year. What I was surprised to learn, however, is that the city’s largest employers, Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld are committed to sustainable travel and actively encourage eco-friendly practices, including “green” certified hotels, recycling, energy-efficient innovations, waste-reduction, and animal conservation.
With the dramatic economic and environmental changes that have occurred in the last decade, the need for sustainable tourism is greater than ever. Our world is unraveling as climate change, environmental pollution, and the collapse of biodiversity threaten the very foundation of life on which we depend…It’s time for a change. But how can we minimize the negative consequences of travel while at the same time maximizing the positive?
How about becoming an eco-tourist or just a more environmentally conscientious traveller? Here are some excellent resources to help you learn more about sustainable tourism:
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in the centre of the Alps? To wake up to the sun’s glowing light illuminating the mountain tops? Silence. Without the noise of traffic or the sounds of bustling city life. To feel connected to the rhythms of nature? Get a glimpse of mountain life. Enjoy these pictures from my sojourn to the tiny, landlocked country of Liechtenstein, nestled between Austria and Switzerland in the heart of Europe.
Trekking through the steep terrain of the winding village roads and mountain passages of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, I felt lost in another world… an idyllic place where people live in close communion with each other and nature. It’s a simpler world away from the crowded concrete streets and anonymous city life. Visualize yourself surrounded by green alpine meadows interlaced with the snow-capped majestic peaks of the Swiss Alps. Breathe the fresh mountain air…… As you zigzag through the sharply slopping streets of Vaduz, you see cows and goats grazing peacefully on mountain herbs and grasses The mountain slopes are dotted with quaint, rustic mountain chalets and many locals raise livestock and tend to vegetable gardens. As you climb higher the slopes become foggy and you begin to hear the soft trickling of mountain streams.
There’s truly something pure and natural about this alpine landscape that stretches your mind and energizes your soul.