Monday, January 21, 2008

Tourism at the end of the world

Does eco-tourism help or hurt efforts to combat climate change? The argument is that a sufficiently large subset of eco-tourists become activists, that results in a net reduction of emissions, or an enhanced ability to adapt. A story in Tierrramerica points out that eco-tourism is the fastest growing segment of the $7 trillion tourist industry, with almost triple the growth rate.

Ecotourism operators often put much sincere effort into reducing their impacts. But one has to wonder whether it's worth all those emissions and disrupted ecosystems, if the biggest result is that some preening affluents can brag about having seen the last penguin.

Photo by Australian Government, Department of Environment and Heritage.

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