Monday, January 29, 2007

Irony free ethical bypass

The Guardian/Observer, which prides itself on "ethical holidays" (even to the extent of including those words in the URLS of its articles), published a feature yesterday on Ten wonders of the vanishing world... and how to get there. Destinations include the Belize Barrier Reef and the coral atolls of the Maldives:
Like a string of pearls, the Maldives - made up of hundreds of tiny islands - are many people's idea of the perfect tropical paradise: white-sand beaches, palm trees and a handful of tasteful, luxury resorts where wooden bungalows perch on stilts over the cobalt blue sea. But they are also poised on the brink of extinction...At a time of rising seas, melting ice caps and increasing storms, experts warn a large number of islands are likely to become submerged in the next two decades.
All yours...for seven nights from £1,380 ($2,740) per person, room only, including flights and transfers.

But it's OK: "Ripping up our passports and vowing never to fly again will not solve the problem of global warming" says Joanne O'Connor, one of the journalists.

Another cigarette? One more cannot not possibly make a difference, can it? After all, these are *ethical* cigarettes. And those children can make up their minds for themselves. Now run along and play...

[Note: a version of this post appears on as Holidays on death row]


Anonymous romunov said...

It sure wouldn't solve most of the problems, but it would help. Kind of like voting - your count doesn't change anything, but it counts (well, usually).

5:39 am  
Blogger Caspar Henderson said...

I don't agree that tourism necessarily helps solve the problems. If one really wants to help, say, the people of the Maldives and their coral it is better not to travel there as a luxury tourist but instead to send all the money one would have spent to a responsible, community-based conservation organisation. This would be more economically efficient and less environmentally damaging. But the point is really the aggregate demand -- an increased number of flights to see these distant destinations, locking in a cycle of higher carbon emissions.

9:08 am  
Anonymous romunov said...

I see a similar phenomenon in Egypt. Although I have never been there, the
Red Sea is a popular destination among divers and fellow reef aquarists.
They report that the beach and adjacent reef keep degrading along with
construction. Hotels (for tourism) destroy the reef with their sewage and
tourists take care of the beaches and perhaps what's left of the coral
reefs. Flights over there surely don't help the environment. To top
everything else, Hasan1 reports the overfishing of Holothuria scabra. I
have contacted him and he reports - about two year later, that he sees no
population recovery.

Hasan, M.H. 2005. Destruction of A Holothuria scabra population by
overfishing at Abu Rhamada Island in the Red Sea. EMarine environmental
research. 60. 489-511.

9:57 am  
Anonymous Mark Lynas said...

Amazing. This is more than denial - this is making tourism out of catastrophe, at the same time as making the whole problem worse with additional emissions. Never mind boiling frogs (which is an urban myth anyway) - are people lemmings?

10:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

caspar, how did you get to the philippines, walk?

3:42 pm  
Blogger Caspar Henderson said...

Well, anonymous, I did not float over there on clouds of self-righteousness. I took a plane. This was a working trip with a lot of time in dingy offices and no luxuries involved. It was not a holiday, and I thought my journey was "really necessary" (to cite a tag from world war two).

The emissions were offset, which (as explained on the blog) I do not think make flights "climate neutral", but are -- or have the potential to be -- better than doing nothing at all to account for emissions.

Please have a look at this piece and let us know what you think: "Crippled by the hypocrisy police" by Madeleine Bunting, 15 May 2006
(published in:

12:14 pm  

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