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On eco-tourism

2009/04/08

I am confused. I went to a seminar about natural resources and recreation management, much of which involved eco-tourism. One of the points the lecturer made was that immersion in nature was important to get people to care about the environment. Guilt doesn’t work; looking at images doesn’t really work; clearly scaring people just doesn’t work. Part of the issue is the lack of experience with the great outdoors – people are scared by what they don’t know. Another part is simply a lack of access – if you can’t get there, you can’t experience it. Which puts us kind of in a catch-22, doesn’t it?

If you don’t have access to a natural environment such as a park or river, you can’t get the immersive experience. If you can’t get the immersive experience, you’re less likely to value the environment. So there’s that. But then someone asked a question about whether tourism in Antarctica could ever be considered eco-tourism (spurred by Obama’s recent remarks). And that brings us to a bigger issue – if immersion in a particular environment is so detrimental to that environment that it shouldn’t be supported, how to you get people to care? I honestly have no idea. I don’t think anyone does. I guess we could go stand in a deep freeze with some pictures of penguins, but that just isn’t the same. “No child left inside” is a start, but until we resolve the whole access issue, we should also support community gardens and the reclamation of unused spaces (like the British guerrilla gardening). And, on an individual level, get a flower pot, some potting soil and a packet of seed and plant a little windowsill garden with your kids. Make a little personal green space. 

 

Part of my personal green space

Part of my personal green space

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