Global Climate Change and Travel

Dec 19, 2012 No Comments by

ou’re traveling, and one of the very first questions you’re going to ask is “how’s the weather there?”

And the answer to the question is “not as stable as it used to be.”

Scientists assure us that global warming is real, and we can see it more and more frequently as extreme weather sweeps around the globe, whether it’s in the form of more frequent, more violent hurricanes or eerily calmer winters. The news is filled with accounts of heat stroke deaths following heat waves, drowning deaths in floods and tsunamis, and mosquito-borne infectious disease outbreaks following tropical storms and cyclones.

What global climate change means for travelers is, more than ever, that they need to be more aware of the forecast and the climate trends for where they’re headed. Particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as people (perhaps older) who are susceptible to extreme heat, it’s important to be aware of climate conditions in your destination.

But that’s only part of the story. The other important aspect of travel, health and climate change is the impact that your travel is having on climate change, and consequently on the health of the people indigenous to your destination. Put very simply, airplanes damage the environment, releasing gases and particulates into the air that contribute to pollution. The rapid increased in air travel in recent years has led to an increase in overall pollution, despite heightened awareness of the need to be green.

And so, in a very real (but slow) way, travel is having a negative impact on people’s health.

That does not mean that you should cancel your plans, stay home to plant trees and start composting. It does mean that you might want to consider the impact of your travel has on the environment. And if you do, there is information available that will help you lessen your negative impact on the environment.

Ways to travel more responsibly include:

  • Contributing to the local economy by using local services, patronize locally-owned restaurants and service providers.
  • Consider the environment when traveling; just because you’re out of the country doesn’t mean that you should take a holiday from recycling and using water and electricity wisely.
  • Think about how often you fly, as well as the route you take; try to avoid short hops.
  • Consider making your trips “climate neutral.” One way to do that is by making a contribution to environmental causes that will offset your carbon travel footprint. Check out the Rough Guides’ “carbon calculator,” which will let you know how much you should donate to offset the damage caused by your airline flight.
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