October 15, 2009

Will Climate Change Ruin Your Vacation?

Climate change could alter your travel plans in the not too distant future — including the face of world tourism destinations, how visitors get there, and who gets to go.

A new report by the British tourism industry and a sustainability think tank, Forum for the Future, warns the impact of climate change could degrade now-popular vacation hot spots.

Among the scenarios imagined is a type of “doomsday” see-it-while-you can rush to visit natural resources before they disappear; the high cost of a “green” travel and climate-related political instability in some destination countries may also threaten the industry.

Another study on the issue is just kicking off at Michigan State University, where a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation will be used to examine climate-change impacts on global industries such as tourism.

Yet destinations around the United States and the world may already be feeling the effects.

In Hawaii, warming oceans threaten both coral reefs and a $360 million tourism industry, according to an editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Off the Oregon coast, home to legendary beaches, researchers have been tracking an oxygen-starved dead zone in the Pacific Ocean the size of the state of New Jersey.

The dead zone may be expanding, permanent, and caused by a climatic forces rather than pollution, a National Science Foundation study found.

Three national parks in subtropical Florida, including the Everglades, are at risk of becoming the first U.S. national parks lost entirely to rising seas, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Across the globe, Mount Everest, the holy grail of mountaineering, has horse flies buzzing through its 17,585-foot base camp, and sherpas fearful of glacier-fed lakes bursting their banks and wiping out climbing trails, The Guardian reported.

The Maldives, a chain of low coral atolls in the Indian Ocean, plans on holding a government cabinet meeting under water, equipped with scuba gear and by whiteboards, to call attention to rising sea levels that threaten tourism, fishing and human habitation.

In Zimbabwe, droughts, flooding and disease may threaten wildlife, landscapes and tourism around the Zambezi River, including the world-renowned Victoria Falls, according to a report by a regional research organization.

However, the United Nations blamed “uncontrolled development,” unfettered competition with Zambia for tourists, and poor government stewardship for ecological degradation around the falls.

–Ronnie Lovler/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Climate Change to reshape tourism industry”
Businessgreen.com, October 13, 2009

“Tourism 2023 – creating a sustainable tourism industry”
Forum for the Future, October 8, 2009

“Himalayan sherpas bugged by the sight of house flies at 5,000m”
The Guardian, October 12, 2009

“MSU-led study to examine effect of climate change on global industry”
Michigan University News, October 12, 2009

“Global warming threat looms large over Hawaii”
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 17, 2009

“Zimbabwe: now is the time to act decisively on climate change”
The Herald (Zimbabwe; government sponsored), October 12, 2009

“Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls”
UNESCO World Heritage Program, 1988-2008

“Report: Climate change poses risks to Florida’s national parks”
South Florida Business Journal, October 1, 2009

“Oregon coast at risk”
SFgate.com, October 9, 2009

“SOS: Is Climate change suffocating our seas?”
National Science Foundation

“Maldives Cabinet all wet on climate change”
Agence France Presse, September 25, 2009

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