Archive for March 7th, 2021

Down With Tourism

March 7, 2021

I don’t do tourism… But I have LIVED, and grown up, on four continents… I have never targeted a place to tour. Right, I have visited places to make giant, somewhat foolhardy, trail or mountain runs, in the wilderness, and visited ranges to climb. But then I was not “touring”, I was running, or climbing, living on, in and off the land, which I had got to know and learn, be it only to survive… It’s good to run across real light, carrying no water, yet knowing the next valley would have a torrent in which to cool and drink. And knowing weather patterns enough to negotiate thunderstorms, torrid heat, paralyzing cold, and bug clouds impacting vision, let alone breathing and ski integrity… I was not just overlording the land mechanically, carrying my imperialism around, sheltered in a bus or helicopter with a tour guide telling me what to think, feel, and learn…

What is the idea of tourism? Let’s think about the concept itself, what it is supposed to depict, how it originated. Making a “tour” indicates that one goes around and inspect a number of locations. Like a military tour. This entails costs: land, ship or air travel, hotel, or short term rentals. This cost is borne not just by the places which are toured, and the servants making the activity possible, but also by the entire planet. Is that the best usage of finite resources? Flying a jumbo jet across an ocean causes enormous energy and pollution, equivalent to putting the same mass in orbit around the Earth. Putting a mass in orbit can serve the common good, say world communications (which reduce the need to tour). Something in orbit stays there for years, becoming ecologically efficient. How many times do tourists need to be put in orbit? (Figuratively speaking.) 

A further difficulty with tourism is the moods it fosters: instead of being conducive to the respect of the biosphere, tourism inculcates the mood of “client is king”. It is not the Natives nor the biosphere which are “kings”, but some invader, rich in money, but not consideration. Who needs kings? Why foster excess in how much a few individuals have to be served? 

Soon enough, coconut trees to be all over….

What we need to foster is respect for the planet and its biosphere. Visiting a place and living there for a while, learning what this place teaches, that’s fine. Just touring to make a mark, at great ecological and moral cost is the sort of abusive exploitative supercilious mood that should be discouraged.

There are better things for humanity to do, than to serve wealthy aliens fostering the mood that superficial vision, and authoritative pocketbooks, should be paramount. 

Humanity needs to encourage thinking, in depth, that is culture. Servitude should not be an ideal, instead the natives, wherever they are, should be encouraged to slow down tourism towards interactions giving more space to time and exchange. Hawaii should be encouraged to pursue research on how to make its economy renewable, energy independent (the ocean can help), and encourage more world-class astronomical research on Maui and the Big Island. After all, Polynesians got to Hawaii thanks to advanced technology, not by serving strangers.

***

“Got Your Back” wondered in the New York Times: “I’m sure there must be many reasons for Hawaii’s situation to be more fragile ecologically (such as it being the most isolated archipelago on earth) but I was surprised just now when I looked up another states stats. Massachusetts has almost the same landmass but hosts 2.5 – 3 times the number of tourists each year. I had assumed the numbers would be opposite since I’ve never heard about any negative tourism impact on Massachusetts. What am I missing?

PA’s answer: The ecology of Massachusetts is not special, it’s basically the same as the rest of the North-East USA, a continental, interconnected landmass. The ecology of Hawaii is very special, and full of ecological niches, from insulary isolation, various climes and altitudes. This requires leaving large expanses undeveloped. The smallest dirt road has large impacts on local species, especially birds. 

Also the question is dependency. For example Massachusetts has a massive cultural and intellectual economy, with MIT, Harvard, and a company like Moderna and its mRNA vaccine, saving the world. Whereas Hawaii has only “tourism”… But for world class astronomy: Maui detected the first extrasolar object going at an enormous speed through the solar system Oumuamua, thanks to the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakalā Observatory, Hawaii, on 19 October 2017. Optically speaking the top of the Big Island is half way to space. Instead of fostering astronomy, which guided Polynesians of old, some misled characters have been trying to block it. Block tourism instead.

Energy procurement in Hawaii is also a disaster, as it depends upon fossil fuel. Potential new energy sources exist. And first of all, Ocean Heat Pumps. 

In other words, Hawaii should develop much more science, it needs it more than Massachusetts, arguably. Moreover, most tourists in Massachusetts are short-stay, little impact. They don’t jet in. flying a day over land and ocean….

Patrice Ayme


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www.grrrgraphics.com

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