It is impossible to live pleasantly without living prudently and honourably and justly, and it is impossible to live prudently and honourably and justly without living pleasantly - Epicurus (341-270 BCE), Kyriai Doxai V
Declaration of Principles:
ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club is the original ecological tourism portal and professional social network, established in 1999 in Athens, with the aim of promoting the philosophy and practice of Ecological Tourism. Solidly grounded in the science of Ecology, aware of the urgency of Global Warming, and endorsing the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we call for a Tourism that meets the following criteria:
1. Respects Human Rights, Labour Rights and Animal Rights.
The current global environmental and socioeconomic crisis (aka Climate Change) may be unprecedented in its magnitude in terms of endangering life on this planet but, looking on the bright side, it is only the latest episode in the long series of human-made crises which have been eventually overcome. Such crises are inextricably linked to the historic evolution of humans and their competition for control and concentration of finite natural resources. Despite technological and medical progress, which has allowed the global population to expand greatly, globalised Capitalism, the dominant socioeconomic & geopolitical system, has reached its limits and is now undermining the future of humans and of many other life forms. The fin de siècle euphoria and peace dividend resulting from the end of the Cold War was short-lived. The general public now feels increasingly insecure with the rapid dismantling of the welfare state model, the erosion of employee rights, and the raised risk of redundancy and personal bankruptcy caused by a toxic mix of production automatisation, product dumping, disregard for human rights, extreme financialization (subprime mortgage crisis), never-ending regional wars, and heinous terror acts by radicalised religious extremists ultimately funded through our dependency on Fossil Fuels and government's infatuation with Growth. A growing number of citizens are now realising - if recent election results are an indication - that the prevailing global system does not serve their interests. Let us hope that people around the world democratically decide to replace the current international status quo with a progressive, civilised and environmentally sustainable system rather than follow ultra-nationalists, racists & fascists to a tragicomical and potentially far more lethal repetition of the 1930s. For humanity to survive let alone to progress further, we need, on the one hand, to constantly identify and oppose ecocidal, undemocratic and oppressive aspects and actors of the global system; on the other hand, we need to recognise and encourage emerging peaceful, progressive aspects, currents and movements wherever they may occur. Our gaze needs to be scientific and humanistic at the same time, to pay attention to detail but without missing the forest for the tree.
Over two centuries after the French Revolution, following two catastrophic world wars, a protracted cold war and amidst a global war against terror, most governments claim to be proponents or even defenders of Freedom, Equality, Justice and Social Solidarity. Yet, these lofty goals are still rarely present in the daily lives of the majority of the world's peoples... In fact, in the early 21st century basic human rights and freedoms are increasingly under threat in nearly all countries and continue to be non-existent in others. In the context of Travel, freedom of movement is largely limited to the movement of capital and of wealthy tourists, while immigrants (war, economic and climate refugees) perish while trying to cross deserts and choppy seas in search of a better future; a future that for most of them will sadly involve a menial job and constant harassment in the global north. Freedom of expression is constantly being curtailed or threatened by increasingly intrusive and authoritarian, big-brother, states and violent fanatics of all hues. Inequality between and within countries is growing, as is long-term unemployment. Universal access to quality, free health care and education is retreating worldwide. In the global north itself the middle class is being slowly crushed and many of its members suddenly become members of a precariat unable to find work, while in the global south extreme poverty and lack of sanitation and education remain key generators (as well as key forms) of violence leading people to death and/or the dead end of extremism. It need not be this way; the world can get better.
Ecological Tourism, and other responsible and sustainable tourism forms can, and already do, offer solutions even when all other resources are locally lacking and tourism, especially locally-owned tourism, constitutes a direct and effective wealth redistribution system. Tourism & Hospitality are among the few sectors that have a vested interest in safeguarding the world's last remaining natural areas from the unsustainable expansion of extractive industries such as Oil, Mining, Forestry and large-scale livestock and farming. Tourism is also a labour-intensive sector, with low barriers to entry, a relatively level playing field and low infrastructure requirements which make it a practical choice in impoverished but otherwise pristine and naturally attractive areas; even more so, the most benevolent and beneficial form of Tourism, Ecological Tourism, which results in a win-win situation.
Resistance to the forces of ecological destruction and social oppression and the implementation of reforms at the top are necessary but not sufficient conditions to bring about real progress: they must be supported and refined on a daily basis through the creation of viable and practical alternatives, including - especially in areas that have no other resources - ecological and equitable tourism alternatives, organised at and by the grassroots. The proliferation of such alternatives can, in turn, contribute to the emergence of genuinely free, classless communities where mutual aid prevails, and individuals thrive, as no one is exploiting or oppressing anyone else, while at the same time all the real needs of all people are covered. The proliferation of and voluntary cooperation between such equitable & free communities, and between their respective individual members could create a better and less violent world where the well-being and the individual & collective rights of all people and other animals are respected, or at least respected considerably more than they are today; a world where the French Revolution's "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" - we either fully have all three or we have none - may at last materialise.
Using the 20th century's important lessons of what does and does not work in the quest for happy, free and equitable societies, in the 21st century, we have to aim for a democracy (= rule by & for the people) which is as authentic, free and direct as possible. We must resist racism and fascism and support peaceful, voluntary, intelligent, rational and diverse paths to human progress combining ecology, freedom, mutual aid, economic democracy, social justice, solidarity, environmental sustainability and transparency. Tourism, and in particular Ecological Tourism, has a unique, pivotal and multifaceted role to play in creating quality, meaningful jobs, opening hearts and minds, in total mobility between and within nations and in contributing towards a fair, global re-distribution of wealth between and within countries without further destroying the planet.
We have no time to waste, yet this is an Ultramarathon. The full humanization of humanity (if it is ever to arrive - it could be that some cosmic or human-induced 'accident' puts an abrupt end or that this is/was as good as it gets) could take another 10,000 years (since the first settlements based on agrarian surpluses emerged) or even another 4 million years (since Australopithecus afarensis walked upright!) but we should remember (Lao-Tzu) that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" and (Cavafis) that "when you set out for Ithaca ask that your way be long...". In the end, nothing, apart from inertia, prevents us from helping each other today and every day, from "living prudently and honourably and justly" and thus "living pleasantly", today and every day. This is exactly what ECOCLUB.com - International Ecotourism Club is trying to do: to unite and support all those who care about all of the above and believe in "Ecology and Equity through Tourism" - join us today!
Our Logo: The colour (teal) combines green and blue, key colours of the earth and is one of a few colours named after an animal (a duck, the common teal, whose eyes are surrounded by this colour). The smiling sun symbolizes a pragmatic, positive, non-violent, non-sectarian, non-dogmatic, philosophical attitude to life which combines the Epicurean "LATHE VIOSAS" ("ΛΑΘΕ ΒΙΩΣΑΣ" - get through life without drawing unwarranted attention) and "ATARAXIA" (ΑΤΑΡΑΞΙΑ - tranquility) with the will to assist others, solve real problems, rise up every day, in a peaceful, daily revolution in all our individual and collective dealings; it also symbolizes solar power - renewable energy in literal and figurative terms and light - the light of science, enlightenment.
Getting involved: Membership is open to all, but we particularly welcome those who share our philosophy as stated above and wish to cooperate with other Members and us to realise these aims.
"What I discovered, much to my astonishment, was a story that had something of the character of a literary detective story, in which various disparate clues led inexorably to a single, surprising, source. In this case, the materialism of Bacon and Marx, and even that of Darwin (although less directly), could be traced back to a common point of origin: the ancient materialist philosophy of Epicurus. Epicurus' role as the great Enhghtener of antiquity-a view of his work that was shared by thinkers as distinct as Bacon, Kant, Hegel, and Marx-provided me for the first time with a coherent picture of the emergence of materialist ecology, in the context of a dialectical struggle over the definition of the world."
- John Bellamy Foster, Marx's Ecology, Materialism & Nature
Recommended Reading, Influences, Food for Thought: