ISSN 1108-8931


Year 5-Issue 50, July 2003



No, not the summer one, the other one, that you have to 'offset' with a few clicks and a credit card, so that your conscience when booking an airline ticket, is well, cleaner, and so that the website that offers you that opportunity can claim to be 'responsible' (the new buzz word) as air travel is increasingly branded as an environmental villain. In theory, planting a tree to offset your 'carbon emissions' seems a good idea, until you think about the details:
- There is not enough space to plant enough trees on earth to absorb all the carbon emitted, for the simple reason that trees emit carbon back, and as temperature rises, they would emit even more carbon and that would get trapped in the atmosphere in a vicious circle. - There is no scientific proof that a tree planted in Australia can offset pollution in California, which by the way produces 2% of world carbon emissions. - Do you really believe someone will take your donation and then go and plant a tree? - Human emissions are just 4.5% of all natural CO2 emissions, such as those from tropical waterways and volcanic eruptions.
But all this is peanuts compared to the horror of Corporate Applications. The Kyoto Agreement, would miraculously save the planet, as Countries and Companies would be able to trade carbon emissions. Even if this was a sane proposition, the ethics of this would be dubious, as the "Polluter Pays" principle, really becomes: if you can pay, you can pollute. Orwell would marvel. So countries that thanks to recession are nowhere near their 1990 emission level, (e.g. Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia) can sell their excess credits to those that are not so rushing to curb pollution (e.g. USA). Splendid, everyone's a winner, not. As you can expect, a new market for pseudo-ecologists, i.e. consultants, certifiers, bureaucrats and even derivatives traders ("insure your emissions credits against possible devaluation"), has emerged. Verification of emissions is another practical nightmare as common international or cross sector standards do not exist for practical reasons, and when millions of dollars depend on a single sheet of paper, then you can imagine what can happen in terms of corruption. Recent news is that the European Union is probably going ahead with a E.U. emissions trading market from January 2005 onwards. allegedly to enable the E.U. to reach its target under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol on climate change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent of 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012. History will show if this 'market' approach is the way to curb pollution, if the greenhouse effect problem is indeed a problem. More optimistically, solar aircraft prototypes are already being tested and in the future such aircraft or fuel cell-powered ones should be the norm. In the mean time, carbon emissions should not stop you neither from going to work each day, nor travelling once or twice a year to patronise a community tourism project. And one more thing, that on-line donation for the tree planting that you are asked to make? please save it, and buy a locally made product from your hosts. And you will feel a lot cleaner !

Antonis B. Petropoulos, ECOCLUB Editor Expert Member Presentation: 31 July 2003

"Ecotourism Development in Nigeria - Prospects & Problems"

A Live Presentation at the Live Chat Centre

by Mr. Samuel Segun Odunlami, Senior Lecturer,
Nigerian National Institute for Hospitality & Tourism Studies,
Bagauda, Kano

Date: Thursday the 31st of July, at 15:00 GMT / UTC

A short presentation to be followed by a Q & A discussion on Ecotourism in Nigeria.
Please arrive early, as this is a live event and no more than 30 participants will be

CUM GRANO SALIS: "10% eco-tourism"
"An international hotel chain announces that it will henceforth designate 10% of its rooms for “eco-tourism.” How? By using recycled paper for the stationery and menus in those rooms, among other momentous steps. A GIANT METROPOLIS in Asia, the very essence of an “asphalt jungle,” announces it will henceforth pursue policies of “eco-tourism.” How? By creating small, pocket-parks in tiny, unused areas of industrial blight.... Each of these is an actual example taken from press releases and public statements, and highlights the hypocrisy that has enveloped a worthy cause."
Arthur Frommer, Newsweek / MSNBC News

One of the rare occasions where we read something we really like.


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