Earth Day is for reflecting on the health of the planet. Most travelers know that our home is ailing. No global dynamic is as profound, pervasive, consequential, or worrisome as climate change. While everyone is aware that one dramatic weather event, or even an abnormal season does not indicate, by itself, climate change, JOURNEYS travelers and guides around the planet are observing many ongoing changes and the conclusion is inevitable—the global climate is changing and it troubles us.
The glaciers and permanent snowfields atop Kilimanjaro are almost gone. You can still see them and you might get caught in a dusting of snow, but on a sunny day there are only fragments of ice fields left.
The glaciers in the Himalayas of Nepal are similarly receding. No one is predicting all the ice will melt, but in the time we have been visiting Mt. Everest Basecamp, for example, the edge of the Khumbu icefall has receded more than a mile.
Visit Greenland or the high arctic and your guide will show you unprecedented melting, diminished sea ice and eroding coastlines. Trees and crops grow where there was recently ice. The North Pole is regularly ice-free in summer and you can cruise across it.
In many parts of Africa long-term drought is widespread where, along with expanding human activities, it threatens the great wildlife herds. In contrast, other areas are experiencing intense, sustained, unseasonable rains, disrupting ecosystems and agricultural productivity around the globe.
On a broad scale we must all reduce our carbon emissions, which are principally the result of burning coal and oil. There are pathways to a solution including a carbon tax, greater use of renewable and nuclear energy, moderating our energy intensive lifestyle, improving mileage standards and investing in carbon sequestration.
As individuals, there is little we can do, other than to see for ourselves the changes and relate our observations to the skeptics who refuse to believe and are able to block the collective action necessary to address the problem. We recognize that as a company promoting world travel, we contribute to the problem. To this end we embrace ideas, laws and a carbon tax that would bring our energy use back into proportion with sustainable use of our planet.