February 19, 2013

What is the Environmental Impact of the Travel Industry? - By Laura Chapman

The connection between the travel industry and environmental impact is well documented, but what are the real facts of the issue and what can be done to reduce this impact and create a greener travel industry?

Cost and convenience have traditionally been the main two factors for people choosing travel options, but this is set to shift slightly in the future as the environmental impact of travel decisions takes more importance. This is not only due to the change in consciousness of the public, who are becoming increasingly concerned with the choices they make, but also due to the fact that governments are now beginning to reward industries that are making positive changes. This means that moving forward; it will also become more financially viable for people to make environmentally aware travel choices as government subsidies and tax levies make green travel a cheaper option.

The first and most important step towards creating a more environmentally sustainable future is gathering facts and figures on fuel consumption, emissions, noise pollution, environmental side effects, impact on wildlife and habitats, and any other environmental impacts that are occurring. Without the evidence to support speculation on the issue, it is not possible to make quantifiable changes for a better future.

The transport industry as a whole accounts for 23% of greenhouse emissions, with road transport and marine vehicles contributing the largest portion of the damage. There is now a worldwide push towards measuring and recording environmental impacts, and implementing future targets for industries to work towards.

Air Travel

Air travel is said to account for 1.6% of the total amount of greenhouse emissions and around 2% of all the carbon emissions in the world, although on average developed countries are contributing closer to 5 or 6% and not 2%.

The aviation industry has been working for a number of years to reduce its environmental impact and this is seen mainly through improvements in engine technology and emission reductions. Each time a new passenger aircraft is put into circulation it is designed with energy consumption in mind, meaning that as old airplanes are put out of service and replaced with new ones the skies become greener.

One thing that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future however is the growth in the sheer volume of air traffic. Flights are affordable to the masses and it is the most convenient and quick way of getting between most destinations. This means that more flights are being chartered each year, resulting in higher amounts of total emissions being emitted.

Cruise Ships

Traditionally cruise ships have been seen as one of the worst offenders of environmental pollution. Apart from the huge volume of emissions coming out of the gigantic engines, there is an unimaginable amount of waste produced due to the sheer volume of people onboard. Estimated figures of waste produced on a large cruise ship each day is 21,000 gallons of sewage, 1 ton of rubbish, 170,000 gallons of waste water from guest usage, 6,400 gallons of oily bilge from engine, and around 8,000 plastic bottles. This is an incredible amount each and every day that the ship is operational, but there are now big plans in action to reduce this waste and over pollution. All major cruise liners are now being equipped with measures to cut down on waste and energy consumption and these are positive changes for the environment. In order to reduce the amount of energy required to fuel the ships movement, hulls are now being painted with silicon based paint to reduce friction and consequently less power will be required to propel these huge vessels. One of the largest energy burners on a ship is actually the air conditioning and pumping systems, which are now being given a lot of attention. There have also been major developments in on board waste water treatment and fuel economy in recent years, making the future of cruise ships a much more environmentally friendly one.

What Can We Do as Individuals?

If you are looking to make a positive impact on the environment the easiest way to do so is in the choices that you make. Every time you purchase something you are supporting that industry. This means that every time you book a flight or cruise, or train, taxi, bus, or whatever it may be, you are opting to fund that company and that industry. By doing a little research before choosing how to travel you can spend your money on a company that you support. Choosing environmentally friendly cruise operators, low emission bus companies or electric taxi vehicles is a great way to make a difference.

February 7, 2013

A Brief Travel Diary from 2002 - Places visited far and wide

Past days spent in kalsi, Chakrata, Deoban, Dakpathar, Roorkee, Asan Barragae, Shimla, Rampur Mandi, kasauli, Paonto Sahib, Sahiya, Sambagh, Matakmajri, Timli, Chabra, Kanesar, Spiders Colony, Beas Mandir, Vikasnagar, Herbetpur, Tiuni, daragarh, Sawra, Kathiyan...... So many places in a matter of days....

February 2, 2013

Measuring upto India’s Bullies

I have long wondered why I live here. In India. A country that counts its cultural heritage on its fingertips, a place where everyone responds to crisis with godly intonations. Where I, for a long time in my life, was a also a honorary exponent of the ‘chalta hai’ phenomenon. Where I saw things done and felt angry and helpless and said that nothing could be done and just walked away. I saw this and wondered what could be done, after all this is what it is, if you want to be an Indian, this is how you live it. And I remember instances where I could have done something but did not and where I did too little to make a change.

I remember a school bully missing classes and sometimes taking others as well to loiter around. I saw him abuse people and still get away. I remember him looking older than his 17 years and misbehaving with his teachers. And I remember the one thing I did right. I walked up to his class teacher and told her Mrs. Berger, that this guy was lying and wasting his and others’ life around. The guy got scolded. I possibly escaped beating because I was really a kid, maybe in the fourth and also perhaps everyone was scared of my father.

I remember my sister getting teased and I remember her slapping the boy smack in his face in the middle of his boy’s school, St. Vincents. She stood, waited for her bus and left for home. That boy was not seen again.

I remember my hostel mates looking forward to the exhibition at Pragati maidan in Delhi so that they could press the breasts of as many girls as possible. In Holi, they would enter the nearby colonies and do the same and run away. I remember not being able to do anything about this. I remember that phase as a painful one.

I remember not being able to fight off raggers who would force us to listen to them. Yet, I remember standing upto them one day and was led off by one considerate senior who knew that I could have been bashed by them.

I remember two fights more than anyone. A gang threatening a friend and we going to help. One of them pouncing at me and I remember a huge basketball friend of mine, some Tyagi coming in and protecting me. I remember this other time when I confronted, if you can believe it, 40 of them and standing my ground, about to be jostled. When suddenly, another friend, this time a volleyball player, literally lifting me and taking me away.
I remember getting cowed by the police in Sector 10 in Chandigarh when four of us were walking close to the arts college. They asked for a bribe to let us go or they would take us to the Police Station. And I remember losing it and also four of us coughing up 50 rupees each. I remember that exactly the same spot, policemen coming to check me and sister walking together and remember her giving them a dose.

I remember my friend Rawat standing upto 10 armed fellows and them backing off. I remember him being chided and joked about for months that here is this short tempered man. I remember standing up with him all through.

I remember fighting group mentality during post graduation and I remember falling prey to it so very often. I remember them as making fun of girls as if they owned them and I remember standing up to them. So much that by the time, I finished that course, I was the lone man standing and the girls had fought back by then. The girls infact took this gang by their horns and showed them their place. The next one year, these guys were quite.

I remember teasing and violence, slowly giving way to intolerance and political and official domineering. And this is where I stand today. Having to fight and give way sometimes. Managing a different type of an Indian everyday who are connected by a common thread of being intolerant and suggest complete acceptance of their way. Their way or no way.

I don’t remember anything now. I am living it. Apathy of our people, the dadagiri of the gentry, the meek acceptance by us to most of their demands. And the growing feeling that I must fight on. Must keep on. Else whatever fine idea, I had about this country will remain a pipe dream.

But what does one do of the politician who demands free stay, of the officer who expects a bribe, of the another officer who sends free people for safaris, of the man who is deep in corrupt waters, of the men who indulge in political backbiting and make it their favourite pastime, of the chauvinist who won’t accept you as you can’t speak his language fluently, of the friend who can’t accept a fault in Sachin Tendulkar, of a man talking that the movement in Delhi means we are getting aware now, of the man who says that his uncle is this MLA or that MP and won’t pay for an extra cup of tea, of that familiar face who would call a powerful fellow to throw around his weight, of the clerk who would take days to send a file, of the doctor who never works at the public health centre and is instead found in Mysore practicing his trade, of the narrow-mindedness that these broad-minded people in developed cities are trapped in, of the man who illegally carries away sand or mud or trees or coal, of them who are developed yes but sensitized, no.

I would fight them all.

Hampi Uninterrupted