Should Animals on the Brink of Extinction Be Used to Promote Tourism?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | November 25th, 2013 | 9 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: African elephants, animals, Antarctica, at-risk species, Belize, Canada, Churchill, climate change, Eco Travel, ecotourism, Egypt, endangered-species, environment, extinction, extinction tourism, Galápagos Islands, glaciers, global-warming, habitat destruction, Madagascar, Manitoba, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, poaching, polar-bears, rainforest, Tanzania, tourism, tourists, travel, travelers, UNESCO, wildlife, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Greenland big ice

I have to admit it: last year, my traveling to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to see polar bears in the wild was motivated not only by a 10-year anniversary but by a fear that soon the animals could be gone. I go to see glaciers because I’m afraid we’re losing them. And this coming January, I’m returning to Yellowstone National Park to try to photograph our nation’s wolves before they almost completely disappear in the Lower 48 — again.

You could call me an “extinction tourist.”

I’m far from unique. In fact, today people are traveling in ever-greater numbers to see what they think could quickly vanish from the Earth. While just a few years ago travelers might have endeavored to tick off all seven continents or Africa’s Big Five wildlife species, today there’s a certain “cred” given to those who see the landscapes, animals and plants that are just managing to hang on. And tour providers are tapping into that desire with their marketing messages. “See [fill in your favorite endangered animals] before they’re gone!”

But should tourism companies use threatened species as marketing tools? Given our ability to tune out ads, does that minimize the dire circumstances that these animals and environments are now in and dilute the attention that conservation messages might have been able to muster?

How Much Water Is Your Home Wasting?

Gaiam Staff by Gaiam Staff | October 13th, 2011 | No Comments
topic: Green Living, Green Tech | tags: fresh water, glaciers, human consumption, low-flow faucet, low-flow fixtures, low-flow shower head, low-flow toilet, saline, salt water, save money, save water, showerhead, utility bills, washing machine, water bills, water conservation, water waste, water-saving

How Much Water Is Your Home WastingDid you know that only one percent of the world’s water is fresh water fit for human consumption? Or that you can save more than 30 percent on your water bill by installing and using low-flow fixtures?

Sure, we could tell you all the facts about water conservation, but we’d rather show you, courtesy of this infographic from

Global Warming: Are You Still a Believer?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 13th, 2010 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: al-gore, An Inconvenient Truth, carbon emissions, climate change, Climategate, Copenhagen Climate Summit, environment, Galileo, glaciers, Global Climate Change Conference, global-warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, Greenland, human activity, NASA, Nicolaus Copernicus, President Obama, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, tree ring patterns

New Zealand Iceberg

An island of ice more than four times the size of Manhattan broke off from a glacier in Greenland during the first week of August 2010. It’s drifting across the Arctic Ocean as you read this, probably headed to Canada’s east coast.

Green Your Memorial Day: Visit and Help Protect a National Park

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | May 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: climate change, eco-travel destinations, glaciers, national parks, National Parks Conservation Association, Yellowstone National Park

Summer in Yellowstone National Park

Summer in Yellowstone National Park

When one of my editors for whom I write “The Virtuous Traveler,” my column on sustainable travel, asked me to visit Yellowstone National Park this past January, I was — how shall I say? — less than enthused. Surely, I suggested, they needed a story on Tahiti? Kenya? Lebanon?

Glaciers to See Before They’re Gone

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | June 10th, 2008 | No Comments
topic: Eco Travel | tags: glaciers, global-warming, James-Balag

One of the current casualties of global warming is the size and scope of many of the world’s glaciers. From the Arctic to the Andes, many of these moving tongues of ice are melting faster than at any time in the past 10,000 years, when they were formed during the last Ice Age. While glaciers have been shrinking since the middle of the 19th century, the pace of their dissolution has accelerated dramatically in the last couple of decades. Glaciers in the Alps, in particular, are disappearing very rapidly, and some glaciologists predict that the Alps’ glaciers will be gone entirely by 2050. James Balog, a photographer for National Geographic, has been providing stark documentation of this trend through his Extreme Ice Survey (, a project that seeks to capture glacial retreat in a series of time-release photographs shot during every daylight hour from December 2006 through fall 2009 at locations around the world. Already the results are stunning. Glaciers are shrinking so quickly that one scientist I met at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., was planning to take his kids to Alaska’s Glacier Bay now, since he wasn’t confident they could have the same experience once they are adults and could afford to go themselves. I’m feeling a similar compulsion to re-visit some of the spectacular glaciers I encountered while I was a tour director in Alaska during the 1980s and early ‘90s, while I still can. If you, too, would like to experience the cold majesty of these far-north frozen realms, consider a summer visit to this sampling in our 49th state: Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound Among the world’s fastest-moving glaciers, Columbia has shrunk in length more than 9 miles since 1980. One of Alaska’s 51 tidewater glaciers, it winds down from the austere heights of the Chugach Range, discharging a mind-boggling amount of ice into the sea in a single day. Day boat cruises from Valdez or Whittier bring visitors to the terminal moraine. Harding Ice Field, Kenai Fjords National Park Covering 300 square miles, this massive ice cap spawns multiple tidewater glaciers that can be viewed on small boat cruises out of Seward. Exit Glacier, lying inland, is accessible from trails off Exit Glacier Road, which intersects the Seward Highway just north of Seward. (Note: Natural Habitat has a fabulous trip called Hidden Alaska that includes a small-boat cruise on the Fjords as part of a 13 day adventure). Portage Glacier, near Girdwood About an hour’s drive south of Anchorage, Portage Glacier pours into Portage Lake, filling it with bobbing icebergs. While the glacier was previously visible from the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center next to the lake, it is now best seen on a boat cruise across the lake on the mv Ptarmigan. The one-hour cruise takes visitors within 300 yards of the glacier’s face. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve Glacier Bay lies about 50 air miles west of Juneau and encompasses 12 tidewater glaciers that disgorge giant bergs into the bay. It’s also home to a host of marine life, including whales, sea lions, seals and otters. While the bay is renowned for kayaking, the park service also offers a daily high-speed catamaran trip from Glacier Bay Lodge. At the head of the bay, you’ll experience life at its most primal, where barren bedrock has been newly uncovered by the receding ice and brand-new life is just beginning to take hold. Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau Just north of Alaska’s capital of Juneau, this 12-mile-long glacier is the most easily accessed portion of the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield. Though often crowded with cruise ship day-trippers, it doesn’t take much to get close to the glacier in a more intimate way. Easy hikes to the face begin at the visitors center, or opt for an organized tour: options include a helicopter landing atop the ice, with a chance to walk on its surface wearing special foot gear, or a float trip on the placid Mendenhall River flowing from the edge of the glacier, punctuated with drifting chunks of ice.