‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

May 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on ‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

The tourism industry is booming throughout the world but nowhere more noticeably than on the small tropical islands of Southeast Asia. Millions of tourists flock to these remote islands every day to enjoy the beaches and snorkel among the coral reef, but the traffic and waste they produce has forced some ecosystems to reach their breaking point. “Overtourism” is the new term for the overpopulation of tourists who wreak havoc on fragile ecosystems. Many Asian governments have had to close entire islands in order to allow habitats and species (like sharks and sea turtles) to rehabilitate. The environmental impact of overtourism The primary reasons that mass tourism negatively impacts the environment include: Discharge of human waste directly into the ocean by boats, cruise ships and hotels A government survey in the Philippines revealed that 716 out of 834 businesses on the famous Boracay Island did not have wastewater permits and were indiscriminately dumping sewage and waste into the water. Cruise ships, private yachts and many hotels along the coasts also dump waste directly into the ocean . Toxic chemicals from sunscreens pollute young coral species Sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate have been found to alter the DNA of young corals , prohibiting normal and healthy growth. Related: Hawaii bans reef-killing chemical sunscreens Massive amounts of garbage and plastic pollution According to the Ocean Conservancy, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are responsible for up to 60 percent of all plastic pollution in the ocean. Globally, eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Related: New study reveals microplastics are in the air Unsustainable development and the destruction of key habitats, like mangroves Almost 50 percent of all mangrove forests have been destroyed in countries including India, the Philippines and Vietnam. Mangroves are systematically cleared to make way for hotels, resorts and white sand beaches, but healthy mangroves are an essential part of healthy coastal ecosystems. Mangroves protect beaches from erosion and provide critical nursery and breeding grounds for young fish and other species. Why are there so many tourists? The rapid rise in tourism is mostly because of expanding middle classes in many countries. More people are able to afford vacations and travel, particularly in China. In 2018, Chinese citizens made a total of 150 million trips abroad, compared to just 10 million in 2000. Regardless of the origin of the tourists, Pacific islands’ infrastructure and ecosystems are unable to handle the surge and are in desperate need of regulation and management. “I would argue that tourism has not only been badly managed in general, it’s not been managed at all,” said Randy Durband, chief executive officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Islands close their borders to tourists When tourism began to rise, most island residents were happy to have the jobs and foreign investment, and their governments did not take the time nor resources to develop a management strategy or implement limitations. Now, many governments are scrambling to preserve the very ecosystems that bring tourists to their shores before they are destroyed beyond repair. After calling the waters around Borocay Island a “cesspool,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duerte closed the entire island and launched a large clean-up effort. A new management plan will reduce the daily visitors from 20,000 to approximately 6,000, ban single-use plastics , impose littering fines and ban jet skis from driving within 100 meters of the shore. With these steps, an acceptable rehabilitation of the island is expected to take at least two years. In Thailand, the government closed the famous Maya Bay indefinitely after conservationists reported that over 50 percent of corals had been destroyed. In addition to sunscreen toxins, boat anchors and physical impact from tourists walking on coral and taking pieces as souvenirs cause major damage. Current coral restoration efforts are underway to replant native corals, and species like black tipped reef sharks have reportedly returned. SEE: Can the Cayman Islands save to Caribbean’s remaining coral reefs? Closing islands is an extreme solution, but it demonstrates that many governments are realizing the importance of ecosystems even at the expense of tourism revenue. Sustainable tourism expert Epler Wood said, “We don’t advocate a closing unless it’s an emergency. We recommend balanced management that looks at supply and demand and measured responses based on planning and science that involves regular benchmarking, like water testing .” Tips for sustainable tourism Tips for governments: The nation of Bali has imposed a $10 tax on international passengers that goes directly toward cultural and environmental preservation initiatives, such as waste management. Many tourism-dependent islands in the Pacific and Caribbean have imposed similar tourist fees. In Palau, visitors are required to sign an environmental pledge that is stamped right onto their passports, promising to act respectfully and without damaging ecosystems. Bans on straws and single-use plastics can also be particularly effective on small islands without proper waste management systems. Finally, governments can invest in marine spatial planning and zoning initiatives that identify key vulnerable areas. Such spatial data allows governments to declare zones and enforce allowable activities within the zones, such as protected conservation areas versus recreation areas. Tips for tourists: According to the South China Morning Post, here are five tips to be a more sustainable tourist : Book hotels that employ sustainable initiatives to reduce waste, energy and water consumption. Choose tour operators who give back to the community — and keep tourism benefits within the local economy — by employing locals, supporting local growers and other initiatives. Be a plastic-free traveler and dispose of your garbage correctly. Research sustainable tourism initiatives you might want to support ahead of your trip. Engage in community-based tourism. “The basic model is: educate yourself, do the right thing and try to be of positive benefit,” said Marta Mills, a sustainable tourism specialist. “Act like you are a guest in someone’s home, because you are.” Via Yale360 Images via Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi , Laznes Binch ,  Stefan Munder , Juanjook Torres González and Jose Nicdao

Read the original post: 
‘Overtourism’: Surges in unsustainable tourism are destroying islands in the Pacific

Couple converts an old school bus into a chic skoolie for travel

May 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Couple converts an old school bus into a chic skoolie for travel

When you are ready to explore the country, why not take your home with you? Sure, there are motorhomes and travel trailers to choose from. You could even pick up a Sprinter van. But for a real adventure, you could tootle about in a skoolie. If you didn’t catch the play on words, a skoolie is a converted school bus made into a tiny home on wheels . Couple Robbie and Priscilla have converted a school bus into their own travel-ready abode through a process of trial and error mixed with some frustration and a dash of luck. The couple wanted the exceptional 210-square-feet of open space that a school bus allows so they could bring along their pet cat and feel like they had more of a home than an RV. The 1998 Thomas School Bus was the inspiration that drove them forward with their plan. Related: A 1992 International School Bus gets a second life as an adventure-mobile The conversion took a year and a half to complete, with many obstacles along the journey. For example, discovering leaky windows required a complete replacement. Then, a blown gasket kept the project in park for several months. If ever there was a reward worth the labor, this homey project is it. As a result of their efforts, the couple was able to take to the road in March in a cozy, relaxed dwelling. The lengthy, flowing space is well lit with myriad windows throughout and white cabinetry lining one side. The gray laminate flooring accents the stainless steel appliances and is complemented by the cedar tongue-in-groove ceiling. Storage is tucked in several areas including beneath the raised bed, near the ceiling in the kitchen and under the couch in a sitting area. The tiny home’s unusually large bathroom features tile work alongside glass shower doors, and the bus also has two outdoor showers for convenient clean-up. Unlike most RVs, this skoolie features both air conditioning and a fireplace, which suits the couple well as they begin their trip in Canada and Alaska, planning to later hit all 48 contiguous states. + Going Boundless Via Curbed Images via Going Boundless

Here is the original:
Couple converts an old school bus into a chic skoolie for travel

FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika

With confirmation that Zika-carrying mosquitos have finally spread to the US, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a controversial new experiment to confront the attendant risk. Genetically engineered mosquitoes will be released in Key West , Florida in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. The engineered male mosquitoes contain a gene that causes any offspring to die before the bugs can transmit the disease to humans. The altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were created by Oxitec Ltd ., which has already carried out trials in Brazil, the Cayman Islands , and Panama. By any measure, the tests were a runaway success: local mosquito populations were reportedly reduced by 90 percent. While the FDA gave preliminary approval to the test earlier this year, the decision has now been made formal with the agency’s release of an environmental assessment showing the mosquitos would “not have significant impacts on the environment.” However, Oxitec still needs the approval of Key West residents in order to go ahead – polling will take place later this fall. Related: Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time While this is an effective method of controlling mosquitoes and the numerous diseases they carry without resorting to harsh chemical pesticides, the plan comes with controversy . Some opponents to the plan cite concerns about safety, the impact on tourism, and the potential impact the declining mosquito population could have on the nearby ecosystem. At least one entomologist has argued that the ecological concerns are overblown , since only one particular species of mosquito is targeted by the efforts. However, these concerns are exactly why it’s so important to start with small-scale tests rather than simply releasing the modified mosquitos throughout the country. This approval comes after Center for Disease Control officials confirmed that the Zika virus has finally reached the continental US . Though there have been cases reported throughout the US this year, this is the first time public health officials have seen cases that were acquired by patients in the US. Previous cases were generally acquired when the victims had traveled to countries with a known Zika outbreak, although there have been some cases that were believed to be sexually transmitted . Via The Verge Photos via Yael and DodgertonSkillhause

See the original post: 
FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika

Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

June 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

The FDA just approved the world’s first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine . The tests will determine whether or not the vaccine is safe for use in normal, healthy people – however, they will not be able to determine whether or not the vaccine prevents the disease. The vaccine, called GLS-5700, has been shown to cause a strong antibody response against the Zika virus in monkeys and mice. With any luck, the results of this new study will be available by the end of the year. The trial will be run by Inovio Pharmaceuticals , a company specializing in immunotherapy, and GeneOne Life Science , a DNA vaccine developer. It will begin in just a few short weeks, and it will include 40 adult subjects. If successful, the vaccine may be tested in people who have an existing Zika infection in later trials. GLS-5700 is what is known as a ” DNA vaccine ,” a relatively new approach to fighting disease. Instead of directly injecting parts of the infectious agent, it consists of DNA coded to produce a special protein that surrounds the Zika virus. The vaccine is injected the same way as a normal shot, and it’s also zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical pulse to help guide the DNA into the patient’s cells. Once this process is complete, the new DNA trains the immune system of the patient to fight the disease. Related: Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes are being released in the Cayman Islands to fight Zika This may be the first Zika vaccine approved for testing, but it isn’t the only one being developed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also in the process of developing a DNA vaccine , which may begin phase 1 testing as soon as August. However, it’s important to note that clinical testing is a long and complex process, and that it might still be years yet before either of these vaccines are ready for the mass market. Via The Verge Photos via Tom and Oregon State University

Here is the original post: 
Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

The Caribbean’s Coral Reefs Could Soon Be Extinct

September 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on The Caribbean’s Coral Reefs Could Soon Be Extinct

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has released a report saying that the Caribbean’s iconic reefs are in sharp decline, with live coral coverage down to an average of just eight percent. Shockingly, due to overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising global temperatures, that is down 50% from what it was in the 1970s. The non-governmental organization unveiled the information at an international environmental conference in Korea where they said that time was “running out” for the region, and that stringent safeguards were needed. The report also stated that the coral destruction was worse in certain areas than others. However some parts of the reef including the Dutch islands of the southern Caribbean and the British territory of the Cayman Islands still have up to 30% cover in places. The rapid decline in coral growth was described as “critical” as with so little growth of live coral, the reefs are in danger of utter devastation. Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of the global marine and polar programme at the IUCN, said: “The major causes of coral decline are well known. Looking forward, there is an urgent need to immediately and drastically reduce all human impacts [if coral reefs] are to survive in the decades to come.” The picture for the world’s coral reefs is a bleak one with scientists from the World Resources Institute predicting that by 2050 virtually all of the world’s coral reefs would be in danger. In the Caribbean, it is estimated that 75% of the coral reefs were in danger along with 95% of those in South-East Asia. If you are planning on snorkeling in the near future and don’t wish to harm the reefs, it is important to note the following steps: (1) Remember that coral is alive; don’t step on or touch it and avoid stirring up sediment nearby; (2) don’t disturb or harass marine life; and (3) don’t remove marine life from its natural habitat or shells — and don’t buy souvenirs made from coral! + International Union for Conservation of Nature Via Wanderlust Lead Image: Beautiful view of sea life photo via Shutterstock Other Images: Sharife and Jim Bahn

More here: 
The Caribbean’s Coral Reefs Could Soon Be Extinct

Bad Behavior has blocked 1018 access attempts in the last 7 days.