Category Archives: Climate Change

The Truth About Travel: What’s Next?

Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam. Courtesy of David McKelvey/ Flickr Creative Commons

Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam. Courtesy of David McKelvey/ Flickr Creative Commons

Ecotourism is a phenomenon that has grown substantially in the last thirty years. It has reached countries all around the world from Central and South America to Asia. And with its growth has come a growing interest in whether or not ecotourism is as successful as it is thought to be.

Ecotourism grew from being just about protection of the environment to include protection of the local communities. But there has been the potential of actually doing more harm than good in that sense. A case study by Mike Stone and Geoffrey Wall was done on ecotourism in Hainan, China, where a park intended for conservation was built. According to their study, “at least one quarter of residents surveyed indicated that the park has had no effect or only negative effects (mainly in terms of lost jobs and land) on their lives.” The residents tend to be the ones that suffer when ecotourism becomes more prominent in the community, even if it is intended to help them. Continue reading

Moving Forward: Addressing the Impact of Industrial Livestock on Our Heating Planet

Cow Jumping in Field Photo Courtesy of Clarissa Leahy

Cow Jumping in Field
Photo Courtesy of Clarissa Leahy

On March 31st researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden concluded that to meet the United Nations’ goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius a reduction in meat consumption is needed. Further the report contends that if meat consumption trends continue as projected, nitrous oxide and methane emissions from livestock may double by 2070. The scientists conclude, “This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.”

The industrial livestock sector has come under much criticism as it has been pinned for 18 percent of all green house gas emissions. Some experts feel that the contribution could be as high as 51 percent, as scientific studies continue to demonstrate how factory farms exacerbate greenhouse gas emission levels. Producers, policymakers, and consumers have the ability to dramatically change the impact of meat production on the environment.

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In a Changing State: What is Next For National Parks?

Arch at Yellowstone National Park with the well-known saying. Photo courtesy of Madeline Hirshan

Arch at Yellowstone National Park with the well-known saying. Photo courtesy of Madeline Hirshan

There is so much uncertainty in the future facing national parks as a result of global warming. If preserved areas such as national parks are at risk to dramatic transformation due to climate change, what can that mean for unprotected areas? Previous posts have described the current situation, the history, and the wildlife at risk in various national parks in the United States. In a conversation with National Park Service Ecologist Tom Rodhouse, who was one of the researchers on the “Pikas in Peril” project, he said, that it is a “time of great change and soul searching.” Tom continued to state that, “climate is highly dynamic.” He explained the significance between a highly dynamic, ever-changing climate in combination with national parks which are considered “static” entities.

Efforts have been taken by the National Park Service to cope with and mitigate pressing climate issues. The National Park Service had developed a “Climate Change Action Plan” for the years 2012 to 2014. In this document, the Park Service lays out the major issues pertaining to a changing climate, prioritizes the most pressing issues, and comes up with responses and mitigation strategies. The plan calls for an interdisciplinary approach to climate change along with two methods of coping with climate change including, “adaptation” and “mitigation.” National parks serve many purposes and in light of climate change, they serve as models for other areas, establishing methods and ideas as a foundation. Continue reading

Climate Change Underwater: Stories from Aquatic National Parks

Many different environments make up Earth’s ecosystems. Climate change can have strong impacts on both the terrestrial and aquatic spheres. Both freshwater and marine ecosystems are likely to be affected by the ongoing changes due to global warming. Some effects on marine ecosystems include changes in sea level, changes in strength and frequency of coastal storms, water temperatures, abundance of sea ice, and changes in ocean circulation. In terms of national park conservation, certain national parks are composed of mostly aquatic environments. Therefore, increases in temperature, among other factors, can have significant impacts on the park and the wildlife that reside within it. This post will focus on two national parks, Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, and the parks in South Florida including the Everglades. The unique changes that are likely to occur in marine ecosystems can potentially significantly alter these two environments and their inhabitants. Continue reading

The Politics behind America’s Industrial Meat Industry

Photo Courtesy of Gourmet

Crowded Cows
Photo Courtesy of Gourmet

Environmental regulation of the meat industry in the United Sates is largely non-existent, as government agencies have proved absent or ineffectual in addressing the harmful emissions and practices of large-scale slaughterhouses. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for the regulation of factory farms, however, it does little to prevent, limit, and rectify the toxic emissions and excessive wastes of the livestock industry. Major corporations in the meat industry benefit from the weak regulatory environment, and spend massive sums of money each year on lobbying efforts. The rise of industrial, environmentally insensitive meat production has been facilitated by particular regulations, or lack thereof, and policies, thus any major changes to the livestock industry will likely start at the level of government.

The profit centric and environmentally ignorant policies sustaining large-scale, industrial animal farming affectively began with the farm bill put forth by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Known as the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933, Roosevelt’s farm bill was part of his New Deal legislation, aimed to revitalize struggling farmers during the Great Depression. The bill provided subsidies and fueled research, which encouraged, intentionally or not, the growth of industrial agriculture. While researchers and scientists studied the most effective means of raising livestock and maximizing production, farmers reshaped agriculture with the money and research provided to them. Plainly, Roosevelt’s bill restored prices, concentrated land in the hands of the few, and perpetuated the rise of agribusiness.

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