We all like traveling to distant places, but what are the environmental issues involved?
While you might not be thinking at such problems during your holiday, the traveling and tourism industry, unfortunately, has quite some negative effects on the environment, and this is a serious problem, since an estimated billion people are involved in such activities each year.
What are the consequences?
Impact of Tourism on the Environment
- Carbon dioxide emissions. Automobile, trains and, especially, aviation are among the main sources of carbon emissions. It is widely acknowledged that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate changes and global warming, with all the environmental issues involved. While there is an ongoing effort to design less polluting engines, few companies have enough financial resources to afford such innovative technologies.
- Energy consumption and pollution. More people traveling worldwide means that more hotels and other facilities are necessary to accommodate feed and entertain them. That, in turn, means spending much more resources: energy, construction materials etc., plus causing more pollution through all the chemicals used. While energy-efficient buildings and non-toxic and eco-friendly solutions for cleaning, painting etc. are being developed, they are not yet globally-widespread.
- Deforestation and destruction of natural ecosystems. Building all these facilities, but also roads, railways, airports, involves destroying native ecosystems, removing unique vegetation and leaving many wild animals without their habitats. While this is inevitable, conservation means need to be applied to preserve natural diversity.
- Mass tourism. Millions and millions of people moving to one place cause significant environmental issues. Trespassing through natural areas, boating, scuba diving or fishing are activities that may be sustainable if done by a limited human population. But, when numbers rise to such values, the negative impact on the environment cannot be stopped. It is just a matter of numbers.
- Competition for space. Humans and wildlife are not really habituated with living one next to each other. Mass tourism and lots of people moving from one place to another just means that there is a high possibility that they will have to compete for the same space. Humans are encroaching on natural reserves, and other protected areas are a stress factor for both parties involved. Animals find their habitat threatened, while incidents involving animal attacks on humans are more and more common.
- Invasive species. Many people moving increases the chances for wild species to be accidentally carried to distant areas. It may be about some tiny spores or seeds, but the environmental issues caused can be severe.