The 350.org events last Saturday on the International Day of Climate Action give us cause for hope. As Jeremy Smith is discovering, there are thousands of inspiring stories out there about people making a difference
A few weeks ago I wrote about how over the years I have often come across examples of inspiring local innovations... which I have then realised almost no one outside of the local area knows about. And that as a result of this frustration, a few months ago I launched a new website – www.ivili.org aiming to showcase them all.
What I didn't realise when I did this, and what cheers me up as I search for more examples to talk about every day, is just what a huge number of such inspiring innovations there are out there.
The more I trawl the internet, and most specifically youtube, the more amazing stories I unearth. Yet the trouble with youtube is that, while it grows daily into the largest library the world has ever seen, it's a librarian's nightmare, with its content randomly labelled by millions of people across the world, and often stuck in the wrong place, with the wrong cover and a title that bears little... Read More...
Ecotourism is not simply about minimising your negative impact. There are places you can go where your presence (and money) can make a positive difference too
I'm sitting on the Stena Line ferry from Holyhead to Dublin on my way to a family wedding. A man dressed head to toe as Curious George the chimp has just strode gamely by, pursued by a gaggle of screeching children, many wielding balloons tied in all manner of unlikely shapes.
Plastic pint mugs of beer flow freely, electronic explosions can be regularly heard from the arcade machines, and in the Met bar lounge, a giant projector screen is keeping a few listless voyagers up to speed with the latest from the darts. Yes, it's ecotravel, Jim, but not as we know it.
Over the past two years of writing my new book Clean Breaks - 500 New Ways to See the World, my conception of green tourism, sustainable travel - call it what you will, has shifted considerably.
Not that long ago I associated it almost exclusively with the sort of volunteer holidays where one stays with scientists and... Read More...
There are plenty of small scale, locally appropriate innovations out there. Jeremy Smith has set up a video archive and social network that puts all the stories and advice together
One day early last year I came across a brilliant, innovative way of heating water for showers in an offgrid ecolodge in South Africa.
It was cheap, lo-tech, easily replicable, and it worked. But, after visiting 25 more countries across Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, I never saw anything like it again.
Elsewhere, I had similar experiences, where people had clearly worked hard, expending time and money to develop a locally appropriate solution, and then got on with the million other things they had to do.
It got me thinking - there needed to be a way of sharing these countless stories of environmentally friendly and simple solutions and innovations, whether they are reports from permaculture schemes for greening the Dead Sea's desert, tips on how to get started in beekeeping, or the tale of a 14 year old Malawian boy who
To fly or not to fly? Jeremy Smith navigates his way through a tricky issue and finds that there isn't a simple answer
Last week I attended a conference for a campaign to gain legal rights for all living beings from trees to tigers, which argued that only when they have such rights can they be properly represented in a court of law. Aside from being truly fascinating and considerably brain stretching at times, it was remarkable for how diverse was the range of its attendees - international lawyers, hippies young and old, direct action activists, a UN ambassador and a bearded man in his fifties who arrived (in the centre of London) barefoot.
All these different people meant lots of different voices. Sometimes the lawyers seemed arcane, the hippies idealistic and the direct action activists a bit confrontational. This meant that various people in the audience connected more with one group than another. But what mattered was that everyone wanted the same goal, was willing to listen to each other's points and ways of putting them even if they... Read More...
In the six years I spent at the Ecologist from 2001-2007, there was only one issue we really shied away from tackling properly. And that was tourism.
We wrote a few articles on topics such as the draining of Spanish water tables for golf courses but we never really looked at whether there might be such a thing as 'good' tourism. Despite the growth in popularity of 'ecotourism' during those years, I remember just one article on the subject.
Yet I always loved travel, and spent much of my life before the Ecologist exploring the world. Furthermore, two of the experiences which had the most lasting impact upon me while at the magazine were as a result of travelling - first when I went away on an Earthwatch volunteer trip to the Bahamas to monitor whales and dolphins, and second when several of us from the magazine attended the Salone del Gusto Slow Food Festival in Turin. These experiences of meeting people involved in other ways of living, of seeing first hand why conservation, wildlife protection and biodiversity matter have stayed with... Read More...
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