Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Over-Tourism – Now What Do We Do?

13/07/2019
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Dexter and Genelle Richards at Dexter’s Inn circa 1940  ©randallrichards

I grew up in tourism. My parents started a ski lodge, Dexter’s Inn,  in the 1940’s in Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’ve been in and out of tourism over the years, and in different shades of it, from ski instruction, to experiential education, high-altitude mountain guiding,  a guide on the Inka Trail to Machu Pichu, back in the days when you didn’t see a lot of people, and no permits required (referring to the Inka Trail only).

We now own Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters and Mountain Spirit NZ in the Southern Lakes District of New Zealand. So we’re officially back in the industry. However the industry seems uber-industrial.
Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  So when is enough, enough? And what do we do now?
Here are some rumblings about our, small, but very fast-growing communities, Wanaka and Queenstown, New Zealand.
First an article from CNN: in which Queenstown is listed, among other areas in the world, as a trouble spot, with over 3 million visitors per year…

Destination trouble: Can overtourism be stopped in its tracks?
(CNN) — We first hear about these places when we’re kids. Famous destinations full of wondrous architecture, spectacular scenery or ancient mysteries that fire our imaginations and fill us with yearning.
We dream, we grow, we save up all our money and one day we finally get to visit — only to discover, read more…

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Queenstown, New Zealand , image©Randall Richards

Next, our local Wanaka Stakeholder Group’s Protect Wanaka Facebook page, a firebrand in its own right (and I mean that as a compliment), weighs in: “Queenstown has been named in CNN Travel’s global list of locations that are currently plagued by ‘Overtourism’, read more…

The Wanaka Sun
The Disadvantages of Tourism
By Allison McLean (journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz)

“Tourism is noted as New Zealand’s top export earner and the cornerstone of its economy. It sustains and grows local communities and reportedly employs one in seven New Zealanders, according to Tourism New Zealand. Many locals consider this sword to be double edged, noting the accumulated waste, erosion of land and consumption of fossil fuels from tourism that put the country’s land and greatest asset at risk. read more…

 – – – –

Just as shifting our paradigm on how our family uses plastics during Plastic Free July, we’re in the process of shifting how we think of tourism, and how we contribute to the problem or clean up the mess. Whether as suppliers or tourists, we all need a re-think. A saying I heard the other day made me chuckle, and again was a paradigm shifter:
“I’m not stuck in traffic, I am traffic”
Responsible tourism is the future, not simply the bottom line. Here’s New Zealand’s webpage on the subject, as well as another great page on NZ Sustainable Tourism Tourism Industry Aotearoa, TIA’s page.  And acompany, Responsible Travel has had some new global initiatives.  Lake Wanaka Tourism has published a sustainable tourism page.

Unfortunately I see Wanaka and Queenstown going the way of Park City, Vail, or other towns in the Alps, that just got too big, and now deal with smog, traffic and overgrowth, but that’s another subject, I suppose.  Although we, too, are new here, one redeeming attribute is we’ve always tried to live a small footprint, including buying existing houses rather than building anew, living off the grid when possible etc. .

Tell me what you think. Respectful comments welcome.

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

NZ Crown Jewels for Sale to the Highest Bidder

22/01/2019

Half a Million Hectares, Sold
From Stuff.co.nz
New Zealanders have paid $65m to get rid of some of our most treasured landscapes, through an obscure process critics have described as a vast wave of privatization. Wealthy foreigners are snapping up valuable land once owned by the public, who in some cases paid to dispose of it. As gated estates and manicured golf courses spread through our wild places,  Charlie Mitchell investigates for Stuff.co.nz: Who owns the high country? Read more here…

Damper Bay, Paddock and Glendu Bay

Not far from the site of a new development for the very wealthy, golf course included. Here’s a shot prior to all that.

 

Editor’s Note: A bit of disclosure – My wife is South African, and I’m a Yank, and we bought an existing house and small bit of land in Hawea. So I’m guilty by association only in that I’m American. I believe in living lightly. We have an off-the-grid home and retreat centre, with gravity fed water and a small house. The scale and rate at which foreigners are snapping up New Zealand’s high country is appalling, and appears to be changing the very values of the country, by gentrification.

What Gives You Hope?

26/07/2012

Grafton Pond, NH

“The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I started Mountain Spirit Institute in 1998 when we led our first trip to Peru, with the basic mission “to facilitate a deeper connection to the natural environment, each other and ourselves.”  Since then it has become ever more apparent how we need “nature time” more than ever. It’s good to see people out on the trail, and in kayaks these days, but National Park use is down in the U.S, and technology competes for the breath of fresh air. We just offered a presentation last night in a small town in New Hampshire called “Get Outside While You Still Can.” The piece below echoes a lot of what we covered in our presentation, and why we started MSI.

 By Eric Utne,
Founder, The Utne Reader

As I’ve said in this column before, I’m afraid it may be too late to avoid the devastating effects of global climate change. (more…)

“Get Outta Here”

20/07/2012

GET OUT! 

•    Get Out into nature that is
•    How do you view nature?
•    Find it hard to get nature time?
•    Technology Got ya?

How do you spend your time?……

Doing This?

Or Doing This?

Come and explore, with Mountain Spirit board members
Bob Stremba and Randy Richards,

Nature Deficit Disorder
&
Why we need to get outside while we still can!

GETTING OUTSIDE!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 25th , 7:00PM
Cost: Free

Lake Sunapee Bank Community Room
116 Newport Road
New London, NH, USA
For more information call 603-763-2668 or http://www.mtnspirit.org

Wildlife’s Overpasses on Today’s Highways

19/07/2012

Wildlife Bridge Overpass – Giving animals a leg up on the auto traffic

Where’s the merge lane and who has right of way when the only traffic are animals such as tigers, wallabies, possums or kangaroos? I suppose whoever is highest on the food chain gets to go first across these overpasses with no roads, and only trees and grasses.

Someone posted the aerial image at right this evening. At first glance it looked like the same bridge under which I passed two years ago on the east coast highway heading north from Sydney, Australia. I dug in my files, and found the snapshot of the bridge and include it here.

I was so taken aback by the site of the strange overpass,  which looked like a neglected highway department lapse in maintenance, that I stopped the car and took a picture. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, and after some discussion with my wife, decided it must a wildlife corridor.

Wildlife Overpass – East Coast Australia

It’s good to see there are others. The Facebook image didn’t have a caption indicating where it was, but looks like it could be another location in Australia. Anyway, “Good on ya” for building this you Aussies! Anybody got an idea how many of these wildlife overpasses there are, and who’s the traffic cop?

Death Valley’s “Sailing” Stones

17/07/2012

Sailing Stones

THE SAILING STONES, also referred to as sliding rocks or moving rocks, are a geological puzzling phenomenon found in California, Death Valley. These rocks, some as heavy as 300 Kilograms, are mysteriously transported across a virtually flat desert plain without human or animal intervention, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long. They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no-one has ever seen them in motion.. until recently..

Mystery or Mother Nature?

Deep in the heart of the California desert lies one of the natural world’s most puzzling mysteries: the moving rocks of Death Valley. These are not ordinary moving rocks that tumble down mountainsides in avalanches, are carried along riverbeds by flowing water, or are tossed aside by animals.
These rocks, some as heavy as 700 pounds, are inexplicably transported across a virtually flat desert plain, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long.

They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no one has ever seen them move.
Until now. Racetrack Playa is the seasonally dry lake (a playa) located in the northern part of the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, California, U.S.A. that is famous for ‘sailing stones‘.  One cold winter morning, when the snowmelt covered the playa, the solution to the puzzle was finally caught on film.

Interesting comments and opinions, both pro and con here..

Editor’s Note: We include this post simply because it’s certainly a natural curiosity of mother nature. Let’s learn more about the planet on which we live.

Edward Abbey on Backcountry Skills

12/07/2012

Getting out of the city
North Cascades, WA

Edward Abbey: Action outdoorsman and author of Desert Solitaire, *The Monkey
Wrench Gang and 17 other popular novels and essay collections, was one of America’s most powerful and relentless spokesmen for the environment and certainly its most uninhibited. Here, at Abbey’s curmudgeonly bat, is his introduction to The Backcountry Handbook, of which I thought I’d post  the first half. I doubt many fans of Edward Abbey would find this little gem, buried in an outdoor handbook.

There’s one thing that gripes me in my lurching about in America’s blessed but overcrowded backcountry, it’s those androids from the moronic inferno of contemporary techno culture who apparently

Learned outdoors etiquette from The Boy Scout Handbook of I928.I mean the cretins who build their campfires with green logs laboriously chewed from living trees with dull hatchets. And then erect a corral of rocks to enclose a fire about l0 times bigger than even a White Man needs. And then,
upon departure from the scene of their felonies, pile all their garbage upon the smoldering remains-including such non-combustibles  as tinfoil and wet tin cans, wet condoms and Pampers-let it smoke and black- en and stink for  while and conclude the infamy by heaping this mess with a pile of mud and stones.  Everywhere we go in what’s left of natural America, we find these miniature trash dumps. The intention, no doubt, was to prevent forest fires, as Smokey the Bore has been instructing us for 50 years. But fires are natural, inevitable and good for the forest;   Any Native American can tell you that, if you can find one. (The true terror of the modern forest is not the wildfire but the logger with his chain saw, the road builder with his bulldozer, the cowboy with his cow. These types wreak far more destruction upon our forests than any wildfire ever did or could. And wreak it at our expense, financed by our tax dollars.) Why do these Ralph Lauren he-man Campfire Girls build giant fire rings filled with half-baked rubbish? I don’t know. No one knows. They are the product not of thought but of ritual, spastic reflex, ancient ideologies conceived in sin and whelped by bureaucrats. One discovers such mementos even in the sand and rock of the desert, where the nearest tree may be a scrubby juniper four feet tall, l0 feet away. Mysteries of the Wild.  But irksome. There are many things that irk, actually, not only me but you, but this is not the place for a complete listing.

Editor’s Note: Did you know that The Monkey Wrench Gang was blacklisted from the east coast booksellers during its first printing? Maybe the east coast establishment didn’t want to disturb the goings-on, as this book surely tends to do. I have a well-read family member, that has an incredible breadth of education and reading behind him. What’s more he was a hut ranger in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He had never heard of Edward Abbey. I’m not sure if he’s read him yet. I’ll have to loan him my tattered copy of The Gang.

Magnetic Sensors Discovered in Fish May Explain Wi-Fi Risks

11/07/2012

Don’t adopt technology blindly

Discovery of magnetic sensors in fish and rats may explain why some people can ‘feel’ wi-fi, smart meters, power lines and electropollution
From: NaturalNews.com
Many people suffer real side effects from and are sensitive to electromagnetic pollution. Wi-fi, smart meters, cell phones and other
But new science may have some answers. Magnetosensory cells have been identified in fish, and similar cells are known to exist in pigeons, rabbits and rats.

It is well known that many people are sensitive to electromagnetic pollution. Wi-fi gives them headaches. Being near high-voltage power lines can bring on migraines. Using a cell phone unleashes similar symptoms. Until recently, there was no medically-understood mechanism by which electromagnetic waves could be sensed by humans. These devices all impact human biology in ways modern science still doesn’t understand. But now, thanks to some fascinating science summarized here, that mystery may be closer to being solved.  Scientists from the University of Munich, led by geophysicist Michael Winklhofer, say they’ve located and identified “internal compass needles” in the noses of rainbow trout. These are called magnetosensory cells, and they turn out to be far more sensitive to magnetic fields than anyone previously thought.

Electromagnetic sensors found in fish

As TGdaily.com reports: in their article, Source of animals’ magnetic sense found  “The cells sense the field by means of micrometer-sized inclusions composed of magnetic crystals, probably made of magnetite. These inclusions are coupled to the cell membrane, changing the electrical potential across the membrane when the crystals realign in response to a change in the ambient magnetic field.  “This explains why low-frequency magnetic fields generated by powerlines disrupt navigation relative to the geomagnetic field and may induce other physiological effects,” said Winklhofer.

Electro-smog is getting worse by the day
Read the rest of this story..

A related article: How to reduce risks of electromagnetic pollution

Vanishing Rivers of Ice – Dave Breashears

06/04/2012

Mountaineer and Filmmaker Dave Breashers presents Rivers of Ice, Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya

Before and After Shots..Not Good.

The Greater Himalaya has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar ice sheets, providing vital fresh water for almost every major system  of Asia. Over the past five years, Breashears and the team of his nonprofit organization, GlacierWorks, has conducted ten photographic expeditions to the region, to study and document the effects of climate change on this delicate landscape.

Dave Breashears

Breashears presents at the Boston Museum of Science on April 12, but alas, tickets are sold out. Nevertheless we thought it was worth the post here. You might try to try the climber’s move and squeeze in somewhere.

Retracing the steps of pioneering alpine photographers and explorers George Mallory, Vittorio Sella and others, Breashears and the team have captured  high-definition photographs that  match those of the earliest expeditions. By comparing this contemporary imagery with the historic photographs, Breashears and his team are discovering staggering changes to the region—changes with potentially devastating consequences.

There is  debate in the scientific community about the rate and extent to which Himalayan glaciers are shrinking.  Nevertheless, scientists agree that there is a trend of melting beyond what is expected to occur naturally. Although future impacts of glacial melt cannot be known, any disruption to the water supply will inevitably present challenges to the millions of people living  downstream.
Breashears plans on sharing his work in a blend of first-person story telling and imagery.
More info: Mount Washington Observatory

Thursday, April 12, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Museum of Science, Boston