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It was simultaneously the most magnificent and yet most frightening thing I've ever seen.
The Taku Glacier near Juneau, Alaska is one of the few glaciers left on the planet listed as "advancing" or growing. Yet, after exploring the magnificent natural marvel with my expedition from Allen Marine Tours-hands down one of the best local tour groups I've ever worked with-our guide pulled our hovercraft around the back of the glacier.
Now, while national registries may say that Taku is advancing, locals told me that it hasn't been growing at any meaningful rate for a while. So, there I sat, watching as this supposedly "growing" glacier had a Mississippi River-style roaring current come rushing out of it and listening as our tour guide told us that he sees this every day, wondering how much longer this particular facet of the tour will even be possible.
This was just a day after I learned that rapid melting had shut down entire groups of tours at Juneau's famous Mendenhall Glacier and that the park had been brainstorming ways to change what they do because the glacier isn't as close to the visitors center as it used to be.
Alaskans in the tourism industry are blunt about the ways climate change is already affecting their lives as well about how frightened they are about how much worse it could get.
Fast forward a few months and Dominca's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, went to the United Nations Climate Change Conference with one major goal in mind-convince the international community to support the Paris Agreement to fight climate change.
Why? Because Dominica (and its tourism) are being torn apart by ever-increasing storms growing to record-breaking proportions thanks to warming seas around them.
Of all the major players on the international stage, only the United States seems to be dragging its feet. France has stepped up to announce they'll "cover" America's financial piece of the agreement.
Climate change has to be one of the biggest (if not the single biggest) issues in travel today.
It's difficult not to look at pristine beaches in Florida or waterfront resorts in the Caribbean and wonder how much longer nature gives us until rising waters overtake what we take for granted.
The temperature aside, the most recent big news in travel is a reversal on US policy when it comes to importing trophies from hunting elephants in Africa.
Abercrombie & Kent's Geoffrey Kent spoke to TravelPulse, saying, "hunting is not sustainable and provides cover for the illegal trade in ivory."
Sustainable is the key word that must be the focus of everything we do in travel.
It simply makes no sense to travel to a beautiful location and willingly leave it less beautiful after we leave. That applies in the short term but so much more so to the long-term impacts as well.
If you wouldn't go to a beautiful park and throw trash on the ground, why would you enjoy a beautiful vista and then contribute to the kind of behavior that would ensure future generations can't take in the same sight you just enjoyed?
These problems can seem so big. It might even feel like there is nothing you or I could do to change things for the better.
That couldn't be more incorrect.
Support travel companies that take sustainability and responsibility seriously. Ambercrombie & Kent above is a great example, but they are far from the only one. Enterprise is doing fantastic work supporting rivers and watersheds. Carnival is teaming with Shell to reimagine what it means to cruise in a sustainable way. Norwegian has been leading the way in that conversation for a long time.
You might not know it, but TravelPulse has been tracking this trend in the travel industry for a long time, and we're committed to telling the stories of companies both big and small who understand that we can travel in such a way that ensures our children and grandchildren can as well.
The travel community-from the largest supplier all the way down to the freshest-face travel agent-cannot afford to keep its head in the sand about climate change or tongues in our cheeks as we talk about it. This industry depends on travel being a sustainable, repeatable act, and our business ecosystem can't survive without the actual ecosystem which supports it in every way imaginable.
I promise you that there are those who are stepping up. Let's step up with them.
Michael Schottey is a freelance writer for TravelPulse. A professional writer and editor for over a decade, Schottey lives in...
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