My learning outcomes in this course can be divided into two areas: the international component and the writing component. While these two spheres have overlapped throughout the course, and greatly complemented one another, the outcomes are indeed distinct.
As someone who travels whenever possible and loves to explore new places and cultures, the international aspect of this course was the most appealing to me when I registered for the class. After all, who doesn't find international tourism interesting? As it turns out, there are many more complex issues involved in international tourism than one might think.
We studied the fundamentals of the international tourism system and the complex web of relationships between tourists, local populations, infrastructure, government and business. We also studied sex tourism and the exploitation of children by sex tourists, safety issues for tourists, terrorism and environmental degradation.
One of the most interesting components of the international tourism system we studied was interpretation. When most people think of interpretation, they think of interpreting from one language to another. However, the interpretation we studied was regarding tour guides and others interpreting historical sites, natural landscapes, and other attractions to visiting tourists. The way in which a site is interpreted has an enormous influence on what the tourist learns and takes home with them. Interpretation is an art that should relate personally to the tourist, reveal the site in holistic and profound way, and provoke the tourist to engage in the site and its history.
Another aspect of international tourism we studied was "ecotourism" vs "eco-sell." We learned how to become smarter tourists and more responsible international ambassadors by learning criteria to assess tour providers. This allows us to determine whether a tour provider is actually operating a sustainable enterprise, or is just claiming to be "green" while damaging the environment or harming local populations.
With everything I learned this semester, I will certainly be a smarter tourist in the future. This will enable me to not only learn more form the places and people I am visiting, but it will allow me to contribute positively to the destination as well.
Regarding the writing component of this course, I feel that I have learned some concrete things about writing style that have already helped me. Two of the most important things I learned are simplicity and varying sentence lengths.
As a science major, I have spent most of my college career writing scientific papers and lab reports. Because of this, my writing can sometimes be stiff and complex. This course has made me aware of my tendency to use too many long sentences with complex structures. Now I am more likely to simplify complex sentences into several shorter, more readable sentences.
Another writing technique that I learned in this course was to vary sentence lengths. In addition to splitting up complex sentences, I learned that varying sentence lengths is a great way to get some "rhythm" in my writing. Reading similar length sentences over and over can get monotonous. This is especially true if the sentences are complex and wordy. Throwing in a shorter sentence here and there can help maintain interest. Even the occasional fragment!
In summary, this class was a great way to learn about the complex dynamics and contemporary issues involved in international tourism. At the same time, I was able to significantly improve my writing while researching and elaborating on subjects as engaging as international travel, social media campaigns, and environmental awareness.
This blog started out looking at the effects of ocean acidification on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. We learned about the chemical mechanism that causes atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase ocean acidity, and highlighted some eco-friendly tourism destinations that are attempting to minimize these effects. We also illustrated in a very real way how much carbon dioxide is produced when we burn fossil fuels.
Now it is time to talk about the most important aspect of carbon emissions and global climate change:
What YOU can do to help!
Here are five real world steps you can take today to reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Replace your outdated incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CF) or LED bulbs. This is especially important in Utah where nearly all of our electricity is generated by equally outdated fossil fuels:
2. Use alternative transportation. I'm not saying you have to sell your car and become a hard-core, year round bike commuter (although it is fun!). Taking the bus or train is one easy way to drastically cut down on your carbon emissions, especially when many city buses run on natural gas, which is more efficient than gasoline. If you happen to be a University of Utah student, this is even easier because a UTA bus and TRAX pass is included in your tuition every semester.
You are paying for it, you might as well use it!
3. When you are driving, try to choose a fuel efficient car and make sure its tires are inflated properly. As we saw in the last post, the fuel efficiency of your vehicle has an enormous impact on your carbon footprint. Each time you fill up with gas, check your tire pressure while you are waiting. Under-inflated tires greatly reduce your fuel efficiency.
If you participate in outdoor activities in Utah, you may find a four-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicle advantageous. Instead of a large truck or SUV, consider a small wagon or compact SUV, which get better mileage. If you don't actually need four-wheel-drive, a small, fuel efficient car is one of the best ways to drastically reduce your carbon footprint. Besides, who wants to look like a fool driving to the grocery store for a couple bags of groceries in a giant, empty 4x4 pick-up truck?
4. Install a programmable thermostat in your home. Energy used to heat a home is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Installing (and using!) a programmable thermostat is a great way to decrease the amount of natural gas you are using without an expensive furnace upgrade. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees during the times you are at home, and lower for when you are sleeping or away at work.
5. The simplest and most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to just not buy and use so much stuff in the first place! Many of the products we use are made of plastic, transported across the country or around the globe, used a few times and then discarded. One of the smartest ways to reduce this waste is to purchase quality products with a longer service life. Buying cheap, disposable goods over and over again pollutes the environment and the atmosphere every step of the way. Reconsider purchases and ask yourself these questions: do I really need this item? Am I saving a couple bucks in the short run, only to spend more buying a replacement when this one breaks? Can I find this item used in the local classifieds or Craigslist?
Remember the "three Rs" in this order of importance from highest to lowest: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
There you have it: five simple steps to reducing your carbon footprint, making our planet just a little healthier, and keeping the world's coral reefs alive and healthy!
This is a phrase you probably hear about regularly in the media, and maybe from your friends and family as well. But what does it really mean?
This blog post will explain your carbon footprint and what that amount of carbon means for the atmosphere. Most of us probably know by now that burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal and natural gas produces carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide then accumulates in the atmosphere and is absorbed into the ocean, trapping in the sun's heat and acidifying the ocean, respectively.
A person's "carbon footprint" is the amount of carbon dioxide gas produced by the activities of that person (or group of people), often in a certain amount of time. The amount of carbon dioxide is usually expressed in tons, but what does a ton of carbon dioxide look like? Since CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas, it is hard to picture.
Turns out, it looks like this:
That's a sphere 33 feet in diameter!
Most insurance companies estimate that the average American drives 12,000 miles a year. According to this handy carbon foot print calculator, that's 6.6 tons of CO2 per year for a passenger car that averages 20 mpg and 9.4 tons for an SUV at 15 mpg. Thats a lot of CO2 for each person!
Another interesting illustration of what a "carbon footprint" looks like in real life is this short video showing New York City's carbon emissions in a very graphic way:
Here's another powerful image from www.carbonvisuals.com that shows a typical cargo ship's CO2 emissions per day!
Clearly, our daily activities produce a huge quantity of carbon dioxide that is warming our planet year after year. While the changes in temperature aren't drastic, around 0.8 degrees centigrade over the past century, this could be enough to upset the delicate balance of the earth's climate. While we can't be certain of the potential effect this greenhouse warming might have on the planet in the future, do we really want to find out the hard way?
Now that we have taken a look at what a ton of CO2 is and what it is doing to our atmosphere and climate, it is time to think about some simple, realistic ways we can all cut down on our CO2 emissions. This will be the topic of the next blog post, see you soon!