March 19, 2006

Lonely Planet: "Oops we're wankers"

So the founders of Lonely Planet and Rough Guides (I don't know them so well, so I'm just going to refer to LP) have suddenly discovered they are horrible eco-terrorists. They've preached the word of travel, and have converted unsuspecting thousands to their world destroying ways.

Is it supplying nifty handbooks for all those child-sex-trade hotspots in south East Asia? Or Alerting European backpackers to yet another untouched pristine environment ripe for a touching up? (those two lines should NOT have followed each other) Maybe they accidentally added in all those endagered species made souveniers, medicines and delicacies as a must buy when your in the country (after all they're illegal back home, better buy two)? Or possibly just the tonnes of Amazon rainforest used to produce bloated edition after addition of addmittedly useful information that still is pretty much the opinion of some jerks with travel expenses scattered with some advertisement features?

No, its because they are making pollution from encouraging to many people to fly. That's right LP is feeling guilty because they've put the JET into JETsetter. But exactly how valid is this claim?
Do you buy a guidebook before you plan a trip, or to help you plan one you have your mind set on? Maybe the easy access of high quality musings might make trip-planning a bit easier, but I don't think it exactly changes your mind. Maybe it encourages Domestic air travel, but at least the Japanese guide has lots of information on trains, bicycles, boats and even a bit on hitchhiking. What sort of tourist (let alone backpacker) uses domestic travel anyway in a country that doesn't need it. I can really only think Australia, and African countries -- big spaces of absolutely jack shit to see (except sand, which is admittedly pretty, but still, your in the country for a short while) that you might just want to skip over.

So Lonely Planet is going to a bit more to encourage people to stay longer in a country at one time (don't take lots of short trips), more alternatives to air travel, remind people of the damage and supply friendly "guilt polish" -- if you do use unnecessary air travel, why don't you throw a few bucks to an aid organisation. This works on the same basis of using animal-tested products but adopting a homeless kitten (after all you might make your own stuff at home sometimes...)

Now comes the sucker punch, where these publishing head honchos just unzip and go "Ahh... that's the spot" for the media to record. Are they going to cut down on their flying? Nope. They feel guilty, of course, but fuck it, it's their job.

Says Lonely Planet Creator Tony Wheeler "I'm not going to stop [flying] but every time I jump on a plane I think, 'oh no, I'm doing it again". That sounds like bad habit addiction to me, Or at least just an twinge of arragant sociopathy. Do as I say not as as I do appears to be the motto in place.

But then again maybe the message is wrong in the first place.
We know cars produce greenhouse gas, and so we encourage people to not use cars. This makes sense. Buses produce gas too, infact more gases come from one bus than one (or maybe a few )car. Yet we don't tell people don't catch buses - in fact we tell them catch a bus - it's better for the environment. Buses ship lots of people.
So do planes. The Q116F from Sydney to Tokyo isn't going to not go off because I'm not on it. It's going to go with 1 person, or 20 people or 50 people - or possibly 10 people over capacity if they can get away with it. And so in fact - in the interest of ecological protection following the underlying principle of crapooling - you should aim to go on every affordable underbooked flight you can --- otherwise all that jet feul exhaust is going to kill koalas, frogs and endagered ear insects all over the world - and you didn't get Jack Schitt from it.



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