Friday, January 26, 2007

Global Warming, How can we help?

Global Warming, how can we help?

I am from the UK, but currently living Slovenia. The country borders the Alps, and year we saw a winter snowfall of over metres. This year is a whole different story. Normally the temperatures would be below zero, but up until a few days ago it was 11 degrees in the capital, Ljubljana. It was so warm that we were still swatting flies in the flat here. I spent the other weekend photographing the Golden Fox women’s world cup slalom, which had to be moved from its usual location, Pohorje range in the east, due to a lack of snow and high temperatures making it impossible to even make artificial snow. The event was moved to Kranjska Gora, close to the Austrian border, but even then they had to use artificial snow to make the run.

I was personally woken up to the effects of global warming by an image at the world press exhibition here in Ljubljana of a polar bear on a small piece of ice, illustrating how the melting ice shelf is affecting their habitat. And if a report on how the polar bear’s habitat is under threat, and that they could die out, can make George W Bush admit there is a problem, clearly shows there is a problem! As a lover of animals, and especially bears, this has certainly made me think about it. I believe that to really make people aware of the of their actions, you need to hit them where it hurts. We all love animals, and if we can bring these beautiful creatures into people’s lives, show them how wonderful they are and that it would be a sad day for the human race if we are responsible for their destruction, then believe more people will start to think twice about it.

There are many simple things we can do to help. Here in Slovenia we didn’t wrap the Christmas presents, but put all presents in special Christmas bags that can be re-used.

I watch sky news here and am always exasperated by the British government’s attitude towards tackling global warming. Green taxes!!! The London congestion charge, tax on aviation, tolls on motorways!! What will the government do with all that extra revenue? use it to stuff up the hole in the ozone layer!! Or will it just line the pockets of Gordon Brown? The answer isn’t to charge or fine people for not recycling, you need to make it easier for them. I believe that a lot of people would like to recycle, but the only way to do it is to get in the car (more pollution) and drive down to their nearest recycling plant with bags full of recyclable rubbish that they’ve accumulated over the week or weeks to do their part. Firstly, most people don’t have the time and also don’t want the rubbish piling up outside their house. Secondly, people will only do things if it’s convenient. If you use the money to put the infrastructure in place so that people have separate bins outside their house for recycling, which will be collected weekly by the local council, just like the ordinary rubbish is, then people will only have to step outside their front door to recycle. If this happens, I believe more people will recycle.

As for penalising people for taking long-haul flights, the tourism industry would collapose as a result, which is one of the world's largest businesses and not only employs thousands, but brings much needed revenue into a country, especially the likes of third world countries. As a travel writer my job involves travelling. It's simply not possible to ask people not to take long or short flights. Increasing taxation on flying will only result in less people taking the flights and getting in the cars instead (I fail to see how this helps). The flights will still go, but with less people on board, consequently making this journey much efficient. The answer, I believe, is to find ways of making travel less polluting and more efficient. For example, LPG is a much cleaner fuel, but the cost of converting your car to a duel fuel system is extremely high, and you need duel fuel because LPG is not readily available at all petrol stations. Perhaps the government should start using the revenue from the green taxes and give out grants for people to convert their cars. If they did, I would be the first to take them up on it.

Ian Middleton
Travel Writer & Photographer
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Ian Middleton is a freelance travel writer and photographer from the UK. He is the author of three travel narrative books and one travel guide to ancient Ireland, Mysterious World: Ireland. Ian has also written for several magazines, including Mysterious World, backpacker Ireland, Walking World Ireland, Take your car UK and the Slovenia Times newspaper. Ian's photography has been published in Mysterious World: Ireland, Masa Acher magazine, Bradt Travel Guides and the Slovenia Times newspaper. For more information visit his website: