James Davenport Transportion (Past, Present and Future)

22Aug/19Off

The Galapagos Islands and Climate Change (Small Actions Matter)

Have you ever heard the phrase, “every little bit helps?” It is a shame there are things we want to accomplish but we get discouraged because certain goals seem insurmountable. We may not realize that some of the things we already do may help reach that goal.  For instance, I got back from a trip to Galapagos Islands a few months ago. And as I was thinking about the trip, it occurred to me that the Galapagos Islands are like a naturalist paradise. As we make commitments to address climate change (big or small), we are moving closer to the goal of reaching a naturalist paradise of our own.

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In looking as something as insurmountable as resolving climate change, it’s always a good idea to break a goal down to various phases or parts and strive toward intermediate steps of success. Even if solving climate change seems to be unrealistic, the various steps one can take to help reach that goal is not unrealistic.

One good example of this in the transportation world is  the “Vision Zero” campaign. I remember when it was called “Toward Zero Death” way back when. The idea is to set a goal of achieving no traffic fatalities and serious injuries from car crashes over a certain number of years. One’s first reaction is that it is an unattainable goal. OK, but then you tell me if there is a group of people whose life we can accept losing on the highway or local streets, since this goal is so “unattainable?” Could that be your wife/husband or significant other, child, parent, good friend, even an acquaintance? You can’t really identify someone to fit into that particular group. So we set about working with key partners and stakeholders to redesign dangerous intersections, install traffic calming devices such as roundabouts, reduce the speed limit, install pedestrian road crossings, etc. We may not reach the ultimate goal but we will probably see success in reducing traffic fatalities.

Again, the Galapagos Islands are a place where humans and animals live mostly in perfect harmony in the natural environment. If that is the ultimate goal of completely addressing the impacts of climate change, any steps toward doing that is well worth it.

My trip to the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador in South America, was in the early part of May, 2019. We visited the islands of North Seymour, Bartolome, Rabida, Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, and Santa Crua. I was excited to see many species of plants and animals and had various opportunities to see them both on land and in the water. I will also say that some of the islands had very little transportation infrastructure, if any at all. In other words, I didn’t experience any rush hour unless you count the group of Orcas we saw one morning as we crossed the equator on the fourth day of our trip.

 

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I went on this trip with my sisters Virginia and Karen and my brother-in-law Stephen. I had no idea what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised with the sights and the activities of this trip, and will always remember it. We were able to witness nature whether from a shoreline tour on a zodiac boat, snorkeling along some of the inlets, doing a short hike along some of the natural trails and beaches or kayaking along the shores. One thing I like about traveling is being able to share my experiences with friends and colleagues. And boy did I take many pictures.

I won’t kid you, Galapagos has had its own issues in the past in which humans have introduced invasive species that have threatened the islands. But many foresighted naturalists and scientists have been able to mitigate some of those impacts, preserve the Islands and closely manage human interaction through limited tours. The wildlife is so used to visitors they don’t view humans as a threat and rarely scatter when you approach them. Nothing like being up-close and personal with a Blue Footed Boobie. Or a Sea Lion.

In fact, when we arrived at the hotel in Guayaquill, Ecuador and as we were about to take the trip from Ecuador to the islands, we were issued a transit control card. This card was given to all of us and was issued by the Government Council for Galapagos as a measure towards “sustainable human development and conservation of the Galapagos Islands.” I looked at the card as similar to a permit to enjoy the entire this natural paradise while at the same time maintaining its integrity and natural beauty.

What can this trip teach us about the importance of climate change? Whether you believe in the impacts of human behavior on climate or not, any action you take or day-to-day practice you follow that helps reduce the carbon footprint is a good thing. It surely doesn’t hurt.

Now, I am not pushing major policies, such as Cap and Trade, that are being hotly debated right now. It is clear to me we will have to make critical decisions in the future and we need to understand what are the ramifications of action and inaction in addressing climate change.

For the sake of this blog, I just want to point out that you yourself may already be doing your part in addressing climate change. Whether you carpool to work over driving alone, or compost food scraps instead of throwing it out into a landfill, recycle cans and bottles, walk to the store instead of drive, we are all doing our share to maintain natural integrity of our environment as best we can. Can we reach the ultimate goal of a Galapagos Islands in your neighborhood? Of course not, but in these actions, we are doing our small part in making the world a little more sustainable and a little more pleasant to live. We are helping to preserve our environment for future generations.

By the way, my favorite part of the trip was the last day when we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station, located near Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, to see the big turtles.

We went to the center not only for the big turtles, but to see how the station raises young giant tortoises and then releases them into the wild. We saw some of the small turtles in their pens. This program is run in conjunction with the Galapagos Park Service. Since 1970, more than 2,000 tortoises have been hatched, raised and released. Later we went to a nature preserve in Puerto Ayora and were able to see the large turtles in their natural habitat. Again, we were able to be with the turtles, up-close and personal.

 

Written by nspiregreen on August 21.

 

 

 

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