Impact Of Travel On Culture And The Environment

1890 words - 8 pages

Impact of Travel on Culture and the Environment

Travel and mobility play indispensable roles in our lives as modern Americans. Their largest impacts are seen within cultural realms: airplanes, automobiles, trains, and, to a lesser extent, boats allow fast and easy transportation to virtually all parts of the world. Such easy access to the inhabited portions of the planet has facilitated face to face meetings with family, friends, and colleagues living in distant parts of the world; the ability to move quickly and efficiently from home to work or school; and the ability to visit exotic locations for brief, recreational purposes. Usually, these cultural aspects of travel are the most salient when the subject is suggested. Yet, the environment is also a significant factor that deserves consideration during a discussion of travel. For instance, the environment may be the predominant factor when making a decision to travel: one might escape to the beaches of Florida during a snowy winter in Boston, or one might choose to visit the beautiful mountains of Colorado or an exotic South American rainforest in order to flee the less than thrilling flatlands of the American Midwest. The environment also brings to bear considerable influence during the process of travel. For instance, a flight may be canceled because of a summer storm, or local roads may become impassable during a blizzard. Finally, the process of travel itself greatly impacts the environment. Airplanes and automobiles produce large amounts of harmful air pollutants each time they make a single trip, and the gases they emit have played a significant role in expanding the hole in the ozone layer and increasing global warming. The air pollution has also negatively impacted numerous species of plants and animals that depend on clean air for survival. Boats can also cause much harm to the environment. Recently, an article on cnn.com (see link below) described how authorities in Monterey, California had banned a cruise ship from landing there because its crew had admitted to dumping 36,000 gallons of bilge water into the bay. The potential harm of such an act to the local marine life in the bay is considerable. This event, though not nearly as catastrophic to the environment, recalls the disaster of the Exxon Valdez, the oil tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989 (see link below for an account of the tremendous damage caused to the local environment). Though these are all modern examples of the interactions among travel, culture, and environment, evidence of these associations can be found in the history of the "Age of Exploration," when Europeans explored and conquered the New World of the Americas during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the expansion of textile production, and the development of triangular trade among Europe, the New World, and Africa.

The overall impact of European exploration of the New World is acutely felt...

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