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A Grey Area in Green Europe

I’m just back from a trip to the Czech Republic and still suffering from some serious jetlag, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. On the way across the pond I read a stat in Vanity Fair’s Green issue that seriously bummed me out: the U.S. will likely emit 19% more greenhouse gases by 2020 than it did in 2000. Meanwhile, our friends over in the European Union have committed to cut those emissions by 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels. Ouch! I’m pretty sure I winced visibly at that one.

The staggering difference in priorities reflected by those numbers made me wonder if I would see a major difference in the day-to-day eco-consciousness in Europe in comparison to the U.S. To be fair, I was coming from one of our country’s greenest cities to a country led by a man who recently said that government spending on global warming studies were a waste of money and who has compared environmentalism to communism (which, if you know anything about the anti-communist sentiment that pervades the Czech Republic, is a pretty brawny statement). So perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me when recycling bins were nearly impossible to find, or that there was a shocking number of massive SUVs bumping over the cobblestones despite the tiny streets upon which they have to maneuver. I can only hope that a country which loves beer as much as this one does might find the effects that the current multi-year drought are having on their barley crops at least mildly concerning enough to consider that climate change might have something to do with it.

The Race is On!

In an era where global warming is a hot topic, eco-conscious humans from Capitol Hill to the Bay Area encourage the use of energy efficient light bulbs, hybrid cars and recyclable materials. But an equally disturbing environmental threat (and one that doesn’t seem to get the press it deserves) is that of extinction. One endangered species is the leatherback turtle, and environmentalists are staging what is being called the Great Turtle Race to raise awareness and save these ocean dwellers before it’s too late.

Photo: Leatherback hatchling Copyright Noelle Rucinski.

Green on the Travel Scene

Unlike Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets, I don’t need a new bar of soap every time I wash my hands. Yet, over the course of my travels, I’ve probably abandoned hundreds of half-used hotel soaps and shampoo bottles, which is why I’m all for the new, more environmentally friendly trend of liquid shampoo and soap dispensers.

More and more, I’m seeing hotels asking guests to opt in to towel reuse programs, and I’m starting to see car rental companies add hybrid vehicles to their fleets. Some travel companies are greener than others, but it’s a refreshing new trend that many are incorporating green practices and technologies into their repertoire.

Earth Day, Earth Week

Earth Day is this coming Sunday, April 22nd and this blogging team thinks it’s pretty important. Why? Because everything feels different this year since the US Government is finally recognizing what some have long argued: that everything we humans do indeed has an impact on the environment. As a result, we’ve decided to honor earth day by devoting an entire week of our blog topics to green travel stories.

A good introduction to this topic is my column on this topic.

KT Tunstall Is A Huge Winner In My Book

If you ask me it’s a crime that KT Tunstall didn’t win the Grammy last night for best female pop vocalist. But no matter, she’s still a huge winner in my book. She’s sassy, sexy and sensational. If you haven’t heard her album Eye To The Telescope buy it immediately. You see, KT is not only a gifted songwriter with an amazing voice and creativity that rarely shines in the manufactured artists who top the charts these days but she also stands up for what she believes in.

What does any of this have with travel you ask? Actually, a lot. You see, KT Tunstall took a side-trip on her way to the Grammys to perform in Las Vegas at the Flamingo last week for a very special concert put together by Virgin and Travelocity.