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Our Conundrum with International Travel

Updated: Jan 18



Carla and I are incredibly appreciative of the opportunities and life-enriching experiences that come with international travel. And, even with our undeniable love of travel, we are aware of its negative effects on the environment in a world where temperatures are rising and air travel accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions. We acknowledge the pressing need to address climate change and recognize the importance of adopting responsible behavior. Nevertheless, despite this awareness, we are not persuaded that abstaining from travel altogether is the only viable option for us.



From our standpoint, there’s another major worldwide issue that is as equally important and destructive as climate change . . . and it’s the widespread presence of fear and hatred which are at the root of the rise in racism, xenophobia, and intolerance across the globe. We strongly advocate for embracing diverse cultures, forging connections with people from different backgrounds, and broadening our perspectives as a means of counteracting the pervasive intolerance that seems to be prevalent in our modern world.



We recognize that travel alone cannot solve the widespread issues of fear and hate gripping the world. As two individuals, Carla and I, unfortunately, cannot singlehandedly change the course of global events. Despite the modest scale of our personal efforts, we believe in the power of individual contributions. We certainly don't claim to be saints or heroes; our aim is simply to connect with people from diverse backgrounds as we enjoy our global travels. Through these connections, we hope to make a positive impact, no matter how modest or seemingly insignificant it might be.



We make an effort to learn about the history, traditions, and the way of life of the people and places we explore and consider this a central and enriching aspect of our travels. We also strive to reciprocate by sharing our own culture and experiences when we can. We consider ourselves to be ambassadors in many ways, knowing that the people we meet will form opinions about our nation based on their interactions with us. Since individual connections and exchanges often result in change, we take these interactions very seriously, understanding that the world is shaped - one interaction at a time.



We also tend to stay in accommodations owned by locals, dine at nearby restaurants, and actively engage in the community.  Our journeys involve more immersion in the local culture. This not only ensures an authentic experience for us but also directly contributes to the local economy.



So, back to the issue of climate change. As conscientious travelers, we also actively support sustainable practices to minimize our environmental footprint. Carbon offsetting, by investing in emission-reducing projects like renewable energy initiatives, reforestation efforts, methane capture, and sustainable agriculture practices, has been our chosen method for the past few years.



In 2023, we took two wonderful trips to Europe and have decided to donate money to offset our travel carbon footprint by supporting three organizations that are committed to helping farmers in developing nations embrace more sustainable farming practices tailored to the evolving climate. In acknowledgment of the fact that the most economically challenged nations bear the heaviest impact of climate change, we have opted to allocate our donations accordingly.


Here are summaries of the organizations that we support:



Agros International is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and paving the way to prosperity for farming families in rural Latin America. Since its establishment in 1984, Agros has been at the forefront of holistic economic and social development, focusing on four key opportunity areas: land ownership, market-led agriculture, financial empowerment, and health and well-being. With a track record of collaboration with 45 rural communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, Agros has positively impacted the lives of over 20,000 people. The organization envisions a future where rural families experiencing poverty own agricultural land, achieve economic self-sufficiency, realize their inherent potential, and pass on values and resources for the flourishing of future generations.


Global Communities strives to create a lasting and positive impact on vulnerable communities by implementing agriculture practices that are resilient to climate changes and specifically target nutritional improvements. Through its programs, Global Communities assists farmers in enhancing food security, adapting to climate change, and mitigating its effects. The organization supports farmers in producing more dependable food sources, boosting incomes, acquiring productive assets, and achieving greater household stability and financial security. By providing farmers with access to knowledge, skills, inputs, and markets, along with continuous support for sustainable agricultural practices that are adapted to climate challenges, Global Communities aims to foster resilience and productivity in the agricultural sector.


The ZEITZ foundation envisions a thriving ecosphere, encompassing our planet and its life-sustaining regions, upheld in its healthiest state through the conscious choices of individuals. The foundation's mission is to initiate and support projects that advocate for an inclusive and holistic approach to conservation. These endeavors aim to enhance livelihoods, encourage intercultural dialogue, and yield enduring positive impacts, fostering sustainability.



On another note, in addressing the complexities of climate change, it is imperative to move beyond simply encouraging individuals to change their habits. While personal actions are important, governments and large organizations must be held responsible for their carbon footprint in order to bring about a substantial shift. The implementation of regulations, oversight, and even penalties for major polluters is essential. It is long overdue for those responsible for creating the issue to address it seriously, especially considering the commitment demonstrated by those most affected.



We believe that holding larger entities, such as governments and businesses, accountable is a more sensible and impactful strategy than portraying global travel as conflicting with the enriching advantages of interacting with diverse cultures. Engaging actively in a world that champions freedom from intolerance, prejudice, and hate empowers us to play a role in constructing a more peaceful and compassionate global community, all while broadening our own perspectives.

 

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8 Comments


Guest
Jan 19

Good article Simcha. We‘ve discussed this before, I think, but we try to offset by contributing annually into Rick Steves‘ Europe Climate Smart Fund

https://www.ricksteves.com/about-us/climate-smart/portfolio-report

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Simcha
Simcha
Jan 20
Replying to

Hi Mike . . . and I remember our earlier discussion, and appreciate that you and Regina prioritize mindful travel as well. We found Rick Steves' portfolio to be incredibly helpful. After reviewing his Climate Smart options, we chose our three selections based directly on his research. He's not only an intrepid traveler, but a very good man as well.

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Thank you so much for spelling out these issues for us! Your perspectives show how dedicated you and Carla are to spreading your beautiful light, not only through your travels and contacts with many diverse peoples, but also through your kindness and generosity in support of worthy organizations that are working to help our planet in various important ways. And, not least, the happiness and joy you both feel as your travel spread wonderful energy wherever you are! ❤️

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Simcha
Simcha
Jan 19
Replying to

Hi Sandra . . . and thank you for your beautiful and kind words. What you wrote means so much to us. It's always nice if what you love doing can intersect with actually making a difference. ❤️

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Guest
Jan 19

Thank you Simcha and Carla. You have raised a crucial concern, and I will share this with others. Btw, if other nations form their impression of the US based on their interactions with you and Carla, our country is bound to get stellar reviews! ! You guys are incredible, and Simcha, even though we have not met in person, he who is with Carla (😘),will be just as special as she is! Hope to see you both in AVL one day in the near future!


Kim Kushner

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Replying to

Thank you Kim! How kind of you! I hope you are enjoying your new life in Asheville! 🤗

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Guest
Jan 19

Thank you Simcha and Carla for enlightening us about important issues impacting the world. Your concern is shared and motivates me even more.

Jan

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Simcha
Simcha
Jan 19
Replying to

Thank you Jan. ❤️

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