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You Can Still Go On Holiday, But It's Time To Do It Sustainably

Air travel is booming despite the current climate debate. But vacationers have to rethink their summer breaks — not only for the environment, but also for the sake of people.

Should we go easy on vacations ?
Should we go easy on vacations ?
Jochen Temsch

OpEd-

MUNICH — "Urlaub," the German word for holidays, is a term that comes from 8th century High German and means "the permission to leave" and "the possibility to proceed at will" — this is what the Brothers Grimm's dictionary says. To date, this definition has changed little. Anyone who leaves their job for a few days and walks out of the mill of everyday life, wants to do as they please. For most vacationers, this means lying on a beach, relaxing and forgetting about all the problems that plague their everyday life for most of the year. And you can't blame them for wanting to do so. For most, however, the concerns surrounding humanity are waiting back at home along with the cat, a mailbox full of bills and the balcony flowers, that the neighbors should have cared for during the holidays.

This summer, this is particularly clear: The "Fridays for Future" demonstrations that took place over the past months, in which students protested for the climate, were closely followed by the big summer break for schools. Airlines are reporting record numbers of passengers. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), about 0.25 tons of carbon dioxide are generated per trip on a global average. Tourists contribute to 5% of all greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Where is the alleged flying shame, according to which people find it embarrassing to fly and therefore refrain from doing so? It seems not to be the case, since cheap airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet agree with the head of Lufthansa: The "Greta effect" in response to the environmental commitment of Swedish student Greta Thunberg is yet to become a reality.

Meanwhile, the price war in the sky is becoming increasingly absurd. A flight to Mallorca sometimes costs less than a pizza and a beer. Nothing about those trips is romantic anymore. The old traveler's saying "Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints" sounds naive today. When we think of footprints now we don't think of erasable tracks in the sand, but of CO2 in the atmosphere. The cheap travel battle cry "Nichts wie weg!" ("Cut and Run!") is ruthless in itself: there comes the claim to leaving, and for most, that's where it stops.

But it is worth it to take a closer look: young adults between the ages of 20 and 29, barely older than those who take to the streets on Fridays, take a plane to their holiday destination much more frequently than individuals over 40. However, the elders can not derive a morally higher claim from it. Theories suggests that older generations fly less because they have already traveled a lot in the past, while young people are still curious. The need to discover the world is more pronounced for many than environmental concerns. It is also desirable that people think outside the box and get to know other foreign cultures. The most dangerous of all worldviews is, as Alexander von Humboldt said, the view of those people who have never looked at the world.

Tourists contribute to 5% of all greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the world, and many countries depend on it. Sustainability is not just ecological, it also has social components. In addition to environmental friendliness, the world also needs philanthropy. At best, vacationers bring prosperity, an improved infrastructure, maybe even a bit more stability and peace. In the worst cases, they leave behind environmental damage, the disruption of everyday life and social injustice, because not all locals benefit equally from their visit. In any case, global problems are not going to be solved by keeping everyone at home.

"Greta Thunberg is yet to become a reality" — Photo: Markus Spiske

The central question is therefore not: Can I still go on holiday? But: How should I go on vacation? Despite all the political instruments, from the petrol tax to the CO₂ emissions, which are currently being measured, the behavior of the individual remains crucial: vacationers have to rethink how they spend their money, just like supermarket customers.

Similar to the increased demand for organic products or the decline in meat consumption for many, there are also opportunities in tourism. People do not have to take a long-distance trip every year, and rather than flying for a long weekend, it is better to travel for several weeks at a time. Holidaymakers can also compensate for flights and look for socially and environmentally certified homes that save water and pay personnel fairly. For this there are quality seals in travel catalogs, as they exist for chocolate or coffee.

Those traveling in small groups treating their hosts as equals, booking with local organizers and staying in small guesthouses help local families instead of international tourism companies. Then, holiday-goers recover and relax, but the world is also damaged less.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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