Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bio Gem of Costa Rica

We at Earth Explore are excited to be expanding our programs south in 2010, to the rich and environmentally important nation of Costa Rica.  Home to critical world biomes, Costa Rica is beautiful and educationally rich.  But it is also much more than simply a showplace of luxuriant tropical life.

In a place blessed with such a rich array of nature's splender, something rather unusual in human history has taken place.  This small nation has taken aggressive steps to lock it's jewels away from rampant and uncontrolled development...the kind that has despoiled environmental treasures in too many other places.  The nation has been aggressive in promoting sustainability...and hopes to become the world's first carbon neutral nation.  National Reserves and Parks, many arising from, or supported by private donations, have sprung up everywhere.  There is a push for eco friendly development and tourism; very good signs for the future.

But the picture is not all rosy.  Pressures to open coastlines to oil and gas exploration and drilling, and exploit virgin rainforest for timber and mining are ramping up.  All too easily, this small nation could be directed down the path seen so often in the tropics; of slash and burn and quick profit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has named Costa Rica a world Bio Gem...and is encouraging action to keep it safe, wild, and beautiful.  We believe sustainable tourist development and visitation can help to provide a solid economic base to counter the lure of quick profit through exploitation of natural resources.

What do you think?  If you're interested in the issue, go and learn more about the NRDC's Bio Gems, by visiting http://www.savebiogems.org/costarica/


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being versus Doing

The latest Ken Burns documentary on our National Parks, coming out this month, got me thinking about the whole concept of being versus doing. Burns makes a good point when describing why our National Parks and other natural places are in trouble. Basically it boils down to this; it is way too easy these days to live a virtual life, but not even perceive that you're missing out.

You know what I mean. We tend to live online, or somehow plugged in. It takes less effort to view pretty pictures on a screen than to go out and experience them live. And there are advantages. Can't fly to Thailand? Visit there virtually by web cam. Can't visit a friend? Text or chat with him online. By the way, I'm all for most of that, because it connects us and informs us about the world that is out there...and let's face it, we can't all travel everywhere we want.

No, the danger of being, and not doing is different. It is when we come to believe that by simply being, we're getting all the benefits of doing. Burns argues, and rightfully I think, that we loose our commitment to protect precious things when we don't experience them in the real sense. A virtual experience of Yosemite may make us happy, but will it drive us to actively oppose the interests that would like to reduce natural places to open pit mines, or amusement parks?

The fear is that without enough of us getting active in the out of doors, we lose the constituency needed to watch over, and protect our wild places. Without use, spectacular trails and vistas become less important to us as a whole, and more likely to be bulldozed and widened for timber access.

One thing is clear. There is no going back in our devotion to and fascination with technology and entertainment. We will only get more wired and more plugged in in the future. The marketing giants that give us weekends of football and beer, of vicarious experiences of all sorts, are not going away.

The question is, will emerging factors like the global climate crisis create a tipping point...a point at which we choose to put away our virtual experience of the world for just long enough to rediscover the real world in its actual, and not virtual, splendor.

Granted, doing so takes a bit of effort, and sometimes a drive or a hike, but it is worth it. Whenever I see a 20 something with a kayak or bike on her roof heading somewhere...I become optimistic. Change may be in the air. And that change is so necessary to create and maintain the "constituency" Burns describes; the army of those who appreciate and use natural places, and who through collective action, will keep the world's great places not just flickering on our web cams, but in our actual experience.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Excitement for 2010

Is eco consciousness going mainstream? It looks that way, with new planet-friendly products appearing on the shelves everyday, and a new, heightened awareness of our human impact on Planet Earth being expressed by former skeptics. We applaud it. It seems change is in the air and it's a refreshing breeze!

Coming off one of our most successful summers ever, change is also in the air at Earth Explore, and I and the rest of my colleagues are tremendously excited about the coming season. Already we're planning new programs, most notably an incredible eco adventure to Costa Rica, which includes thrilling adventure along with our primary focus of the study of marvelous and fragile places on Planet Earth. We're lining up the world's best partners, and we'll study biodiversity in the lush rainforest, go up into the canopy for a close look, snorkel and kayak in pristine reefs that are now beginning to feel the effects of climate change, and enter volcanic preserves.

All of this meshes well with our mission of getting young people energized about Planet Earth, and excited about its future.

By the way, go online to earthexplore.com where the latest pictures from this past summer's adventures are now being posted. And drop us a line about the new Earth Explore website. We've made it more user friendly, more graphic, and hopefully, also more informative!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scenes from the Summer




Myself and the rest of the EE staff are still checking out pictures from this past summer's adventures. The photo contest winners will be posted soon. For now though, here are a few scenes I'd like to share. These kids will be going forward with a new understanding of the importance of the Earth's fragile environments, and their own power to make positive change.

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