By Todd Smith
I began my travel career as a guide on the ultimate carbon neutral trip in Alaska - paddling and camping among glaciers, whales and bears in Glacier Bay National Park. As a long time naturalist and guide, especially in Alaska, I have witnessed first hand the effects that global warming and climate change are having on our planet. Glaciers are retreating, permafrost is melting, forests fires are more intense and entire ecosystems are affected. Regions such as Alaska, Antarctica, and the Amazon Rainforest are the first to feel the ecological implications of global climate change, though it affects us all.
I founded AdventureSmith Explorations to utilize expedition vessels to provide this same type of wilderness experience but with greater range and more comfort. Realizing that boats would impact our surroundings in different ways than kayaks alone I sought innovative ways to minimize our travelers' footprint. Small vessels are closed systems, much like a remote wilderness lodge, and are inherently low impact. A good crew is obsessive about recycling and efficiency because all waste is processed and stored on board. Our new partnership with Sustainable Travel International has provided a means to offset the carbon emissions created as a result of our cruises. Any responsible maritime engineer knows exactly how much fuel and oil his/her vessel is burning every hour, day and month. This makes it easy to calculate how much fuel and oil is burned per cruise and per passenger. Armed with this information our partners at STI calculate how many tons of CO2 are released as a result of our cruises and create and offset program to neutralize those emissions. STI's offset project portfolio includes solar collectors in Costa Rica, biomass energy in India and wind energy in Madagascar.
Sustainable development options, including more efficient vessels and alternative fuels are better for everyone in the long term, but there is simply not enough money or an incentive to change in the immediate future. Through our Carbon Free Cruising campaign we hope to educate our travelers about global warming while helping them reduce their own carbon footprint. We also hope to influence the cruise industry, which has remained relatively silent in terms of sustainable travel.