Tag Archives: enviornment

Mass tourism’s devastating impact

When we look at all of the problems facing humanity and the environment , including nuclear radiation from Fukushima, oil spills, toxic chemicals, GMO contamination of our food supply, overcrowded cities,  polluted groundwater, fracking, and EMF pollution,  mass tourism’s effect on the environment  seems a minor one in comparison. But its impact-on native cultures, ancient ruins,  and natural landscapes- is significant and governments need to rethink their policies in regard to this.

Many thoughtful observers, especially older ones who have seen the impact that tourism has wrought on famous sites  over the last three decades, have bemoaned the degradation. If you were lucky enough to visit Angkor Wat fifteen years ago, Koh Phi Phi twenty years ago, Bali twenty five years ago, or Machu Picchu thirty years ago, consider yourself lucky. As many distraught and disheartened travelers have noticed  ,  those once semi-pristine places have been irrevocably changed, for the worse. We could, of course, add dozens more to this list. Chambers of commerce, travel agents, tour operators, and hotel owners try their best to put a positive spin on the changes, using phrases like ‘more choice,’ ‘superior accommodations,’ ‘better infrastructure,’ ‘reliable transportation,’  and so on, but it’s just the same old public relations. No honest observer, comparing any of those places today with how they were thirty years ago, would choose today’s version. What good is a five star hotel when you are looking out from your balcony onto a beach strewn with trash and covered with thousands of tourists,  tossing their plastic water bottles onto the sand and taking selfies with a selfie stick?

Mass numbers of tourists tend to have a corrosive and corrupting effect on small  ethnic tribes, regardless of how respectful the tourists try to be. Take the Sacred Valley of Peru, for instance. As the millions of tourists wind their way around the ancient ruins in tour buses, the local Quechua speaking people wait dutifully for them at the rest stops so that the tourists can snap a photo with them, along with the family’s alpaca.  We, the tourists, are supposed to give them  a small donation as a gesture of thanks for the photo-op. What could be more cynical than this? This scene is repeated at hundreds of other places all over the world. Many ethnic tribes which have adopted modern Western clothing will don their native garb when the tour bus rolls into town and throw it off the minute  the buses pull away. Many ethnic groups now rely on the small amount of money they earn performing for tourists, enacting ‘traditional’ dances and such.

The impact on relics and ruins is substantial as well. The Cambodian government has allowed tourists to scamper, unsupervised,  all over the ruins of Angkor Wat for decades now. It wasn’t a big deal when only a few thousand people even knew about Angkor, but today when the tens of millions descend upon the ruins yearly, the impact is far greater.

If you are going to invite millions of tourists to visit a place, then you need to build the infrastructure to feed and house them. Hence, surrounding areas are methodically stripped of forest cover and natural ground cover  in order to construct hotels, resorts, restaurants and boutiques to serve the masses. Siem Reap, the small city adjacent to Angkor Wat, was a sleepy village just twenty years ago. Now, it is a mini boom town and new hotels are sprouting up every year. Meanwhile, the water table underlying the city is falling rapidly and could affect the ruins themselves in a short time. Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu, has grown in proportion to the exploding numbers of visitors to that popular site. There is not much room for it to grow except into the surrounding mountains, which contain some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.



The global tourism industry has now grown so large, producing  billions of dollars in profits and supplying millions of jobs, that it now  generates its own momentum, just as a  hurricane makes its own weather. It’s not like you can just slam on the brakes and say ‘no more.’  One billion people now travel annually. With the Chinese market growing by leaps and bounds, we can expect this trend of increasing tourist numbers to continue into at least the near future.

Everyone who has been to an overcrowded holiday destination recognizes the problem, but nobody is willing to give up their dream or change their lifestyle because of it. People who have the means and the opportunity want to experience Paris and the Eiffel Tower. We now accept the fact that we must ‘experience’ Paris  while rubbing shoulders with a few million other tourists, all visiting the same sites,  taking the same photos, staying at the same hotels and eating the same food. Most of us accept this as a minor irritation  to be endured for the privilege of seeing such a spectacular place.



I’ve never been to Paris but I suppose it might be possible for the city to absorb all these tourists without crimping its style and still offer a worthwhile  experience. The same goes for Venice, Florence, Rome and Barcelona. Strong government regulations and a solid tourist infrastructure can mitigate at least some of the negative impacts.

When we look at other popular sites located much further away from major population centers, in developing countries, and with inadequate infrastructure, the problems become more severe and the solutions considerably more complex. In the rush to milk the tourist cow, governments and corporations tend to cut many corners with building codes, safety regulations, and historical preservation.


Floodwaters washing away overdevelopment at Aguas Calientes, Peru:


In fact, governments, which comprise mostly bureaucrats, technocrats, and functionaries, are generally clueless about how to deal with the demands of tourism. There are exceptions to the rule, Thailand being one. Here in Viet Nam, the apparatchiks in the government could learn a thing or two from their neighbors. Many tourists associate Viet Nam with Ha Long Bay, the most iconic site in the country. Unfortunately, Ha Long Bay has become a poster child for the disastrous effects of unregulated mass tourism. Thousands of tour boats ply the waters there, accommodating the millions who want to see the stunning landscape. The boats, alas, are mostly unsupervised  and dump their waste and trash directly  into the bay which suffers accordingly. If that’s not bad enough, tourists are accosted by  rude, pushy,  and obnoxious vendors when the boats pull ashore. And the government does nothing.

Where does all this depressing news leave the curious traveler? If you don’t want to be part of the problem, is it better to just stay home? Do eco-tourism, ‘responsible’ tourism, or volunteering offer more authentic experiences? They’re definitely worth exploring. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, then don’t count on finding it at a place like Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat. I feel fortunate to have visited both of these places, but I can only dream about what it would have been like to experience them without the hordes. Perhaps there are those people who are able to block out the distraction of other tourists, but I’m not one of them. Imagine what secrets these awesome places might whisper in our ears if only we had the peace and solitude to listen.

I wouldn’t discourage anyone from visiting these places. Any experience of Machu Picchu or Angkor is better than no experience at all, but my recommendation of these places comes with a heavy qualification.





It’s the chemtrails, stupid

Back in 2008,  I moved from rural Northern California to Portland, Oregon. A month after arriving, I suddenly became quite ill with a ferocious hacking cough which wouldn’t relent even for a minute. I had never coughed like that in my entire life. I couldn’t manage to clear my throat or take anything to soothe it, even temporarily.  In desperation, I walked a few blocks to the nearest hospital and checked myself into the emergency room. The kindly physician informed me that I had ‘walking pneumonia,’ likely caused by the recent spell of cold and damp weather. He gave me medicine and inhalers to provide symptomatic relief. It took nearly a month to completely clear myself of symptoms.

A year later, I moved up north to Seattle. During the two years that I lived there, I continually experienced a variety of unusual symptoms which I had never had  before, including burning, watery  eyes, constant thick yellow mucus- often tinged with blood- and irritability. The obvious culprits-allergies caused by pollens, dust etc. and smog related pollution- didn’t seem to fit the bill.

Now I live in a large city in Southeast Asia. I recently got over a persistent and relentless cough which lasted for a month. When I described my symptoms to colleagues, many of them informed me that they were experiencing the exact same thing. I heard comments such as, “It’s the damnedest thing. I can’t figure it out.” And “I’ve never had anything like this before.”

I believe there is a common link to these stories. I don’t think I had walking pneumonia in Portland, allergic reactions in Seattle or acute sensitivity to smog and motorbike exhaust here in Viet Nam. I think in all three cases that I was suffering from acute poisoning from chemtrail residue. All three of the cities where I have recently lived have been heavily sprayed with chemtrails , often on a daily basis. In Portland and Seattle, the spraying would typically  start in the late morning and reach a crescendo in the late afternoon when I experienced my symptoms.

A story recently posted on ZenGardner’s website goes into some detail the theory of Dr. Leonard  Horowitz who states that the American population is being deliberately poisoned and made sick by elements within the U.S. government. The article is well worth reading.

Dr. Horowitz says that the large numbers of people being admitted to hospital emergency rooms with upper respiratory infections do not have a ‘mystery flu’ or walking pneumonia. Doctors are misdiagnosing these people. What’s really happening is a massive campaign of poisoning from the upper atmosphere. Planes are spraying the populations, like insects, with ethylene dibromide, which is mixed into the jet fuel. This causes a general immune suppression in the population. The weakened populace are then susceptible to opportunistic infections, such as micoplasmas which have been patented by the U.S. military and its biological warfare division.

The theory made sound like a wild conspiracy to the uninitiated, but after you’ve studied the modus operandi of the moneyed elites and the occultists who run this world, it sounds perfectly plausible. Chemtrailed skies are now a daily occurrence, both here and in most countries of the world. It is the ‘new normal’ and few even bother to comment on it anymore. Humanity has seen the last of pristine blue skies and we have not even bothered to mourn.

The sheeple may not bother to look up or to care what is happening over their heads, but these respiratory infections will only increase in number.  The medical establishment will find it increasingly difficult to continue diagnosing everybody with the ‘flu.’



2014 warmest year on record- the IPCC and Al Gore are back!

Last week, news headlines from the corporate press informed us that 2014 was ‘the warmest year on record.’ Along with this headline came the predictable  article : global warming is proceeding apace, the earth is inexorably heating up and the skeptics have been proven wrong. To say that articles such as the one written by Justin Gillis for the New York Times on January 16th are predictable is an understatement. They are written from a script. A template. All the writer has to do is fill in the year and a few updated quotes and he has his article ready to go to print. It’s laughable.

We’re informed in the first paragraph of the NYT article that records have only been kept since 1880, not even a blink of an eye in geologic history. Yet, we are supposed to ignore that fact when scientists make grand claims about ‘hottest ever.’  Mr. Gillis also tells us that this data undermines claims by ‘contrarians’ who dispute the anthropogenic global warming theory. I don’t think he means ‘contrarian’ in a nice way. When the IPCC, UN, and other NWO organizations take off the gloves, they often refer to doubters as ‘deniers,’ thereby attempting to link them with ‘holocaust deniers’ in the public’s mind.

Gillis continues by giving some random facts about heat records last year in the continental United States, caused by ‘the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human activity and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and nature.’ Scared yet?



After  1998 when Earth experienced its hottest year of the century, many climatologists, especially those in the IPCC,  told us that Earth was going to get continuously hotter, and this was due to mankind dumping ever increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.  Well, the amount of CO2 continues to rise, but temperatures have not risen at all over the last 15 years. Scientists are ‘struggling’ to explain this strange trend, which goes against all of their models. And don’t forget ‘climategate’ from 2009 when leaked emails from scientists blew a big hole in the whole IPCC global warming theory. You’d think that the IPCC and Al Gore would admit defeat  and go back to the drawing board. But no. They were right all along, and we – the skeptics- were wrong. Got it?

According to John R. Christy, a scientist at the University of Alabama, the increase in 2014 was only a few hundredths of a degree, well within the margin of error. But Mr. Gillis is quick to remind his readers that Mr. Christy represents only a ‘handful’ of skeptics, and that the ‘vast majority of those who study the climate’  say the earth is in a long term warming trend.’  Links and sources are of course nowhere to be found.

And how about those recent crazy dips in the jet stream which have brought ‘Arctic vortexes’ and other anomalies to the United States? Those are  caused by global warming too! Mr. Gillis makes no mention whatsoever of HAARP, geo-engineering, or chemtrails.  How odd. Does he never step outside his NYT office and look up at the sky? Actually, if he dared to mention those terms in a NYT article, he’d be out of job overnight. Also not mentioned anywhere in the article is the sun. Seeing as how the sun determines just about everything regarding earth’s climate, you’d think it would be worth a mention.


As a send-off, Mr. Gillis ends his article by giving kudos to his buddy, former mayor of New York and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is ‘spending tens of millions of dollars of his personal fortune to battle climate change.’ Really? How is Mr. Bloomberg ‘battling’ climate change? More PR garbage. The guy is worth, officially, 36 BILLION dollars. Ten or twenty million is pocket change to him.




Exploited construction workers and the headlong rush to globalization

The term ‘third world’ has been disappearing gradually from the academic and political lexicon. The term used to denote those countries around the world which were in the bottom tier of GDP, per capita income, infrastructure, and development. Nowadays, the term has been replaced with ‘developing country.’  It’s an interesting choice of words. It implies, of course, that every country in the world now is developing, or wants to develop, in the model of the modern, industrialized countries. It’s either ‘industrialize quickly and catch up’ or perish into obscurity and irrelevance. Or so the thinking goes amongst the elected leaders of such countries.

This desire to develop and rapidly industrialize among former third-world countries has numerous effects and repercussions, almost of them negative. Sure, numbers such as the GDP, which economists and politicians always love to point to, show a spike, though this is usually short term. Overly expensive mega projects often spring up, putting struggling governments into debt. Skyscrapers and office buildings sprout  in the big cities and new highways and dams are constructed as well.

For the population of developing countries, outside of a tiny percentage at the top of the political and social hierarchy who work the system to their benefit, this process of rapid development is a disaster. Rivers, canals, lakes, waterways, coastline, water tables, topsoil, forests, and the air are sacrificed in the rush to build factories and power stations. This damage is often irreparable. Humans who are enticed to work in the new industries of factory work and construction are treated like slaves, as disposable as tissue paper.

Viet Nam is a perfect example. Its cities are booming, particularly Ho  Chi Minh City in the south. Office and apartment buildings are going up everywhere. Construction cranes are a ubiquitous sight. Almost every street within the city limits has at least one building being constructed, renovated or demolished to make way for a new one.

If there’s one word that I associate with development, it’s ‘concrete.’ Construction sites everywhere have either the  portable concrete mixing machines or the large trucks at the bigger sites. And to make concrete you must have cement. And to make cement you must havoc cement factories. For those unfortunate villagers who live on the fringes of cities where most cement factories are located, life is hell. For 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they must put up with choking dust and pollution being emitted from these factories, which must continually make cement to feed the voracious appetite of the booming economy.

Hundreds of thousands of young men work in the construction industry here, the vast majority of them first generation city dwellers who grew up poor farmers. They are ruthlessly exploited by the construction contractors and sub-contractors. Outside of a few large foreign firms which actually enforce some basic safety regulations, most workers work and live day to day with no safety net whatsoever. Hardhats are nowhere to be seen.  Workers spend their days toiling in the hot sun with cheap plastic flip-flops or bare feet. They are often shirtless and wear shorts. When they work indoors where dust, chemicals and paint are omnipresent, they wear a cheap throwaway mask, if anything.

I pass by dozens of construction sites daily, and I see workers doing backbreaking work with no thought given to their welfare. They are often splattered from head to toe with paint and dust. Most have nowhere to live and throw a hammock up on the site to sleep overnight. Their wage of $5 USD a day affords them nothing more than a couple bowels of noodles and pork. If an accident happens onsite, they are on their own. Their employer is not responsible for injury.

Most have received no training  for their jobs, and just learn by watching others and practicing each day. Hence, shoddy work is the norm, not the exception. I have seen a number of paint jobs where workers left the house or building with numerous globs and specks of paint on the furniture and appliances. Substandard work is accepted.

Dirt poor farmers fleeing their miserable existence in the countryside to move to the city in hopes of finding a better life is not a new story. Nevertheless, I still marvel at the pull that cities, and ideas like ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’ exert on the human mind. To merely trade in one form of backbreaking toil for another hardly seems like a step up to me. Furthermore, these itinerant workers are cut off from their families and communities, the very social networks that are so crucial for human happiness and fulfillment.

These young men will work in construction for perhaps ten or twenty years at most. Working past 40 simply will not be physically possible for most. They will likely have a lifetime of back problems to look forward to after they quit. Many will die of cancer before they hit 60, due to the enormous amounts of dust and chemicals which they inhale daily, poor diets and the two packs of cigarettes per day which they all smoke.

A local glossy magazine which is marketed to tourists and expatriates is sitting on my desk. It features  a profile of a 40-year-old construction worker. ‘Quang’ shares some information and thoughts about his life working construction jobs around Hanoi. After stating that he earns 100,000 VND (US $5) a day, he says matter-of-factly, “That kind of money just isn’t enough.” No kidding. What’s interesting to me is how that quotation just sort of hangs there, with no follow up question and no elaboration. If it’s not enough, why does he continue? Does he have any thoughts about who, or what, is exploiting him? Has he ever thought of complaining , or asking for a raise? Going on strike is unknown in Viet Nam and workers here have no ‘worker consciousness’ whatsoever. People accept their lot without question.

It’s a tragedy and it doesn’t have to happen. Yet it does, and not just here in Ho Chi Minh City, but also in Lima, Sao Paulo, Phnom Penh, Dubai, Quito, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and dozens of other developing cities all around the world.

cement factory:



Humanity has drunk the kool-aid of ‘progress’ and the headlong rush into the future ensues. The few remaining hunter and gatherer tribes are being uprooted along with nomadic and traditionally pastoral peoples. We’re all going to be yuppies now, living in high-rises with beautiful children and driving brand new shiny cars. Except that we’re not, of course. The split between marketing and reality is as stark as ever.  Every time a new apartment high rise is completed, giant billboards show a plastic looking couple sitting in their spotless (and soulless) living room with their oh-so-happy  children.

Earth used to be comprised of thousands and thousands of ethnic groups, each living in its own unique style, with their own dress, customs, religions, social structures and habits. Now, ‘globalization’ is the meme that is shoved down our throats, and everyone wears the same clothes bought from the same multinational corporations, talks the same, looks the same, and acts the same.  People willingly give up their traditional lives to move to cities and join the madness, thinking that they can purchase some toys, and with them, some happiness. It doesn’t happen and they end up sick and disillusioned.


Why I won’t touch farm-raised (Atlantic) salmon

The oceans are under duress from overfishing and pollution. Global fish stocks are in steep decline. The price for high quality fresh fish continues to increase at the same time that more and more studies are coming out showing the demonstrable benefits of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. People want fish for the delicious taste and the health benefits and are willing to pay for it, even though there may be serious questions regarding the whole industry.

S_I_FIG1The demand for salmon especially has remained high as it has been shown to have some of the highest levels of precious, brain boosting omega-3. Hence, where there is demand, a supplier will work to meet that need. Our stores are filled with frozen and fresh salmon, restaurants and sushi bars all feature salmon on their menus and it appears that supply is meeting demand.

There is just one problem. The vast majority of that salmon, over 90 percent, is farm-raised. Most of the supply is currently coming from Norway and Southern Chile. It is usually labeled as ‘Atlantic Salmon.’ It is rarely labeled as farm-raised. Even if it were labeled as such, it is doubtful that most consumers would know what that means, or care.


When I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999, I started to eat wild salmon fished out of the the Northern Pacific Ocean off the California, Oregon and Washington coasts and from Alaska. I gradually started to eat it more and more and during the fishing season when you could buy it fresh for seven or eight dollars a pound, I would eat it two or three times a week. I noticed the effects on my health from eating a  regular diet of fresh salmon. I felt more energized and happy, and my hair, skin and nails had a healthy glow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI became curious about the history of the Native Northwest cultures and their ancient relationship to salmon, reflected in their art, traditions, songs and rituals. I studied how salmon had sustained entire tribes for millennia. I learned about the science and biology of the fish and their amazing ability to swim for thousands of miles into the ocean and return to their original breeding ground. I read about the history of dam building in the American West and the devastating impacts of dams on salmon populations.

fish artThe ancient and recent history of the Pacific Northwest is so intertwined with the story of salmon that numerous books have been written about it. Sometimes people I meet wonder why I am so passionate about salmon and so vehemently against farm-raised salmon. A salmon is a salmon is a salmon, right?

No! Unfortunately, many consumers around the world have no education regarding what they are eating and restaurant owners, fish market sellers and others are trying to protect their bottom line. As far as they are concerned, the consumers’ ignorance is not their problem. Buyer beware.

Book salmonThe massive problems with farm-raised salmon have been written about extensively, though much education remains to be done, judging from how ignorant the average consumer remains and how often these fish appear on menus. Salmon were designed by nature to swim freely in wide open oceans, for thousands of miles. They most definitely were not designed to be crammed into aqua pens with hundreds of thousands of other fish, swimming in a muck of antibiotic laden fish feed, feces, and sewage. Farm-raised salmon have much lower levels of omega-3 and significantly higher levels of PCBs, mercury and DDT- all of them toxic and carcinogenic compounds.

Additionally, the aqua pens consist of nets which trap sea lions and other mammals. The toxic waste from the farms is often discharged directly into coastal waters, severely damaging fragile coastal ecosystems.

king-of-fish-bookThe decline of wild salmon is one of the worst ecological and biological tragedies of our era. The emergence of this farming industry to fill the gap between supply and demand is a horrible development. These fish even have to be dyed pink so that unsuspecting consumers believe that they are eating the real deal.

I’m quite sure that some of my friends and acquaintances have in the past seen me as elitist and pretentious for saying I will only eat wild salmon. So be it. I know what real wild salmon is. It’s not just that so called ‘Atlantic Salmon’ is a poor substitute. It is no substitute at all. Shame on the industry and the sellers who continue to peddle these creatures.