The Blue Path Starts Here
Who We Are
For twenty-five years, we have lived and traveled along the Earth’s water cycle. During that time, we worked and played on and in British Columbia’s , glaciers, lakes, rivers, coastlines and rainforests. We have also dived and surfed in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and drifted down the longest rivers in Asia, Africa and South America.
Meet Alex and Diane. Bitten by the travel bug on our honeymoon, we have been traveling around the world and exploring our own backyard since. Everywhere we go, we are greeted with the beauty of the natural world and the charm of the world’s cultures. However, this beauty and charm are tempered with the impact of human consumption and waste that also greets us everywhere we go. It constantly reminds us of the fragility of our planet and the carelessness of its people.
What We Found
The greatest effect of this carelessness is on the planet’s waterways. As a result, industrial effluent pollutes its rivers and lakes, while plastic litter poisons its oceans and aquatic life. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated and destructive fishing practices have collapsed many of the species in its seas. Similarly, the world’s carbon-fueled economies continue to warm the oceans, further damaging coral reefs and other marine environments. Meanwhile, governments commit to voluntary and non-binding emissions targets.
Tourism is among the least unsustainable industries and can help diversify a local economy and bridge cultural gaps. However, massive influxes of seasonal visitors negatively impact the destinations they’ve come so far to see. They overwhelm the local infrastructure and accelerate the depletion of already scarce resources, and overru the local culture with western values and over-priced housing.
Because corrupt officials allow multinational corporations to exploit local populations and ecosystems, thriving rainforests are replaced with open-pit mines and palm-oil plantations, sustainable farming techniques with agribusiness, and traditional organic food sources with processed and packaged salt, sugar and fat.
But, it’s not all bad. The world still offers a great deal of fascination, intrigue, adventure and romance that can be discovered in a responsible and productive manner. With some effort, we can improve ourselves by traveling the world, while leaving the people and places we visit in a better condition than we found them.
Marine Conservation and
Socially Conscious Travel
started as a socially conscious travel blog. Through the course of writing articles and publishing posts, we realized that many of the issues associated with responsible tourism are the same issues associated with the declining health of our world’s oceans. We decided to shift our focus to include discussions around the planet’s marine ecosystems to complement our examination of socially responsible travel.
Our website is divided into three main sections – , and . Within each of these categories are ideas and strategies to help curb the pressures confronting our world’s waterways and cultures, and the threats to our social fabric. Links to other websites, studies and other articles we find the most useful are on the page.
The sidebar has links to our Start Here, and (where you will find all our blog posts – from newest to oldest) pages. There is also a Search function, our most popular and recent articles, tags making it easier to find other posts with similar themes, and our Social Media Feeds.
Towards the bottom of every page and post are links to our , About Us, and Resources pages. At the very bottom are links to our page, and our including how we collect and use information from the website.
Gone are the days when the only crisis facing our oceans was limited to saving the whales. Now, threats to the planet’s marine ecosystems and wildlife are many, varied and far-reaching. Every waterway is plagued by issues found everywhere as well as problems unique to that environment.
Every year, a hundred million sharks and tens of thousands rays are killed for their fins and gill-rakers to satisfy the demand fueled by absurd Chinese pseudoscience and superstition, and commercial fishing uses modern technology and equipment to pinpoint and deplete the few remaining fish stocks in the sea. Meanwhile, spawning streams for salmon – who directly affect habitats for thousands of miles beyond their own – are being destroyed to make way for natural gas and crude oil terminals.
Shipping container debris full of styrofoam pellets coat the once pristine west coast of Vancouver Island, and plastic bottle-caps and drinking-straws line the high-tide mark on the beaches of Costa Rica. Increased carbon in the atmosphere acidifies the ocean and bleaches more and more of the coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef every year, and the runoff of industrial and cosmetic fertilizers fuel algae blooms that suffocate fresh water systems all over the world.
In this section, we discuss these and other pressures, and what everyone can do to help mitigate the risks to our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams.
Experiencing an exotic culture or destination can be a mirage. Those who first “discovered” it were lucky enough to see it in its purest and most unadulterated form. As word spreads, each subsequent wave of foreigners further influences and detracts from why we went there in the first place. After a while, the tourist culture overpowers the local culture, and what little atmosphere remains is often laid to waste by legions of tour groups.
Tourism is among the least unsustainable industries and can help diversify a local economy and bridge cultural gaps. However, with an increase in tourism, also comes increased demand on the local infrastructure. Water supply, roads, sewage facilities and waste management are taxed not only by a greater number of tourists, but also by an influx of workers eager to capitalize on a growing industry.
The natural environment is also impacted by too many people coming to do the same thing in the same place. Whale-watching and Whale Shark operations entertain tourists by corralling and impeding pelagic fish and mammals, thereby affecting their ability to feed in peace. The carbon emissions from airplanes, cruise ships and flotillas of tour and sport-fishing boats further exacerbate the effects of global-warming threatening our oceans.
No matter how well-intentioned, low-key and unobtrusive we might be, our mere presence contributes to these phenomena. But, we can make an effort to minimize the negative effects of tourism and maximize the benefits of visiting exotic cultures and destinations.
It’s easy to get confused by the onslaught of mixed messages we receive from our governments and media, and to lose sight of how we can make a positive difference on the planet and its people. In a time when fake news creates division among citizens and hack pundits compete with serious and reputable journalists, it’s difficult to decide where to get credible information, who to believe, and what to do.
Corporate and industry lobbyists lurk in the corridors of power, influencing corrupt legislators to do their bidding at the expense of taxpayers and the voting public. The environment, education and health-care pay the highest price for the sake of an apparently fickle and fragile economy. We are encouraged to behave like consumers rather than think like citizens, and are distracted by reality TV and news reports diluted with meaningless and irrelevant stories rather than concentrating on matters that really affect our lives and the world around us.
Much like any ecosystem, our lives must be in balance to function properly. A balanced lifestyle includes healthy choices, expanding horizons, continued education and creative outlets. Ideally, we would do something for our mind, our body and our soul – every day. When our lives are balanced, it is easier to concentrate on things that aren’t.
The Blue Path takes a step back and examines the world through a wide-angle lens, while focusing on the underlying issues and absurdities that impact our planet and the lives of those on it. We sift through the half-truths and feel-good non-solutions promoted by corporations and governments, and offer actions everyone can do to help the plight of the planet.
and the world gets smaller every day. Cultures are disappearing as quickly as ecosystems, but positive change is possible through our individual choices and actions. We invite you to explore our marine conservation and socially conscious travel blog, and join us as we head down in an effort to improve the condition of the world’s people and its oceans.