Climate Change May Fuel Future Travel Options

climate changeClimate change is a topic that many of us think is something that will affect future generations, perhaps hundreds of years from now. But what if we look at it from a different viewpoint?

What if we could travel back in time 17 million years to when the Grand Canyon was just forming? Would we have believed that the national monument, now nearly a mile deep in places, would some day be a major tourist attraction? Probably not. But time and the forces of nature that come with it, along with the effect of humans on the planet, have a way of changing what we see – sometimes dramatically.

We don’t have to go back millions of years to see such changes either. A recent study indicates that the Arctic will become drastically greener in just a matter of decades. “So what?” one might say. “Who goes there anyway?” Significant to this study on climate change is that it was done in the Arctic where not much can grow or live due to the harsh environment. To see change of any kind is unusual.

The research team included scientists from AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University and the University of York. These are organizations that have a very global view on things that will affect our future.

My father-in-law worked for AT&T during the early days of microwave communications and sometimes told a story of how researchers in his lab used the then-new technology to cook hot dogs. That technology would later also be used for the microwave ovens we all know so well. This story has much of the same, believable flavor.”Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson of the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation in an RDMag article.

climate changeIt will begin with something as simple as some species of birds being unable to seasonally migrate to particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting, suggests the study. But things turn worse very quickly as the sun’s radiation, normally reflected back into space when it hits snow, will have less of it to hit and will stick around, accelerating global warming.

Just one commonly accepted effect of global warming is flooding in some coastal areas and more powerful storms.

To the world of travel, that means popular beach destinations could be under water in a few hundred years. More immediate, some of today’s iconic travel destinations, already struggling with sea level issues like Venice, Italy, or the Netherlands, could be doomed much quicker.

Right now, for example, Venice, Italy, is being protected against rising tides in the Adriatic Sea by rows of mobile gates, intended to isolate the Venetian Lagoon when the tide rises above a certain level. The Netherlands, a geographically low-lying country, has a great amount of its land and people at or below sea level and will also be affected by rising ocean levels.

climate changeThis new study, while not talked about much in the press, is a clear indicator of what the future holds and good food for thought.

Of even more immediate concern, and visually a clear indicator of a problem we can do something about, is today’s reality of the “floating island of plastic” in the Pacific Ocean.

Brought to the area by ocean currents that move around the planet like a slow-motion whirlpool, opposing the wind and earth’s rotational forces, tens of thousands of pounds of garbage wash ashore here every year.

“These ecosystems are very connected. If the oceans are in trouble, we humans are in trouble. We don’t realize that we are threatening our own existence,” says Dr. Gregor Hodgson, founder and executive director of Reef Check Organization in this video.



[Image credit – Flickr user Kris Krug]

Undiscovered New York: lesser-known museums

Undiscovered New York loves our museums. Who hasn’t come to the Museum of Modern Art and spent hours gazing at works like Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon? Or visited the the Met on a warm evening at dusk to take in one of New York’s best views from the rooftop sculpture garden? Or gazed in awe at the massive lifesize Blue Whale at the American Museum of Natural History?

But the truth is that whether you live here or you’re coming from out of town, a trip to New York’s “must see” museums can get old quickly. Don’t get me wrong – if you’ve never seen the Musuem of Modern Art or the Met, by all means go. But at the same time, the ridiculous weekend crowds and steep admission fees can conspire to spoil that ideal New York museum visit, especially at some of New York’s biggest and most popular spots. What’s a museum-loving visitor to do?

Lucky for you, New York is absolutely jam packed with amazing museums, covering just about any culture, subject, genre of art or period of history imaginable. Best of all, many of these museums are extremely cheap or free and you’ll avoid huge crowds and long waits that can spoil a visit at some of New York’s “biggies.” Want to have an awesome New York museum experience without all the fuss? Step inside Undiscovered New York’s favorite lesser-known New York museums, after the jump.
City Reliquary
On the outskirts of Brooklyn’s trendy Wiliamsburg neighborhood, sandwiched along a row of unassuming storefronts and steps from the noisy BQE Expressway lies one of the more unique museum collections in all of New York. It’s called the City Reliquary, and it’s a less a formal museum than a testament to the maniacal habits of obsessive-compulsive New Yorkers.

Rather than focus on collection curated by some academic “expert,” the City Reliquary started as a repository for the collections of ordinary New Yorkers ranging from “vintage thermoses” to Presidential Plates and antique pens. The organization supplements these resident collections with displays of interesting New York paraphenalia including architectural remnants of New York City buildings and Statue of Liberty mementos. It’s a small but often fun antidote to the stuffy, more established museums across the river in Manhattan. As another plus, the admission is “pay what you wish.”

Rubin Museum of Art
The Met has an amazing collection of artwork from the Far East – enough to put most major museums to shame. But there’s so much to see it get a bit overwhelming at times. That’s why a museum like Chelsea’s Rubin Museum of Art can be a great alternative for easily distracted visitors. Rather than try to cover a huge range of countries and cultures in Asia, the Rubin Museum focuses exclusively on Himalayas and surrounding regions on several manageable floors. It’s a decidedly more leisurely, manageable and less crowded way to check out some amazing culture in a cool setting.

Museum of Sex
We mentioned the the Museum of Sex this past Valentine’s Day, and it honestly deserves another mention here. OK, yes, I know – it’s a museum about sex. But before you break into nervous giggles and write it off as some place for perverts, did you ever think to consider it might be an interesting museum? The answer is a definite YES. In all honesty, the scope of the Museum of Sex goes well beyond celebrating flesh to take a deeper look at human sexuality. Honest-to-goodness academic questions are asked through exhibits about censorship, obscenity laws and the changing morals of different societies through the years. And yes, of course, there are images of some naked people here and there (shocking isn’t it?).

What To Do When It’s Cold In New York City

Planning a trip to NYC? Bummed that the city is practically frozen over at the moment? Never fear! By taking the time to explore two the city’s most fantastic museums, you can keep your family occupied — and out of the cold.

You’ll want to get started at the American Museum of Natural History. Especially if you’re with kids, this is a must see. I have a 2 1/2 year-old, and she’d be in love with the dinosaurs, African Mammal Hall, and Ocean Life exhibits. You’ll also find a planetarium and an IMAX theater — something I’ve found to be a great activity for cold and rainy days.

After you’re done at AMNH, take the 79th Street crosstown bus to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We’ve yet to visit NYC with my toddler, but according to the linked article, the trick is to stand up to the surly museum guards. “They’re the city’s most fervent believers that children should be seen and not heard — they’ll level stern, disapproving glares if your child so much as skips for joy or exclaims above a whisper.” But as long as you don’t let your little one wipe greasy hands all over famous works of art, you should be fine.

For a full run down on all the awesome stuff to do in both museums, check out Holly Hughes’ article on Frommers.