Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yellowstone National Park Geyser Cam

Now you can watch the Old Faithful Geyser spout on your computer.

Yellowstone National Park has just launched its first live streaming webcam of live, full motion video of what is arguably the world's most famous and recognizable geyser. But the Yellowstone National Park 'geyser-cam' shows you more, too.

The camera also takes in other geysers location on Geyser Hill, including Beehive, Lion, and Giantess. But not my own personal favorite, the bubbling Paint Pot geyer.

Also, the camera shows you whatever wildlife that meanders into camera range, including bison and elk.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Northwest Airlines Spending Billions on Greener Airplanes

Northwest Airlines has dubbed its environmentally friendly program "EarthCares". There are several parts to it --

The airline is spending $6 Billion (yes, with a B) over the next few years to modernize its fleet, retiring fuel-guzzling jets in favor of more modern and more energy-efficient ones. This will reduce the airline's carbon emissions by 25%.

Also, by the end of the decade, Northwest will donate a total of $1 Million (that's with an M) to the Nature Conservancy, to protect land in the Mississippi River Valley from being polluted, developed or both.

You can support these efforts by donating either money or frequent flyer miles, and you can do it on the airline's website

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bonaire Designated as Most Pristine Coral Reef in Caribbean

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had designated the island of Bonaire as having "arguably the most pristine coral reef environment in the Caribbean".

Scuba divers and snorkelers already know this -- it's why Bonaire consistently rates as one of the world's top diving destinations. Visibility underwater can extend 100 feet or more, and the variety of coral and tropical fish is both colorful and plentiful.

The designation by NOAA means Bonaire’s reef will now become the benchmark for which all other coral reefs will be compared, since research has shown Bonaire has the highest percentage of coral cover and the lowest percentage of algal cover compared to other Caribbean reefs.

And that's why Bonaire is inhabited by more species of fish than any other Caribbean island, including my own personal favorite, the parrotfish, whose brilliant turquoise color matches the color of the water in which it swims.

This past January, a group of marine biologists and other scientists spent a week researching and mapping the coral reefs. It was an impressive group -- trained environmentalists from NOAA, the College of William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the University of Delaware and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

The expedition was in cooperation with STINAPA, the organization that oversees the Bonaire National Marine Park, where the expedition is taking place. The marine park pretty much surrounds the island.

Located eighty-six miles east of Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire lures visitors with year-round sunshine and a laid-back ambiance. In addition to snorkeling and scuba diving, there's windsurfing, kiteboarding, landsailing, mountain biking, sea and mangrove kayaking, horseback riding, nature tours, hiking, bird watching, sailing and deep sea and bone fishing.

Quite a list. Quite a coral reef. Quite a Green Travel destination!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hertz Goes Hybrid

Hertz has gone green, adding $68 million worth of hybrid vehicles to its rental fleet.

It's called The Green Collection, and it totals 3,400 hybrid vehicles nationwide by the end of this year, 2008. Of those, 100 are being added to the fleet in New York City.

The Hertz Corporation is the world's largest general-use car rental company, so this is both a financial commitment and a worthy environmental initiative.

The hybrids are the Toyota Prius, the best-selling hybrid in the USA.

The Hertz hybrids join more than 100-thousand other vehicles in the rental fleet that meet EPA SmartWayTM certification, which indicates lower emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The Toyota Prius has been awarded the EPA's highest honor, SmartWay EliteTM status.

That means more than 64 percent (268,000 cars) of the Hertz rental fleet racks up 28 mpg or greater fuel efficiency. That's a better corporate-wide fuel economy average than some of the manufacturers whose vehicles Hertz buys and rents to us.

So, the next time you need to rent a car, call Hertz and reserve a great green drive.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

LOVE for Sale in Philadephia for Valentine's Day

Find LOVE in Philadelphia on Valentine's Day.

The City of Brotherly Love is going ga-ga for LOVE. I'm referring to the iconic L-O-V-E graphic design on things like keychains, coffee mugs and more.

If LOVE is what you seek this Valentine's Day, it's for sale in LOVE Park, in the park's own shop just a kiss away from the towering red pop art sculpture. The official name of this park in downtown Philadelphia is Fairmount Park, but everybody calls this swath of green Love Park.

The popular name is thanks to the sculpture by artist Robert Indiana, which has become one of Philadelphia's cherished landmarks. A steady stream of visitors come to the LOVE statue for lovely souvenir photos, on their way to other lovely Philly favorites like the famous "Rocky" museum steps, the Liberty Bell, or the Philly culinary icon, the cheesesteak.

In Philadelphia, Valentine's Day is a red letter day for Green Travels!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ski Resorts Lead the Way Going Green

Most of the U.S.A.'s winter destinations are actively working to lower their carbon footprint and make the phrase "sustainable tourism" more than just a buzzword.

Here's what some ski and snowboard resorts are doing to prevent the environment from going downhill:

VAIL, Colorado, is 100 percent wind powered.

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, Washington, has relocated a chair lift base out of a marsh area, and donates used cooking grease to be converted into bio-diesel fuel.

SCHWEITZER, Idaho, is operating two new chairlifts on 100% renewable energy through the purchase of green tags.

DEER VALLEY, Utah, has tweaked lifts and snowmaking to reduce energy usage by 390,000 kilowatt hours -- which adds up to 400 tons of carbon emissions a year that won't be polluting the atmosphere. Also, season pass holders and guests booking a lesson or other skier service can opt to add one percent of the cost of the purchase for donation to the Summit Land Conservancy.

PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT, Utah, purchases enough reneweable energy to run four of its six-passenger chairlifts (which skiers and snowboarders affectionately refer to as "sixpacks"). That eliminates 3.64 million pounds of emissions. The resort also is researching sites for solar power and wind turbine power to reduce fossil fuel use even further. Also, Park City's fleet of snowmobiles, which are used by Ski Patrol and other employees, is fueled entirely by bio-diesel, which is keeping 55 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

SIERRA-AT-TAHOE, California, began offering close-in, preferrential parking this season to skiers and boarders who arrive in hybrid vehicles. And, the resort's official vehicle is a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which also gets preferential parking, of course.

There's yet more about the greening of ski resorts in the annual Ski Issue of the New York Times Travel Section

Yes, ski/snowboard resorts are going green. It makes for a nice color combination -- white snow, blue skies, and Green Travels.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Green Flowers Bloom at Marriott Hotels

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Marriott becomes the first hotel company to offer green flowers at events and meetings.

But, you say -- the photo is a bouquet of red roses, not green roses.
Green flowers as in organic flowers, grown without chemical pesticides.

U.S. consumers spend more than $200 billion annually -- yes, that's billion with a "B" -- on socially and environmentally responsible products. Environmentally grown flowers is a growing (sorry, I couldn't resist that pun) part of that market.

Many flowers, including the perfect red roses so popular on Valentine's Day, are imported from South America, where they are grown often with pesticides that are banned in the United States. These chemicals are causing health problems for many flower workers, killing birds, and polluting the water -- the same reasons the pesticides were banned in the USA.

Marriott becomes the first hotel company to offer organic and sustainably-grown flowers for weddings, meetings and other events. The organic flowers will be available at some -- not all -- Marriott hotels in North America, as well as at the company's Rennaissance Hotels, and at prices comparable to similar non-organic flowers.

The organic flowers are from Organic Bouquet, widely recognized as the pioneer of the eco-flower market in the U. S. Organic flowers are grown with organic and ecological practices that minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enhance environmental quality for future generations. Oh, yes -- avoiding pesticides also helps improve the health of farm workers.

If you are buying flowers for Valentine's Day, look for arrangements of organic and certified sustainably-grown flowers. And if you are buying flowers for a event at a hotel or restaurant, ask the catering manager to do the same.

Marriott's commitment to the environment spans more than 20 years, before Green Travels and sustainable tourism became buzzwords, and has been recognized repeatedly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and leads the industry with more than 250 ENERGY STAR hotels.

The company is on track to reduce its carbon footprint by one million tons over 10 years from 2000 to 2010.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sightseeing Cruise San Diego Harbor on Biodiesel

The largest sightseeing cruise operator in Southern California is switching from standard marine fuel to domestically-produced bio-diesel.

Hornblower Cruises is now the first commercial business operating in the Port of San Diego to voluntarily switch to a domestically-produced, environmentally friendly bio-diesel fuel. The company operates eight vessels, ranging in size from 80 to 230 feet, for harbor cruises, whale watching and dinner and brunch cruises.

It's an obvious next-step for Hornblower, whose narrated sightseeing cruises focus on the region's marine life and wildlife, including the migratory patterns of birds and whales, and the necessity of protecting them and the environment.

Hornblower says its guests will be able to smell the difference from the non-toxic, non-carcinogenic biodiesel fuel being used.

San Diego Bay is home to swimmers, whales, dolphins, fish, seabirds and lots of recreational, commercial and military boaters. Switching to bio-diesel can help reduce the environmental impact of recreational boating. Hornblower hopes its switch to bio-diesel will inspire others to make the same commitment.

The switch to bio-diesel is a collaboration between Hornblower, New Leaf Biofuels and General Petroleum, the largest distributor of bio-fuels in Southern California.