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Autor: 24  •  December 3, 2010  •  2,659 Words (11 Pages)  •  529 Views

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Meghan Morrisey (965049)

Professor Robinson

STS 2103

April 10th 2007

The Consequences of Tourism and Waste Accumulation in Fragile Environments: Everest

“The Highest Garbage Dump in the World”

In the magazines like National Geographic or any adventure tourism magazines, one sees pictures of Mount Everest in its lonely majestic beauty. Rising high above the clouds one imagines the clear air, the pristine white snow, and the complete calm and quiet. What these magazines may or may not show their readers are the giant heaps of garbage, the destruction of Nepalese forests; the corpses which are strewn across the mountain, and the long lines of tourists waiting their turn to reach the top of the world. Receiving thousands of tourists each year results in the steady degradation of the alpine environment. Tourists leave their garbage on the mountain, aid the destruction of alpine plants, and assist in the depletion of Nepalese forests; all for the one goal of reaching the summit of Everest.

The Everest region is in need of protection, conservation and restoration (Byers). Tourism has taken over this untouched environment and made it into a “must - see vacation destination.” In order to repair this fragile environment the people who have aided in its destruction must return and aid in its conservation through studying the landscape and creating projects to protect it;

“The alpine zone is a neglected landscape that is in need of greater protection, conservation, and restoration involving integrated, applied research to the clarification of problems, the design of remedial projects, and monitoring of their impacts (Byers).”

In order to repair the damages done to the alpine environment, we must pay more attention to the use of the land and how tourists respect it.

The greatest cause of the deterioration of the Everest region is due to a great number of tourists invading the area;

“Research results indicate that alpine ecosystems... within the Imja and Gokyo valleys have been significantly impacted during the past twenty to thirty years as a result of poorly controlled tourism. Impacts within the alpine zone include the over harvesting of fragile alpine shrubs and plants for expedition and tourist lodge fuel, overgrazing accelerated erosion, and uncontrolled lodge building. Evidence suggests that similar scenarios of landscape change in the alpine zone are occurring elsewhere around the Everest massif as the result of adventure tourism(Byers).”

Tourism has grown exponentially since the 1960s. The numbers went from twenty tourists in 1964 to 18,200 during the 1997-1998 season; more than 27,000 tourists arrived in 2001, and in 2003 an estimated 19,000 visitors were received (Byers).

The reasons that tourism has grown so greatly in this region is due to the many media related issues and topics in the news and movies, etc. which were/are featured in the years that “adventure tourism” started to grow. The extremely popular IMAX movie titled, “Everest” was one of the factors leading to the growth of tourists. As well as many books which filled the fascination of readers everywhere for Mount Everest and its Sherpa people. Another factor was the discovery of George Mallory’s body on the Tibetan side of the mountain in 1999, along with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the climbing of Mt Everest in May 2003. All of these factors resulted in a huge global interest in the region (Byers).

In Byers’ essay he discusses how the ultimate link between the environmental degradation and tourism is due to a lack of respect for the environment where tourists deposit their trash along the trails they walk on their way to their destination;

“The impacts over the past thirty years have been slow and insidious, but nevertheless rank as high or higher than those reported for the lower elevations. Based on these research results, I link the bulk of contemporary landscape disturbance in the alpine to the recent and significant growth of unregulated “adventure tourism,” where the alpine zone is either a destination in itself (e.g.; by trekking groups) or passed through en route to the higher base camps (by climbing expeditions;) (Byers).”

Adventure tourism has taken over the area of Mount Everest. This particular market and tourism industry in the region has destroyed forests and plant life in the area in order to build lodges to accommodate so many tourists. This leaves the view of the landscape divided up into picturesque views of the mountain and views of lodges and inhabited areas which were once untouched by so many people; “Directly and indirectly, however, tourism may often also be harming the very environment that lures so many people from home in the first place (Tenenbaum).” The very thing that lures tourists to the region of Mount Everest is to experience the beauty and the isolation. Yet having so many tourists is destroying the beauty itself which in turn will harm the tourism industry of the region; “Because so many tourists are attracted to natural, unspoiled destinations, however, the environmental degradation caused by tourism also hurts the tourism industry (Tenenbaum).”

“Diverse, regionally varying linkages have been suggested between tourism and changing Sherpa agriculture, pastoralism, and forest use; community management of forests and grazing; the localized build up of rubbish and pollution from human waste; forest degradation; and damage to alpine vegetation (Stevens).”

“In the half century since the first ascent of Mt. Everest, tourism has brought major economic changes to the region, fostering prosperity for many Sherpas but also altering long - established patterns of land use and resource management and increasing pressures on high - altitude resources and environment (Stevens).”

“Soils are young and thin, environments are cold and harsh, plant growth cycles are slow, and even minor forms of disturbance can take decades to heal. They cover 3 percent of the earth’s surface and are inhabited by more than 10,000 species of plants, making alpine ecosystems one of the most biodiverse habitats in

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