The type of energy and the amount of energy we use has major impacts on the environment.

The challenges of climate change and ocean acidification are directly related to the amount of carbon emissions from our use of fossil fuels. In addition we have the issues of polluting our water supply from fracking, contaminating our streams from mine tailings, and polluting our air just to name a few. Continued dependence on fossil fuels also drains the economy of badly needed resources and threatens national security as well.

Fortunately, there are proven solutions to wiser energy use that happen to also be economically advantageous.

In the book Reinventing Fire, Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute provide a blue print for how the United States could get off oil by the year 2050 while increasing the GDP 158%, increase jobs, improve the environment, and seriously address the challenges of environmental issues such as climate change and ocean acidification.

Companies committed to Sustainable Tourism such as Walt Disney World® have already made a commitment to addressing climate change and cutting their net carbon emissions 50% from 2006 baseline levels by the year 2012. Once this target was achieved Disney has now set a target for another 50% reduction by 2020, and to then become a net carbon zero company.

Some of their programs include:

  • Becoming a "Energy Star Partner" which resulted in the first year enough energy savings to power the entire Animal Kingdom.

  • Using LED lighting for the Cinderella Castle using the equivalent of the energy to power 12 microwave ovens to light the entire castle.

  • Establishing a carbon solutions fund in 2008 which set a carbon tax on each business unit of the company. One year later $15.5 million was invested in carbon offset programs. The fund was used for such purposes as purchase of clean fuel vehicles, conversion of trains to run on biodisel wastes from restaurants, and collaboration with conservation international and Nature Conservancy to purchase $7 million to preserve forests in the Congo, Peru, and U.S.

  • Switching to more energy efficient light bulbs. Over 176,000 light bulbs have been replaced.

  • Commitment to increase its use of solar energy. Disney received an award from the Florida Solar Energy Center.

Best Practices by Disney

LED Lighting for the entire Cinderella Castle uses the same amount of energy that it would take to power 12 microwave ovens.

Each tourism operation has opportunities unique to their own situation for reducing energy. The examples of Walt Disney World® may be useful for some but not others.

Some other examples of sustainable tourism energy practices include:

  • use of solar photo voltaic energy systems such as the one in Joshua Tree National Park that reduced both pollution and operating costs by 90%.

  • use of wind energy For example the Taurikura Lodge in New Zealand is using wind mills to produce more energy than it needs and selling the excess back into the network.

  • use of micro hydro energy. Fore example the Villa Escudero Plantations & Resort, Inc

  • carbon sequestration combined with native habitat restoration. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has restored 80,000 acres of land and acquired an additional 40,000 acres of land through this program

  • painting roofs white. According to California Energy Commissioner Art, Rosenfeld, painting roofs white have potential savings of 20% of a homes annual energy costs.

Painting roofs white can save 20% annual energy costs