Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Mindfulness and Sustainability: Utilizing the Tourism Context

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Mindfulness and Sustainability: Utilizing the Tourism Context

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

1.1 The Ineffectiveness of Sustainability Efforts and Possible Reasons

On the 289 pages of Hungary's most comprehensive development plan, the National Development 2030 (Mirror translation of the original: Nemzeti Fejlesztés 2030), the Hungarian counterparts of the words "sustainable", "unsustainable", "sustainability" or their agglutinated forms occur 247 times. Since the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent spring in 1962 countless conferences, scientific publications, organizations have been dealing with issues of sustainability locally, regionally and globally. In spite of the seemingly growing awareness of sustainability challenges humanity is still on track to worst case (RCP8.5) climate change scenario as highlighted by Global Carbon Budget 2014 report (Le Quéré et al., 2014). Other planetary boundaries such as biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, and land-system change have also been transgressed (Steffen et al., 2015).

There are several other problem areas whose analysis is beyond the scope of this article (e.g. inequality gap) Based on NOA ESRL data Figure 1. shows co2 emission figures since 1992 and also the venues of the COP climate conferences in the same period.

It might seem astonishing why in the face of the well-known signs and serious warnings from the scientific community humanity still chooses to postpone urgent and inevitable decisions. Present mental models and perception of climate change is one possible factor (Sterman, & Sweeney, (2007). "Creeping normalcy" and the "false alarm effect" can also play a significant role in the hesitation to act (Diamond, 2011). Most people are not aware of the fact that hardly noticeable gradual changes (creeping normalcy) might add up to a point where the whole system suffers an abrupt change termed state/regime shift (Scheffer, Carpenter, Foley, Folke &Walker, 2001, Carpenter et al., 2011). The "false alarm effect" originally portrayed in Aesop's fable here means that people might think if the ecosystem is still functioning in spite of the alarming voices of the recent decades, the problem cannot be that big. These two reasons seem to be supported by Google Trends data and findings from literature. There has been a steady downward trend in the global popularity of the search expressions "sustainable", "sustainable development" since 2005, for "global warming" since 2007, for "sustainability" since 2010 and with the exception of a sudden high outlier in 2009 for "climate change" since 2007. While over 80 % of tourists are aware and acknowledge that tourism-related aviation contributes to global warming (Gössling, Haglund, Kallgren,Revahl, & Hultman, 2009), people in general believe that action can be postponed (Sterman & Sweeney, 2007). Another possible explanation of hesitation might be technological optimism. Although technological innovation is important in addressing sustainability challenges (Kriegler et al., 2014), a purely technological fix seems unlikely (Polimeny, Mayumi, Giampietro, & Alcott, 2009). The strongest reason for hesitation and inaction, however, probably has to do with a deeper problem inherent in our modern world view. The worsening socio-ecological crises at its root is essentially a crisis of our perception of the world and our value system (Capra, 1982). It resonates with the final conclusions Diamond draws in his book (Diamond, 2011) and also with the views of several other authors pointing out that the consumption paradigm of modern societies is unsustainable (Boudrillard, 1998, Martinez-Alier, Pascual, Zaccai & Zaccai, 2010, Urry, 2010, Zsolnai, 2011, Harvey, 2011, Randers, 2012). Since E.F.Schumacher wrote his influential book titled Small is beautiful (Schumacher, 1973), alternative economic approaches considering spiritual values a guiding principle have been gaining momentum. Still, the big questions remain before the Paris climate conference expected to be a milestone in the history of mitigation efforts. …

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