Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Tourist Destroys What He Comes To See

And sometimes the thing he comes to see, destroys him.

A lot of people are kind of "over" the media's coverage of that poorly made stupid submarine and the stupid guy who designed it and died in it and the stupid billionaires who paid money to get in that death trap.  I guess you could feel sorry for the 19-year-old kid whose Dad sort of persuaded him to go.  A Dad who was the richest man in Pakistan - a country where there is a lot of poverty.  Imagine how much good could have been done for his countrymen with $500,000.  Doesn't Islam say you should give to charity?

Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees are drowned when a boat sinks and no one gives a damn.  Why is this?  It is another example of the "Tot Mom" phenomenon.  It was one of us down there - quite literally.  The media is controlled by Billionaires, so when a Billionaire is in peril, well that's news. Two reporters had previously been on the death-trap sub, so once again, it was one of us who had been down there - a member of the media.

You can be sure if one American or one reporter was on that refugee ship, we would be seeing headlines saying "American still missing in refugee ship disaster!  (also 500 refugees, but who cares?)"  We identify with people like us, I guess, or attractive people.  It is kind of sick, really.

This incident comes on the heels of another near-disaster, where a Chinese businessman nearly died on Mt. Everest and another tourist called off his ascent and had his Sherpa carry the unconscious man down the mountain, saving his life.  In gratitude, the businessman thanked.... his sponsors and his own exploration team which had left him for dead.

And apparently that happens on Everest quite a bit.  The frozen bodies of victims are often left there and become landmarks, presumably before they are buried by snow.  There is also a lot of garbage left on the mountain, and during climbing season, human traffic jams can form. What's the point of all that?.

While exploration is a fine and wonderful thing, not everyone needs to do it, particularly in extreme or sensitive environments.  I guess the hat trick for members of the Billionaire's club is to climb Everest, dive the Mariana trench, and then rocket off into space - preferably aboard a rocket built by a company you own.  Now you have bragging rights in the Billionaire's club.  Next stop?  Bare-knuckles fighting with another Billionaire.  Gee, I can hardly wait.

More and more folks are getting quite tired of all this.  In the SciFi story, March of the Morons, they propose launching rockets into space and the blowing them up, to eliminate the population of stupid people.  Not a very practical solution for the billions of morons on the planet.  But for Billionaires?  It might take just one rocket!  And that stainless-steel dildo that Musk is building should hold them all - and has a swell history of blowing up as well.

Hey, it's just a thought. 

On a smaller scale, middle- and upper-class people do this sort of thing, too.  My Dad booked a tour to Antarctica, so he could say he went to every continent before he died.  Problem is, McMurdo base isn't much to look at, unless you are a shipping container fiend.  And the top of Everest?  Probably like the Grand Canyon  - most people spend less than five minutes looking at the view.  And as for the Titanic, well, you'd have a safer time viewing it by ROV, and a 3-D model viewed through VR would probably be a better experience.

"The tourist destroys the thing he comes to see" is a quote I think from Hemingway or somebody.  And it is true.  It is fun to explore places, but when your presence (and that of thousands of others) damages the environment or degrades the experience, then, well, what's the point?  And of course, we always blame "those other tourists" for wrecking things - never ourselves.  But we are all part of the problem, I think.  And I am not sure what the solution would be.

We live in a State Park which is a tourist destination.  When we moved here, the recession had reduced visitation numbers significantly. More than half the hotels had been torn down - and not rebuilt, due to the recession.  The remaining hotels were not even near capacity.  We had the place to ourselves.

Had.  We've been "discovered" and that's fine and all.  We don't own the place and certainly it is a State Park, open to the public.  But as more and more people come, something gets lost, and we now live in a "tourist town."   For example, we have a grocery store, but we never shop there.  Unless you want an $18 jar of pickles and a t-shirt and a hat, you aren't going to find what you want, at a price that is nearly reasonable.  But it is packed with tourists who are impulse shopping (as we all do, as tourists) and want to pick up a few items for their rented condo - chips and beer and such.

We have a whole shopping district like this - stores that we never go to, or rarely go to.  They are not meant for us.  Even the restaurants are not really friendly to locals - they are crowded, expensive, and the service is slow.   I understand more why "locals" in tourist destinations have a love-hate relationship with tourists.  They love the income and jobs tourism creates.  They love the increase in property values as well.  They hate the fact they can no longer afford to live there, though.  And the throngs of tourists, either driving city-style (tailgating and speeding) or gawking and driving five miles and hour, sort of gets on your nerves.

But of course, we are all tourists at one time or another, even when just passing through a neighboring town.

All that being said, it is one thing to go to the beach on the weekend, and another to rocket off into space or climb the world's tallest mountain.  Should some things not be tourist destinations?  Particularly environmentally sensitive areas, perhaps.

But, I have a plan!  Rather than risk life and limb climbing outside of Everest, why not tunnel underneath it and run an elevator up to the top?  I mean, how hard could it be to tunnel through a hundred miles of granite?  Elon's "boring" company is no doubt up to the job!   Put a revolving restaurant at the top and now anyone can see the top of Mt. Everest - any time of year!  And the Sherpas could be hired as guides and historical re-enactors.

Why not? Makes as much sense as this stupid imploding submarine nightmare.