He's spent 20 years encouraging people to see the world, but guidebook guru Mark Ellingham is no longer so keen on air travel. After announcing plans to "fly less often and stay longer," the British publisher is adding sections to his Rough Guides that spell out alternatives to fuel-intensive flying, setting up an online carbon calculator, and funding energy-saving initiatives to "offset" the impact of staff and author travel.
Q: Do carbon-offsetting programs like Climate Care really help the environment?
A: It's clearly better not to create carbon dioxide emissions. But when you calculate your emissions to offset them, it's impossible not to be shocked and not to change your habits.
Q: How will the issue of climate change affect the travel and guidebook industries?
A: I'd like to see travelers take fewer weekend breaks and more long ones. And by producing good local guidebooks, we can help people take satisfying vacations close to home.
Q: How do alternate modes of transportation enrich the travel experience?
A: Traveling slower gives you a sense of place. Trains give you the chance to talk to people, to see a landscape unfold.
--interview by Jennifer Hattam
(Photograph by Tom Miller)
UPDATE (5/10/07): Check out the latest on Ellingham's campaign over at Compass.