I’ll have to come clean and mention that I just participated in one of the luxuries that will become more difficult in the near future: pleasure travel. And this wasn’t just any vacation, it was 2 weeks in western Turkey. I did come away with an appreciation for living locally there. They eat the food that’s in season. They don’t eat much that’s grown outside of the country. Unfortunately, it seems the highest percentage of people that live locally and sustainably are also the poorest. The rural villages where little has changed for centuries (maybe even millennia) are emptying as people pour into Istanbul and other cities looking for better jobs.
Istanbul is a fascinating city. Every square is teeming with people. The public transit/light rail system is nice and modern, but severely overloaded because there simply isn’t enough of it. Pollution is pretty bad, and I think it may have messed a bit with my eyes. It’s a very dense city, parking lots are rare and tiny, and I don’t think I ever saw a parking garage. Walking is critical, and rarely do you see problems with obesity.
Of course there are not many correlations between Indianapolis and anywhere in Turkey because of the cultural and historical differences between the two; however, this does not mean there aren’t opportunities to learn from Turkey. A few hotel rooms had a special device that brought power to the room only when the key was in it, saving the hotel energy costs. Also, the flushing in many of the bathrooms could be controlled so that the user could stop the water quickly if needed. These devices may exist in the states, but I have not seen them. I thought these were great, simple ideas for conservation. We could certainly adapt them in the States.
Traveling gives the person the opportunity to observe different cultures. Do I feel guilty for my personal contribution to global warming and energy usage? A bit. But, I hope that I have returned with a bit more knowledge about a different part of the world. Turkey was very good to me, and if you’re ever looking to visit an exotic location, I could not recommend it higher.