Human ecologist Bill Durham. (Photo by Claire Menke.)

As a budding ecologist, I often struggle with the Yeti-sized carbon footprint I create when traveling to faraway field sites. Research in Hawaii last summer entailed a three-hour car ride to the airport, a six-hour flight to Honolulu, a 45-minute flight to Hilo, and then half-hour car rides twice daily from our base site in town to our field site in the highlands. I always return from these trips feeling reinvigorated as an environmentalist, but I know my new knowledge and passion come at a cost.

Like it or not, travel has hidden environmental price tags. Some green-minded individuals have sworn off plane travel or confined themselves to an area reachable by bike. But for one longtime thinker on these topics, there is no contradiction between the terms “eco” and “tourism.”