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Thrill Seeking and the Cost to the Environment

By: Norman Thomson - Updated: 12 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Environment Carbon Pollution Planes Car

Adrenaline Rush

Seeking thrills is becoming a very popular way to spend a few spare hours. Perhaps it is because people lead dull lives, or perhaps it is the hidden child within us, but many people relish the idea of a frightening white-knuckle ride or a face-to-face encounter with a killer shark.

Although a few moments spent facing perceived danger may produce a massive adrenaline rush, few people would claim that such an experience was life changing. But a few moments thrill for some can result in considerable damage to other inhabitants of the environment.

Freefalling

Jumping out of a plane at 5000 feet with only the wind and a thin plastic suit between you and the rapidly approaching ground is undoubtedly an amazing experience, but what about the cost? Even light aircraft use massive amounts of fuel. Planes need runways or grass strips to take off and they contribute to noise pollution. But it is still a fun experience, so before pulling on the tarpaulin-packed backpack that will hopefully deploy to glide you down to earth, bear in mind the true cost of your ‘jump’.

Estimates suggest that a single light aircraft flight to get you to the jump zone could use the equivalent fuel of getting you 500 miles somewhere by car.

How about those white-knuckle rides? Vertical drop roller coasters, inverted runs, and 0-100kph in under three seconds – what could be more thrilling? Most responsible theme parks now operate carbon-credit schemes where part of the entrance fee is offset. Some even point you towards local transport whereby you can calculate your own carbon footprint for the journey to the park.

Surprisingly, one of the most sustainable thrills that can be undertaken is a bungee jump. Strapped to a harness, connected by an elastic rope that is secured to a bridge, or platform, jumpers leap into the air to enjoy a freefall of around 100 feet or more. All this with the minimum of equipment and almost no damage to the local environment. In fact, many locations for jumps are in picturesque areas, offering the jumper not only a physical thrill but also a great view of nature. However, there are some organisations that use cranes, which increase the level of pollution.

A Longer Lasting Adventure

Balloon rides, although they may not produce an immediate adrenaline rush, offer a great way to experience the beauty of the countryside. Almost completely sustainable, balloons use little fuel, and what fuel they do use is very low in combustion by-products. A gentle flight for a few miles can be both exciting and relaxing at the same time. One major advantage is that it lasts a lot longer than some of the other thrills on offer.

With a little consideration to the effects that your activity is having, or going to have, on the natural world, thrill seeking can be fun. Choose the event carefully to ensure that the organisers have a documented environmental policy that outlines their aims towards carbon-neutrality.

Remember not to wear loose clothing when you plunge from the bridge!

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