Tales of an Ecotourist

What Travel to Wild Places Can Teach Us about Climate Change

By Mike Gunter Jr.

Subjects: Environmental Studies, Environmental Politics, General Interest
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438466781, 460 pages, December 2017
Hardcover : 9781438466798, 460 pages, December 2017

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Table of contents

Introduction: Seeing the World Anew

Part I. What's Up, Doc?
The Galápagos Islands and Scientific Obstacles to Understanding Climate Change

1. Cartoonish Beginnings

2. From Maps to Modeling

3. Queasiness and Uncertainty

4. Darwin, Science, and Spirituality

5. Irreversible Is Not Inevitable

Part II. Show Me the Money!
The Great Barrier Reef and Economic Obstacles to Understanding Climate Change

6. Looks Can Be Deceiving

7. The Blame Game

8. Building Blocks . . . and Tearing Them Down

9. Human Influences—From Lemons to Lemonade?

10. Spending to Save

Part III. Lions, Rhinos, And Hyenas . . . Oh My
South Africa's Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and Cultural Obstacles to Understanding Climate Change

11. Insurance

12. Rainbow Nation

13. Parks and People

14. All Politics Is Local, but . . .

Part IV. I Have a Dream
Tambopata Research Center and Social Obstacles to Understanding Climate Change

15. Traveling Alone

16. Amid the Deafening Silence

17. Nurturing Nature—at the Nest

18. At the Colpa Colorado

The Antarctic Peninsula and Political Obstacles to Understanding Climate Change

19. Kicking the Carbon Habit

20. Market Mechanisms: Cap and Trade versus the Carbon Tax

21. Fundamentally Flawed?

22. More with Less . . . Or, from Vicious to Virtuous Circles

Conclusions: The Power of Travel

Combining humor and memorable anecdotes, five famous ecotourist destinations offer a breathtaking backdrop to better understanding climate change.


Crossing the far corners of the globe, Tales of an Ecotourist showcases travel, from the hot and humid Amazon jungle to the frozen but dry Antarctic, as a simple yet spellbinding lens to better understand the complex issue of climate change. At its core, climate change is an issue few truly understand, in large part due to its dizzying array of scientific, economic, cultural, social, and political variables.

Using both keen humor and memorable anecdotes, while weaving respected scientific studies along the way, Mike Gunter Jr. transports the reader to five famous ecodestinations, from the Galapagos Islands to the Great Barrier Reef, revealing firsthand the increasing threats of climate change. Part travelogue, part current events exposé, with a healthy dose of history, ecology, and politics, these tales of ecoadventure tackle such obstacles head on while fleshing out much-needed personal context to perhaps society's greatest threat of all.

Mike Gunter Jr. is a Cornell Distinguished Faculty member and Arthur Vining Davis Fellow at Rollins College where he serves as Professor and Chair of the Political Science department and Director of International Affairs in the Holt School. He is the author of Building the Next Ark: How NGOs Work to Protect Biodiversity.


"…the stories and adventures described effortlessly educate readers about climate change, arguably the most pressing environmental issue of the current time. This volume's broad accessibility combined with sound scholarly apparatus make it a valuable addition to any collection. " — CHOICE

"…an extraordinary and entertaining volume…" — Midwest Book Review

"Gunter takes us to the far corners of the globe to understand the lived experience of climate change. More than a travelogue, Tales of an Ecotourist explains how getting outside—out of our houses, immediate surroundings, and comfort zones—can awaken all of us to the realities and urgency of a warming world. This is a rich, beautifully written, and compelling book. " — Paul Wapner, author of Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism

"In Tales of an Ecotourist Mike Gunter Jr. takes you on a remarkable journey, both figuratively and literally, as he recounts his experiences visiting some of the most amazing places on our planet. As a genuine, true-to-principles ecotourist, he has an important lesson for us: If we are to veer from our current path of global environmental degradation, we will have to come to appreciate firsthand its remarkable wonder and beauty. " — Michael E. Mann, coauthor of The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy