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Airbnb Goes to Antarctica

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05.10.2019

Tourists exploring Antarctica. Ric Tapia/Tapir/AP

This story was originally published by Slate and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Travel is terrible for the environment, particularly if it is by plane. It’s such “a major contributor to ecocide,” that it had one travel writer vowing in The Atlantic to “cherish my own home turf more.” As concern about climate change reaches a fever pitch (finally), we’re finally realizing we might need to balance seeing the world with preserving it. What does this mean if you are a company whose very existence depends on users being tempted around the globe by … a lakeside one-bedroom in Italy, a cabana in Colombia, a yurt in France? All are vacation rentals that Airbnb served up to me when I recently browsed the home page—which also included a large banner advertising “the Antarctic Sabbatical.”

Welcome to Airbnb’s glitzy, greenwashing PR stunt: In December, the vacation rental platform will send five lucky volunteer “citizen scientists” to the desolate continent for 10 days. There, according to an online brochure featuring animations of chilly remote landscapes, they’ll explore an icefall, ride fat bikes with wide tires to grip the frozen terrain, and collect samples of snow. It’s these snow samples that are ostensibly the point of this scientific journey: They will be later analyzed, with help from real scientists, for signs of microplastics. Airbnb doesn’t list the price tag of the trip, which it is........

© Mother Jones