What Does Your Cruising Holiday Have to Do with Global Warming ?

cruise ship

by Des Pensable copyright 2015

I recently went on a cruise ship holiday in the Pacific from Sydney to Vanuatu, Lifou and Marie Islands returning to Sydney after 9 days of travelling. It seemed an innocent way to have a relaxing holiday and see some lovely tropical islands. I did have an ulterior motive which was to see how well the Vanuatu islanders have coped after being hit by the massive force 5 cyclone Pam just 6 months ago.

However, there’s a dirty secret about the Cruise industry that few talk about. It’s a globalized  rogue industry that has a massive dirty carbon footprint and generally sweatshop working conditions for its employees. It pays little or no tax to any country while making massive profits that go primarily to a couple of very rich billionaire owners.

The cruise ship is the holiday around the world  that has grown faster than any other in the last 20 years carrying about 20 million passengers each year. It is also the most polluting holiday you can take.

From the environmental point of view here’s some statistics from this source.

  • These giant floating cities, with thousands of cabins, swimming pools, casinos, clubs and restaurants pollute as 14,000 cars, according to recent data of the Prosecutor of Venice.”
  • “Overall, the cruise ships oceanic produce at least 17% of the total emissions of nitrogen oxides, contributing to more than a quarter of total emissions of nitrogen oxides in port cities and coastal areas.”
  • “If you ever choose to embark on one of these marine giants, you must know that your CO2 emissions can be up to 1000 times more than a train journey.”
  • The U.S. EPA estimates that a 3,000-person cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of sewage weekly — enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools, and 1 million gallons of graywater — another 40 swimming pools full of waste. One cruise ship equals 50 swimming pools full of highly polluted waste which can be dumped into our oceans each week!”
  • “Cruise ships are also responsible for significant air pollution from the dirty fuel they burn, which can lead to serious human health problems, especially in port communities. Even while at dock, cruise ships often run dirty diesel engines to provide electrical power to passengers and crew.”

Cruise ships are not the only problem on the high seas. Shipping is the major method of transporting goods around the world between countries and it is generally out of sight hence out of mind. Shipping regulations are international and many were set in the 19th century and have changed little. Consequently, the environmental impact of shipping is much greater than anyone might suspect and in light of growing concerns over Global Warming urgently needs review.

According the article above in Wiki “The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.7% of the global human-made emissions in 2007 and expects them to rise by as much as 2 to 3 times by 2050 if no action is taken.” One can only wonder how much of this comes from all the world’s naval ships.

So how was my holiday on board the cruise ship you might ask? Well I didn’t know the dirty secrets about the cruise ships before went so we had a lovely time as passengers (ignorant bliss). My partner and I met lots of interesting Aussies, had lots of good food, wine and entertainment.

cruise shipuxury

I was concerned about the staff who seemed to be working 12 hours shifts or more. I was concerned that none of the staff were employed from Australia and that they paid no taxes in Australia yet they were operating from Australia and supplying services to the more than 90% of the passengers who were from Australia.

I am concerned that the cruise liner companies pay little or no tax on the $1.2 billion tourist industry in Australia mainly because of a loop hole in our taxation legislation and archaic conventions between countries about transport by sea.

I am concerned that the cruise ship company that I travelled on has the worse environmental record of all the cruise companies operating around the world according to the latest Friends of the Earth report. They don’t tell you these things when you book a cruise.

In a future blog I’ll discuss what I found out about how global Warming is affecting the people of Vanuatu and nearby Islands.

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Des Pensable

Des is a native of Sydney where he currently lives with his partner Joanne. He has a PhD in neuroscience and worked as a biomedical scientist where he published widely in several areas of science. Since retiring, he’s been a keen writer of poetry, stories and philosophy which appear on his web, blog site and on line literary publications. He is also a performance poet that appears regularly in venues around Sydney.

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