Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Luxury Fouls the Oceans Stern to Bow

Cruise ships are dirty top to bottom, stern to bow.  From the fossil fuel pollution they emit out their stacks to the sewage and the hazardous waste water they dump into the oceans.

What is the mantra?  The ocean is not a dump.  This is one example multiplied exponentially and it needs remedying. 

Imagine these floating cities with thousands of people...the waste they generate. 

Luxury cruise ships emit pollution through the stacks as they burn fossil fuels to run their engines and generate power.  According to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union through Just Means, the 15 largest cruise ships emit as much sulfur dioxide pollution annually as all 760 million cars in the world.

According to Friends of the Earth, a large vessel on a one week cruise generates: 

210,000 gallons of human sewage
1 million gallons of gray water (water from sinks, baths, showers, laundry, and galleys),
25,000 gallons of oily bilge water,
Up to 11,550 gallons of sewage sludge
More than 130 gallons of hazardous wastes.

Yuck. And most of this is dumped into the ocean, according to Just Means. Double yuck.

In addition to polluting the high seas and potentially pristine waters, cruise ships also deliver untreated ballast water, which can carry sea life from one place to another faraway place. 

Trouble is that when the foreign organism arrives in the new waters, it has no "enemies", no predators.  It runs hog wild.  That's called an invasive species, and they are trashing ecosystems all over the world.

Although not for me, many people enjoy cruises.  Everything taken care of, watered down adventure, carefully controlled comfort, common cuisine, etc. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency lists ways to lesson the impact of your cruise but they are kind of weak.  One of them is "use as little water as possible".

The best way to lesson your impact is to not go on cruises.  Or at least, find the greenest cruise ship you can.  When in doubt, remember the mantra: The ocean is not a dump.

For more information on cruise ship pollution, see the EPA's Cruise Ship Discharge Assessment.  Check out Ethical Traveler as well.

Image: Cruiselawnews

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