Cruise Ships very bad for the environment, says BirdLife partner NABU

Fancy a nice cruise, sailing serenely through sparkling blue water, fresh air and the wind in your face, miles away from polluted cities and dirty streets? It seems that despite the glossy photos in the sales brochures, cruise ships are pollutors on a massive scale and to reflect that the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU – the German BirdLife Partner and one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany) has has presented their 2011 “Dinosaur of the Year” award to two representatives of the cruise ship industry.

This year’s ‘winners’ of NABU’s dinosaur awards are Michael Thamm, President of AIDA Cruises [eight ships, five of which weigh more than 69,000 tonnes with larger ones being built], and Richard J. Vogel, Chairman of TUI Cruises.

The similarly sized QE2 – which is now out of service – used 600 tons of fuel oil every twenty four hours, and had an equivalent miles per gallon usage of 49 feet per gallon! Modern ships are claimed to be more fuel-efficient, but NABU President Olaf Tschimpke claims that cruise ships, which are powered with low-grade diesel, emit particle pollution equivalent to 5 million cars driving the same distance as the cruise ship travels, and that the 15 largest cruise ships emit as much sulfur dioxide pollution annually as all 760 million cars in the world.


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You’d think that with the amount of smoke burning that much fuel produces AIDA would take every option to reduce pollution. Not so, according to Olaf Tschimpke, who says that while much of the artwork and photos on brochures are reworked to remove the smoke coming from the ship’s huge funnels, “AIDA, TUI and outdo themselves with elaborate art entertainment on board, nothing is too expensive to spend on restaurants, spas and casinos – but for a particulate filter there is supposedly no money…This is hypocrisy!”</p>
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NABU’s anti-environment award highlights not only the sulfurous emissions but the effects of particle pollution on the environment in locations visited by cruise ships. Black oil or diesel particle pollution falling on the white ice at the north and south poles in  particular has been blamed for increasing the heat absorption from  sunlight, contributing to the melting of glacial ice. </p>
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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I birded the world for twenty years before quitting my airline job and am now freelance. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores

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