The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) has announced their 2011 "Dinosaur of the Year" award. The Dino of the Year trophy goes to people or companies of public interest, intended to draw attention to "the most ridiculous statement or anachronistic decision in connection with Nature and the Environment."
This year's dinosaurs are the cruise ship industry. The German-based NABU singled out cruise lines AIDA and TUI, based in Germany, as the representatives of their branch.
NABU President Olaf Tschimpke claims cruise ships emit particle pollution equivalent to 5 million cars driving the same distance as the cruise ship travels. NABU notes in particular that there is money for every sort of convenience and luxury for guests on board, but no investment has been made in switching cruise ships from heavy fuel oil or outfitting the ships with particle filters, to reduce the pollution emission rates. Also according to NABU,
the 15 largest cruise ships emit as much sulfur dioxide pollution annually as all 760 million cars in the world.
An AIDA spokesperson points the public to the annual AIDA Corporate Sustainability Report, where environmental efforts and successes are made transparent for all customers. AIDA voluntarily uses heavy fuel oil with sulfur content lower than 0.1%, well below what international standards require.
Cruise Ship Pollution in Norwegian Fjord
NABU's anti-award highlights not only the sulfurous emissions but the effects of particle pollution in the environments of natural beauty and species diversity 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. Maybe eco-friendly cruising needs a second look.