Action Alert: Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Action Alert
Please Take 5 Minutes to Protect Alaska’s Waters from Cruise Ship Dumping

Background

Cruise ships are floating cities that produce and discharge large volumes of sewage and other harmful wastes.  In 2006, Alaska voters passed a statewide ballot initiative requiring cruise ships to reduce their pollution dumping in Alaskan waters (i.e., from the shoreline out to 3 miles).  In response, cruise ship lobbyists pushed through legislation in 2009 to establish an industry-dominated “Science Panel,” which immediately set out gathering information to weaken the 2006 citizen initiative (industry lobbyists excluded the most knowledgeable public interest voice in Alaska from the panel because they did not want any opposition to their pollution rollback plans). [Read more...]

Great Whales Still Face Grave Threats

by Gershon Cohen, Ph.D.  — Co-Director, Great Whale Conservancy

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

A magnificent Blue Whale fluke (Image courtesy of Michael Fishbach, Great Whale Conservancy)

The Great Whales need our help.  They face multiple threats today in many parts of the world: “scientific whaling,” ship strikes, habitat encroachment, decreasing food supplies, ocean acidification, etc.; it is up to us to take on these threats and do what we can to protect these magnificent, sentient beings.

The Great Whale Conservancy was created in 2010 to answer this call, and the first problem we are focusing on is the ship strike issue that plagues whales in oceans around the planet –where great whales and cargo ships, oil tankers, and cruise ships try to occupy the same place at the same time.  The whales have no choice: they need to follow their food and consumes tons of protein every day to survive.  The ships have a choice: they can adjust their transits to minimize the time they spend in Great Whale habitat. [Read more...]

Lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon: Unlearned and Now Unleashed in Alaska

Shell's Kulluk platform aground at Stikalidak Island, Alaska

Shell’s Kulluk platform aground at Sitkalidak Island, Alaska (USCG Photo)

Just a short time ago the world was mesmerized by a mile-deep live feed of an unstoppable tempest of brown crude and an unprecedented frenzy of human activity undertaking desperate, inadequate attempts to halt the flow and skim, burn, disperse, and boom the rest. In the countless hearings by Congress and the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that would follow, talk of a cold, distant frontier was unavoidable:  The chilling thought of such a disaster occurring in the Arctic, where remoteness, vastness, heavy weather and unforgiving seas combine to make even simple tasks at sea profoundly more difficult. In the face of the largest oil spill in history, many of us found consolation in that we were finally paying attention to the perils of offshore drilling and these lessons would finally be learned.

What BP Deepwater Horizon illustrated vividly was that civilization’s striking advances in deepwater drilling have far outpaced its ability to clean up should a disaster occur. Perhaps the most chilling of all the Congressional testimony was the revelation by oil company CEOs that the essence of their plan for dealing with a catastrophic oil spill was to not have a catastrophic oil spill. A great idea on paper, but in the real world, an arrogant denial of the limits of technology, human error, and Mother Nature’s merciless power. [Read more...]