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I’ve always seen The Nation cruise as somewhat of an oxymoron: a bunch of well-heeled progressives floating around the sea on a mammoth ship discussing how to change the state of our dying planet. Aside from the truly bourgeois nature of most cruise liners, with their gluttonous buffets and lustrous ballrooms — their collective environmental destruction alone should be enough to steer anyone clear of booking a trip. And now I’ve just found out that Ralph Nader, of all people, is supporting such a horrible industry, not to mention the magazine that has flogged him so hard, so many times.
That’s right, maverick consumer advocate Ralph Nader has been booked as a guest speaker for this year’s Nation get-away. The Nation magazine does offer its participants a buy-in option to “reforest an area in Guatemala recently devastated by mudslides, planting enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by each Nation cruise passenger.” While this may sound reasonable, Carnival cruise liners — which owns the Nation’s liner of choice, Holland America — has been sited for numerous environmental damages over the years. The carbon credits will never offset the damage cruise liners do, nor repair the damage they have already done.
Carnival, one of the world’s largest cruise operators, holds a virtual monopoly in the business and is responsible for most of the industry’s environmental violations. In 2001 the popular Dawn Princess of Carnival’s Princess Cruise line, struck and killed a humpback whale. The company was fined $750,000 for the incident last month. In 2004 Holland America was fined $10,000 after Former Vice President, Richard K. Softye plead guilty to falsely certifying the company’s environmental audits. Softye was ordered 450 hours of community service and three years probation.
Alas, that’s not even the worst of the company’s recent environmental offenses. In August of 2002 Holland America was fined $2 million after 40,000 gallons of sewage sludge, likely full of human fecal matter, was discharged into an Alaskan harbor near Juneau. A year earlier, in an April 2002 plea agreement, Carnival paid a total of $18 million in fines and court ordered fees after the company pled guilty to discharging tons of oily waste near the Florida coast from 1996 to 2001. The company also pled guilty to falsifying their Oil Record Books in order to conceal its practices of improperly using pollution prevention equipment that was responsible for the illegal discharge.
And the list goes on. So why is The Nation, one of the most popular progressive magazines in the country, even supporting the cruise line industry that is so flooded with gross environmental abuses? More importantly, why is Ralph Nader, the great crusader against corporate crime and abuse, supporting such an enterprise? While I won’t assume that the publisher and editors of The Nation know any better, surely Nader does.
So this is a call to Mr. Ralph Nader. Bow out in protest and oppose Carnival’s environmental crimes by ditching your seat on The Nation’s cruise.
JOSHUA FRANK is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits www.BrickBurner.org