It is surreal to re-enter the U.S. after a week-long cruise through some of the Antilles’ Third World islands and hear the Goracle-Media echo chamber bleating about global warming as the world’s greatest challenge.
Greens, of course, use the world’s islands as poster-children for the destructive effects of rising sea waters, but climate change is the least of the Caribbean islands’ worries. What these poor economies crave is more fossil fuel, not less.
Walk the streets of Samana, Dominican Republic or St. John’s, Antigua and you are quickly confronted with families huddled in road-side shacks, small children with no clothes, and stray dogs and chickens everywhere. In Samana, utility poles stop at the small town’s edge, starving its suburbs — much less the countryside — of electricity. In Antigua, Barbados, Tortola, and other Caribbean islands, two-cycle motorbikes are a common form of transportation.
And yet these islands are growing thanks to an influx of massive, 3000-berth, 120,000-ton, five-diesel-engine cruise ships (consuming 2,800 gallons of fuel per hour) like the one aboard which my family traveled.
Tourism is the Antilles’ number one industry. And the cruise industry feeds it — increasing the number of passengers from 1.4 million to 9.7 million in just the last 25 years. Worldwide, the number of passengers has jumped 30 percent since 2000, most of them traveling on large diesel ships. These monsters now make up 90 percent of the cruise liners currently under construction (nine are built per year – that’s 45 20,000-HP diesel engines) with passengers expected to double by 2020.
Of course, in order to transport these masses to their diesel ships, other forms of fossil-fuel transportation are also growing — from airplane flights to Miami (the largest port of embarkation), to islands teeming with rental cars, to thousands of boats transporting tourists to beaches and coral reefs, to more coal plants under construction to feed hotels and investment properties (coal plants are celebrated there as far cheaper sources of energy than the isles’ traditional dependence on liquid fuels for utility power).
And who are the tourists driving all this growth? The same rich Baby Boomers that Gore claims support him in his moral mission to dramatically curtail our energy use.