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At the end of January, the movie ‘Seablind’ by Bernice Notenboom premiered at the film festival in Rotterdam (Netherlands). It is a revealing movie that hopefully rouses the social indignation regarding black carbon.

 

I have never realised that the problem with regard to black carbon was this big. To me, that was the eye-opener of this movie,’ director Tjerk Wagenaar of Nature and Environment said after the movie Seablind by Bernice Notenboom had finished.

Black carbon, also called soot, is released in large quantities because the large seagoing vessels use heavy bunker oil. This is oil from the cesspits of the oil industry, the cheapest and dirtiest oil available.

Seventeen container ships emit the same amount of sulphur annually as all the cars on earth. And a cruiseship emits just as much soot daily as 1 million cars.

It only swirls through the air for approximately three weeks but because it also descends on the glaciers and snow plains of the North and the South Pole, the sunlight will no longer be reflected. This results in an accelerated melting process.

Notenboom, known for her travels across the North and the South Pole and her ascension of the Mount Everest (she was the second Dutch woman who conquered the mountain) sets her sights on the shipping industry in the revealing and compelling documentary Seablind.

Notenboom, who blogged for Vrij Nederland from the climate conference in Paris, described the shipping industry itself as ‘the most unregulated, secretive and polluting industry in the world’. However, it is this industry that transports ninety percent (!) of all the goods we sit on, we build with, we eat, we wear, and so on. Big problem, according to Notenboom: the international sea belongs to everybody, and the legislation is sluggish because consensus has to be reached on every rule by all 170 countries.

It is distressing that an agreement was concluded during the climate conference in Paris on limiting the global warming, a major breakthrough, but that regulation of the aviation and shipping industry fell through at the last moment. The International Chamber of Shipping stated that it was very well capable of taking its own responsibility. Notenboom was not so sure about that: ‘One thing has become clear to me: we cannot leave these industries without supervision and expect them to solve the climate issues themselves.’