Polluting Beauty


Three thick white streaks form against the blue sky over Gastineau Channel. One of the streaks is connected to the stack of a Princess cruise ship. It has just pulled in behind two other cruise ships that have already docked.  Their emissions are the only visible, man-made pollutants that poison our clean air.


After seeing the smoke lines from the Douglas Island Bridge, I drive with Aki to the Gastineau Meadows trailhead. The pollution is also visible from the meadow, showing a kind of industrial beauty in the way it coalesces on the slopes of Sheep Mountain.


I resent the cruise industry’s decision to use the cheaper fuel in their Alaska bound ships and wonder whether they could reduce their emissions by using city power rather than that produced by their boilers when tied up to our docks.  They won’t change so I spend the rest of the walk looking for small shows of beauty, finding it backlit flowers and the orange needles of damaged pine trees.


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