A panel of climate change experts and concerned locals discuss climate issues facing Alaska at the Hangar Ballroom on Monday, Aug. 21. From left: Doug Woodby, co-chair of climate action group @350 Juneau, Gretchen Keiser, a member of @350 Juneau’s steering committee, and Michael T. Klare, defense correspondent for The Nation. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

A panel of climate change experts and concerned locals discuss climate issues facing Alaska at the Hangar Ballroom on Monday, Aug. 21. From left: Doug Woodby, co-chair of climate action group @350 Juneau, Gretchen Keiser, a member of @350 Juneau’s steering committee, and Michael T. Klare, defense correspondent for The Nation. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Cruisers come to see ‘front lines’ of climate change

Locals talk what to do about climate issues with cruising The Nation Magazine correspondents

Seeing the effects of climate change on Alaska first hand — its melting glaciers and receding shorelines — can serve as a visceral reminder for what’s at stake for a state warming twice as fast as the global average.

But discussing a dire climate outlook isn’t always part of the on-shore program for cruisers to the 49th state.

Not so for a group visiting Juneau on Monday. The Nation Magazine’s 21st Annual Seminar Cruise stopped in Juneau on Monday. The politically progressive outlet held a climate change panel discussion with correspondents and members of local climate action group @ 350 Juneau.

The Last Frontier is on the ‘front lines’ of climate change, said John Nichols, a national affairs correspondent for The Nation who’s reported from Alaska.

“We have a state in our country that is threatened by something that we all talk about. They (Alaskans) are living it,” Nichols said.

About 300 attended the cruise on Holland America Line’s Eurodam this week. Two correspondents from the magazine and its editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, joined @350 co-chair Doug Woodby and steering committee member Gretchen Keiser for a discussion of climate issues facing Alaska.

The cruises have a loyal following. Many cruisers have attended multiple The Nation cruises, and greeted one another by name in the ballroom. Onboard the Eurodam, they held seminars on national defense issues and the future of the Arctic. The cruise also stopped in Juneau in 2007.

“I would not be on a cruise,” if the nation wasn’t doing it, said cruiser Ann Martin.

The cruises are a big part of sustaining the magazine financially, said vanden Heuval. But they also invigorate the network of readers who support it. It’s a trend that’s caught on with the publishing industry. The New York Times offers “Foreign Affairs Afloat at Cherry Blossom Time in Japan” and an “Antarctica and Climate Change” cruise.

The trips have given rise to hand-wringing among media watchers. To understand the world, travelers often have to see it. Getting there means burning fossil fuels.

Vanden Heuval acknowledged that there’s a tension between travel and climate change, but said it’s important for her that travelers take back what they see and learn in Alaska to their hometowns, she said.

“There is an irony, a tension, but the cruise is the largest supporter of our journalism. Our journalism tries to move people to activism, to inform people and to get them to think hard about what they can do,” vanden Heuval said.

Defense correspondent Michael T. Klare agreed.

“I think the cruise can educate people in a way that they never would have before to learn about Alaska’s environmental problems,” Klare said.

The Empire sat down with three cruisers after the seminar. They echoed Klare and vanden Heuval’s sentiments: the fossil fuels expended during travel can be worth it — if a traveler is determined to make a difference with what they learn on the journey.

“The good that comes outweighs the fuels we’re expending,” cruiser Ann Martin said.

Libby Carr, a financial adviser Washington state, said she’s putting immigration activist friends she’s met on the cruise in touch with immigration attorneys she knows.

The trip is full of real “movers and shakers” in progressive politics, she said.

Retired Seattle couple Ann and H. Tony Martin, both on their fourth The Nation cruise, said they sometimes buy additional carbon offset options offered when they travel, though they lamented they couldn’t do so on the Holland America cruise.

During their day in Juneau, the Martins walked around downtown, visiting the state capital, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and the whale sculpture on the Downtown Seawalk.

The Martins make an effort in their Seattle home to leave a small carbon footprint. Solar panels help them use about 90 percent renewable energy. It’s a trade off they’re happy to make to help balance out the fossil fuels they burn while traveling.

“We change how we use energy to have a good standard of living,” Ann Martin said.


• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


More in News

In this July 13, 2007, file photo, workers with the Pebble Mine project test drill in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, near the village of Iliamma. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Pebble developer files appeal with Army Corps

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Limited Partnership’s application in November.

This August 2019 photos shows a redline at Treadwell Arena designed by Tsimshian artist Abel Ryan. The arena is adding new weekly events to its schedule, City and Borough of Juneau announced. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Treadwell Arena adds new weekly events

Hockey and open skate are on the schedule.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 22

The most recent state and local numbers.

A Coast Guard Station Juneau 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Auke Bay during an exercise in 2018. A response boat similar to the one in the photo was struck by a laser near Ketchikan on Saturday, Jan. 17, prompting an investigation into the crime. (Lt. Brian Dykens / U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard wants information after laser pointed at boat

“Laser strikes jeopardize the safety of our boat crews…”

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Thursday, Jan. 21

The most recent state and local numbers.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses the public during a virtual town hall on Sept. 15, 2020 in Alaska. ( Courtesy Photo / Austin McDaniel, Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy pitches dividend change amid legislative splits

No clear direction has emerged from lawmakers.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom, right, wearing a bib with ExxonMobil lettering on it, congratulates Peter Kaiser on his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska. The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor as the Iditarod prepares for a scaled-back version of this year’s race because of the pandemic, officials said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. ExxonMobil confirmed to The Associated Press that the oil giant will drop its sponsorship of the race. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
ExxonMobil becomes latest sponsor to sever Iditarod ties

The world’s most famous sled dog race has lost another major sponsor.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read