October 5, 2020

Covid Pandemic~Cruise Ships Being Docked & Destroyed


Cruise ships have a life of thirty years before they need to be revamped.

But in Liaga Turkey which is just north of Izmir on the Turkish coast there has been a surprising increase in cruise ships being beached here to be wrecked.  One of the cruise ships being scrapped is the former Sovereign of the Seas, the first mega cruise ship launched in 1988 with 2,278 passengers.

Other ships being wrecked include the MS Monarch, Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Inspiration.

In March 2020 American authorities issued a no-sail order for all cruise ships that remains in place.”  Cruise ships were one of the first places that the Covid pandemic appeared.

Where  previously the wrecking yards at Aliaga focused upon freighter ships, cruise ships have become a major part of the dismantling operation. It takes 2,500 workers six months to take apart a passenger ship, with ship’s furnishing recycled to hotel operators.

The volume of dismantled steel has almost doubled to 1.2 million tons since January.

The cruise industry generates about 200 billion dollars in global economic activity and provides one million jobs.

This YouTube video below by Chris Frame describes the scrapping process and how some of the items from ships, including full panelled dining rooms are reused ashore.


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Some observations and commentary on these curious and conflicting times, as seen on a ride from Kits to the West End.

On Overdose Awareness Day, hundreds of shoes tied to the Burrard Bridge ballustrade:


Under the bridge, a notification, with overlaid commentary, on the Squamish Senakw project:


Under the Cambie Bridge, some rhyming, scathing observations:


In the West End’s Jim Deva Plaza, colour-coordinated opinion:


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Compiled from a selection of Gord’s Instagram posts as he travels through the Okanagan.

Almost at the end of a two-week return to the Okanagan and Kootenays, following routes my family took in the 1960s. As I sit down for dinner at an Indian restaurant patio off Baker Street in Nelson’s heritage downtown, I do have one big observation.

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Highway 1 to Hope, Highway 3 to Osoyoos. First impression: it hasn’t changed. Still the same fields of summer crops, still the same backdrop of narrowing mountain ranges, still the same congestion where the industrial parks and shopping malls hug the highway, still some of the same roadside attractions. Then a rising highway into the coast ranges and a subtle shift from fir to spruce to pine. But no billboards, strip malls, or spiring signs to mark the next gas station and McDonald’s. So not I-5. Notably, there’s still only the same small town halfway along – #Princeton. Which, except for an attempt to spiffy up the two main streets, pretty much matches up with my memory. How extraordinary that so much has stayed the same for so long.

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PT: In May, I had a hunch.

If Dr. Henry approved, this would be a great summer to take a road trip – a great circle through the southern Okanagan.  And I probably wouldn’t be alone as other Lower Mainlanders came to the same conclusion.  So I booked out two weeks of accommodation and restaurants.

I figured, in the year of the virus, in my final decades, it was time for a retracing of steps.

My memories of boyhood summers involve cherries, warm lake water, bunchgrass and ponderosa pine, and the kind of landscapes they make jigsaw puzzles out of.

But those memories of the Okanagan in August were only possible because, beginning in the mid-Sixties, Premier WAC Bennett willed the BC Ferries into being and Highways Minister Phil Gaglardi paved the roads to create the demand.  My family was part of that demand, when my father could now drive us from Victoria to Skaha Lake in a single day.  From rain forest to desert.  Over mountain passes in a new Pontiac.  Tent trailor attached.

Now I’d return to those places, and compare memory from the mid-20th century with the valley in the 21st – taking an urbanist perspective to the small towns, the tourist beaches, the vineyards and orchards, the retirement suburbs, and the emerging metropolis of the mid-Okanagan.  Then on to Revelstoke, Nelson and the loop back home.

I’ll be photographing and posting along the way.  For the next two weeks, follow me @pricetags on Instagram.

And send me suggestions, observations and worthy detours in the Comments.


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The Pandemic & Climate Change
Can COVID-19 get us to respond to the climate crisis?

City Conversations continues in a live online format while we continue physically distancing!

The international response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that humans can react quickly when their health is threatened. Another great threat to humanity–and to the planet–is climate change. But unlike COVID-19’s immediate threat, most people and governments have been unwilling to take action against a threat whose current impacts may be less apparent. So, is it time to rethink and reframe climate change as a threat to public health?

At this online event, we’ll hear from urbanist and former Vancouver City Councillor Gord Price and economist/entrepreneur Michael Brown, who both contributed to the 1990 report Clouds of Change, one of the earliest civic studies of global warming. Representing a newer generation of climate activists, we’ll also hear from Adriana Laurent-Seibt of UBC Climate Hub and Rebecca Hamilton of Sustainabiliteens.

This event will be hosted online. After you register, you will receive instructions for logging into the online event via email.


Wednesday, June 17

12:00 PM

Hosted online.
Free event | Registration required




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Sullivan, a columnist with New York magazine (and an early blogger – one of the best before it became too great a burden), provides some helpful perspective for our time by comparing it to year of the London plague (one year before the Great Fire):

Historians now rank the 1665 plague as the worst of that century (though much less severe than the Black Death of 1348). By September, as it peaked, there were 7,000 deaths a week. In COVID-19, the fatality rate is around one percent. In London in 1665, in a matter of seven months, around a quarter of the population perished. The number is vague because so many records were destroyed by the Great Fire of London, which broke out a year later. But it’s still staggering. A rough equivalent today would be 4 million deaths in the New York City metro area this year alone — with no real medical care, and people dropping dead on the streets.

Now imagine that after the deaths of those 4 million, much of Manhattan were to be burned to the ground by a massive and uncontrollable fire. That’s what Londoners had to handle in just two years: a pandemic of far greater scope than ours, and a conflagration that amounted to 9/11 several times over. And it was not the end of the world.

In fact, in just a couple of years, the population of the city had rebounded. The massive fire had killed much of the rodent population that had been spreading the fleas behind the plague. London was rebuilt, stone replaced wood, and Christopher Wren was brought in to design and replace the old Saint Paul’s Cathedral and over a dozen other landmarks of the city to this day.

What must have felt like an apocalypse of plague and fire became, with astonishing speed, a new city, forged anew by communal trauma, and soon to be the most powerful capital in the world. And somehow, Pepys lived through all of it, face-to-face with death, and never stopped living, maintaining a stoic cheerfulness and humor throughout. And today, in the richest country on Earth, with medical technology beyond Pepys’s wildest imagination, and a plague killing a tiny fraction of the population, some are wielding weapons in public to protest being asked to stay at home for a few more weeks and keep a social distance. Please. Get a grip.

Full column here.

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Richard Florida’s observation, in M GEN: “The Harsh Future of American Cities”:

Much of our current aversion to crowds will dissipate with time.

… after the 1918–1919 flu pandemic, it took five or six years until people got comfortable taking trains again but that ultimately they did. “There was short-term adaptation and then no long-term change,” Florida said.

This American Experience episode on the 1918 Influenza pandemic takes that observation about trains to its global conclusion: humanity pretty much forgot about the pandemic altogether.  At least it dropped from the storyline of our 20th-century experience, very much secondary to wars, depressions and social changes.  We know dates like 1914, 1929, 1939, 1967 …  but 1918 not so much.

So which kind of date will 2020 be?


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