Or the truth about the consequences of not switching back to wind powered transport.
90% of the day-to-day products used in the western world (N. America, Europe etc) have been imported, mostly from over-seas.
This includes not only exotic goods like coffee, tea and spices but also basic products such as grain, beans, wood, fuel and of course our consumer goods like the endless mountains of electrical appliances, plastics, clothes and everything else you can think of.
Why do we transport so much?
The reason why almost everything we buy, eat or use has originated in another place is that shipping has become so efficient, with large scale economic backing, that containerization and online logistic systems have virtually eliminated shipping costs.
This makes it possible for every entrepreneur to out-source to other countries and find the cheapest and least regulated production facilities. By doing this the costs of production drops, below any local producer, and make it more economically feasible to pay a cheaper price for the same item which has been produced abroad. The local product will soon be priced out of the market and its industry will cease to exist. With low shipping costs, that same cheap product can be transported to the major markets across the globe and remain economical for the merchant.
The whole system is a perfect storm of the combined forces of capitalism and global economy. With as a result you get the lowest possible price and the highest possible consumption.
The 50,000+ active cargo-carrying motor ships, the work horses of this logistical system, have a huge negative impact on air quality among many other things.
Sixteen of the biggest motor cargo ships emit as much sulphur as all the cars in the world combined. Those shipping emissions are deemed responsible for 50,000 pre-mature deaths annually from cancer and other illnesses. The shipping industry is responsible for emitting an amount of Green House Gasses comparable to a large country like Germany.
Yet, the real problem of this system of logistics is not just the GHG emissions. It is far worse: it is the unbelievable rocket-rise of consumerism and the demise of self-sustainable local economies, and all the damage to our ecosystems, climate and social relationships over-consumption brings along.
Image : russiansails2020.ru
Bringing a solution
The re-introduction of sail power and the decline of transport by mechanical means would mean the costs of shipping would become fair again. Not only fair for the current generation of consumers but fair for the unborn generations to come.
This would take an astonishing but achievable revolution in transport and would require freight carriers and ship-owners to put clean propulsion technologies in the top tiers of their priorities. It should be considered the only morally responsible course of development in this field. This would give human (and non-human) societies a chance to not be wiped out by ecological disaster caused by our own economic system.
And yes it would mean a re-awakening and not only in the economic sense…
Thanks for signing on,
Following seas and royals all the way!
Captain Jorne Langelaan