Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yachts and Sustainability

Last year Mukti Mitchell sailed around Britain in a zero-emission yacht of his own design to promote a low carbon lifestyle. ( ) His innovative boat was exhibited at the Southampton Boat Show with much approval by the Show’s promoters who gave lip service to his achievement. Following close upon the heels of the Show the same promoters of the London Boat Show made no mention of this pressing issue of a low carbon lifestyle. Anyone visiting the Excel ‘spectacular’ could not fail to be amazed at the number of huge motor yachts and sailing yachts on display. My reaction was to feel sick because of the lack of understanding of the rich who buy these plastic toys to gratify their whims. Furthermore I was astonished that Ellen MacArthur could fall into the trap that she believes she is able to ‘make a better world’ (her own words) by promoting a campaign for us all to reduce our carbon footprints. She is as blind as the rest of us.

Her personal blog ( ) is full of the savings in carbon emissions her companies have achieved, which in itself is laudable, but like those who build, market and sell super yachts, she fails to understand that by living the lifestyle of jetting here and there, promoting ocean yacht racing and encouraging the growth of the yachting industry, she defeats the very purpose she sets out to attain.

She and all of us, if we care, can do very little to make a great difference to this ecological issue of sustainability. This is not defeatism; it is a fact. How many of us live by the principle of only consuming what we need? If I were to do it, I would not even own or sail my tiny 14’ yacht which is no more polluting than Mukti Mitchell’s boat. My lifestyle would require a drastic change. I would not contemplate adding an engine to the boat, neither would I plan taking her by road behind my petrol guzzling car. The truth is that very few of us are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary for the benefit of our offspring and future generations. We are blinded by our material world of possessions and our greed for more. Trapped by the culture of our age we cannot escape. Who can convince us that we do not need yachts, neither do we need cars? Who can convince us that our world would be a better place without them?

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