Finding Inspiration in Trans-Oceanic Innovation

Two reports of ocean-crossing innovation breathe new life into the old addage that necessity spurs invention. The first is the completion last Thursday of the maiden 11,952-nautical mile voyage of a sail-assisted cargo ship. According to Hamburg-based Beluga Skysails, the tug of the 160-square meter kite saved about $1,000/day worth of bunker fuel.

The second proof of our capacity to think innovatively is Japanese adventurer Kenichi Horie’s departure from Hawaii on a wave-powered boat. Yes, that’s right: equipment Horie’s boat absorbs the vertical motion of waves hitting the bow into dolphin and converts this energy into dolphin kicks at the stern to propel the boat forward. He figures he’ll reach Japan, 4,400 miles away, by about June. A novelty, you might say? I guess many people said the same thing to Beluga Skysails.

I’ve often said that the accelerating exploitation of Alberta’s tarsands is living proof of peak oil. These innovations are living proof that human society can adapt to a carbon-constrained world. 

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