Can Massive Cargo Ships Use Wind to Go Green? June 24th, 2021. By Aurora Almendrahl

Cargo vessels belch almost as much carbon into the air each year as the entire continent of South America. Modern sails could have a surprising impact.

In 2011, Gavin Allwright was living in a village outside Fukushima, Japan, with his wife and three children, when a powerful tsunami destroyed the coastline, splintering homes into debris, crashing a 150-foot fishing boat into the roof of his wife’s parents’ house and setting off a power-plant accident that became the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Allwright had a background in sustainable development, especially as it relates to shipping. In his travels in East Africa and Bangladesh, he had watched traditional sails and masts replaced by outboard motors. The move locked people into a cycle of working to buy fuel, damaging their lives and the environment. In Japan, Allwright had been living a quiet life, running a sustainable farm and dabbling in consulting. Now, it seemed, environmental disaster had followed him there.

To escape the aftermath, the family moved to Allwright’s hometown on the outskirts of London. But Allwright couldn’t stop thinking about the Fukushima disaster. To him, it was a dramatic display of technology going wrong, further proof that the world we built is unsustainable.

Read more about cargo ship emissions



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