Carbon Fiber Hybrid Yacht is Decked Out With Wind Turbines: “The tang generates energy using propellers located under the sail, which turn a pair of 18-kilowatt propulsion motors that send electricity back to the batteries. Not only can this energy power the yacht’s propulsion systems, but also the luxurious interior, which features a 37 inch flat screen TV, a Bose entertainment system, LED lighting, a café-size espresso machine, two refrigerator-freezers, a dishwasher, and a water maker, among other amenities… (via Inhabitat.)
The tagline for the website Inhabitat is “Green Design Will Save the World.” This “carbon fiber hybrid yacht” shows the shallowness of that philosophy. But I don’t want to rail against Inhabitat, which I find consistently interesting and informative. And I’m sure (I hope) they don’t see their tagline as more than a catchy slogan – which it is – don’t mistake it for a complete solution. So, instead what I want to focus on is this yacht itself, what its creation and celebration seem to me to indicate – which is simply green consumerism at its worst.
The term “green consumerism” can cover a wide range of phenomena, may of them positive. We all need to be “green consumers” when we shop. But really greening our world, achieving some sort of sustainable, permaculture life(style), is going to be a bit more complicated than swapping out all our batteries for rechargeables, our lightbulbs for CFLs or LEDs, and making sure that our snacks come in compostable bags (hopefully quiet ones). Or sailing in hybrid luxury yachts rather than regular diesel ones.
Greening our consumerism, if it is to lead to a genuinely sustainable future, will have to include a fundamental rethink of consumerism, of the kind of things we think we need or have to have. And also of how those things are produced and distributed.
A wind-powered luxury yacht? The technology might be sweet, but there’s nothing green about this. To take just one example, our addiction to toys like that “37 inch flat screen TV” means that the United States’ energy consumption is the same now as it was 30 or 40 years ago, despite all the Energy Star-type improvements in efficiency. What we’ve saved with our refrigerator and washer, we’ve blown on our TVs and toys.
On a deeper level, yachts have always been emblems of wealth and privilege, and this “green design” yacht is no different. The structures of money and power that are driving us to ever increasing income inequalities are the same structures that are driving much of the climate change. They may enjoy driving us in hybrid vehicles, but that is the wrong direction to go if we want to save the world. Some people may see “green” when they look at this hybrid yacht, but all I see is the yacht, the privilege and waste. I see red.