The cost of sailing

Just before launching last month, I took some pictures of the waste generated from Hello World’s renovation. Getting her ready required power, raw material and room in the landfill. Around Lake Michigan is a search for sustainable civilizations that utilized unsustainable technologies. That’s seems contradictory, was ALM a sham?

Renovating this boat took resources, it had a footprint. Was it a large or a small footprint? Until the final budget is tallied, there’s no real data to examine. That should be ready in the next few days, but in the meantime, I’ll elaborate on the premise.

Big Bear points out that wind turbine and solar panel factories are powered by coal and nuclear plants. That’s a significant footprint. He also suggests that solar panels cannot break even, they can never generate enough electricity to pay for their cost. If one takes into account their carbon and toxic cost as well as their monetary price, he might just be right. I don’t know. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that there was such a thing as a profitable solar panel, that after 10 years of operation, it would pay it’s total cost (carbon, toxic, monetary) back twice. That would mean that the panel paid for itself and paid for a second panel. If that were possible, wouldn’t it make sense to make these panels? We would be investing energy to make more energy, rather than just burning it up.

Hello World is an experiment and a sort of calculation. I create a solar powered transportation platform (sailboat) with a finite investment of energy and materials while generating a byproduct of garbage and carbon. I then sail 300 miles making minimal additional impact, finding and documenting low impact or perhaps even sustainable technologies and strategies. What would have to happen for Around Lake Michigan to break even and pay back the inital investment? If I never sail Hello World again, if I never find anything of value or I never share the documentation, what did those 300 miles cost? How far would I have to sail to make a ‘profit’? What would I need to find?

Perhaps just the process of calculation and accountability is enough of a discovery. We tend to think that sailboats and solar panels are easy on the earth, same goes for organic food and compact florescent bulbs. We shirk our responsibility by embracing generalizations rather than actually finding out for ourselves. It’s the training we’ve been given since birth – buy stuff. That’s the plug we’ve got to pull.

Anyway, I’m going through the posts and fleshing them out. The video is fully digested and ready to edit and post. Can’t wait to see where it’s all gonna go!

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