[Server-sky] The satellite-broadband-connected ocean liner - partial substitute for air travel?

Michael Turner michael.eugene.turner at gmail.com
Thu Jul 11 00:53:02 UTC 2013

(Originally posted to the LinkedIn group, "Global Sustainable Tourism
Network", with light editing since then.)

I help run a small, traditional-style inn in central Tokyo. The inn is
a wooden structure, dating mostly from the 1950s, so I can say we're
at least sequestering some carbon. :-)

However, most of our guests reach our door after a considerable
commitment of jet fuel. I love air travel, and I love the tourism
industry, but this fossil fuel dependency troubles me. I doubt
biofuels can sustainably close the gap. Aircraft fuel economy is
continuously improving, but air travel seems to be growing at the same
rate, or faster.

The ocean liner would seem to make no sense now - why take weeks to
cross the Pacific when it can be done in less than a day? High-speed
air travel means that much less of overseas travel is taken up by
overhead of getting from one coast to another. However, air travel
also imposes a pretty significant GHG burden, and perhaps an
unsustainable one at current growth rates.

One solution might be to develop more maritime satellite broadband for
ocean-going cruise ships. The "knowledge worker" could telecommute
from the ship. People who work hands-on in the service sector might
simply keep working in that sector -- for example, if you do food prep
for Wendy's on land, you could also do it aboard. You'd just be
transferring to an on-board store for a while. And students could
simply keep on studying, "telecommuting" to their classes. Maritime
broadband, if made cheap enough and fast enough, could help make
overseas travel by ocean liner an option for a very broad range of

A look at the per-passenger GHG cost of current ocean liner travel
isn't very encouraging for my proposal. However, the purpose of these
ships is to provide entertainment and recreation for vacationers. The
kind of "working ship" I propose might be rather spartan by comparison
-- and much lower in GHG impact as a result.

Michael Turner

Project Persephone
K-1 bldg 3F
7-2-6 Nishishinjuku
Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 160-0023
Tel: +81 (3) 6890-1140
Fax: +81 (3) 6890-1158
Mobile: +81 (90) 5203-8682
turner at projectpersephone.org

"Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward
together in the same direction." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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