Earth to CNN: No, a nuclear powered superyacht won’t save the world
Who would have thought that a sexy nuclear superyacht could save us from a climate catastrophe? That was the great news from CNN’s travel agent yesterday.
CNN wasn’t alone. Forbes, BBC Science Focus Magazine, and a host of other media outlets have previously touted the global salvation potential of what CNN called “a zero-emission mega-ship that will bring climate scientists and the rich together on a daring mission to save the planet.” . “
“Pit together” sounds like a fitting description of a supposed amalgamation of luxury tourism and climate protection. You can sum these two things up in one sentence, but in the real world they mix as easily as oil and water.
And there is another big problem with the plan for this inflated 300-meter ship and its global research: Earth 300, as the $ 700 million super yacht is called, is powered by a molten salt nuclear reactor that does not yet exist and wins’ not be certified for at least five years. The company’s website illustrates the reactor with a full-scale model of an experiment conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s.
The website also says that scientists aboard Earth 300 will have the world’s first ocean-going quantum computer. But that too still has to be built.
Meanwhile, the climate crisis needs immediate attention. “We really don’t have any more time,” warned UN Secretary General António Guterres this month.
While waiting for a modular nuclear reactor that may never come, Earth 300 developers say they will use green synthetic fuels. These are liquid fuels made from coal or natural gas in a process that scavenges carbon. However, they are significantly more expensive than fossil fuels. Aaron Olivera, the entrepreneur behind Earth 300, told CNN that he plans to “possibly” retrofit the yacht with a reactor manufactured by UK company Core Power in collaboration with TerraPower, a US nuclear technology company chaired by Bill Gates, being developed.
Worldwide there are at least 171 motorized mega yachts that are 75 meters (246 feet) or more in length. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, is supposed to buy a super yacht so big that it will have a dock for his own “support yacht”. Eclipse, an even larger superyacht owned by Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, has its own anti-missile defense system. The largest yacht currently in service, Azzam, is 180 meters (590 feet) long and consumes 13 tons of fuel per hour at a top speed of 33 knots. That’s about 0.01 miles (or just over 50 feet) per gallon.
Earth 300 would be much bigger.
And the customers Olivera wants to attract – the richest people in the world – also usually have the largest carbon footprint in the world, not least thanks to their habit of traveling aboard superyachts and private planes. According to calculations by two researchers at Indiana University, a superyacht with a permanent crew and a helicopter landing pad is “by far the worst good you can own from an ecological point of view”.
The Earth 300’s luxury suites are each rented for $ 300,000 per day, which is expected to cover the staff and costs required to operate the ship and its 22 science laboratories. But construction won’t begin until 2025 at the earliest, and breakthrough scientific discoveries or billions in revelations that could help stabilize the climate lie even further in the future.
Construction of another 600-foot yacht that combines climate research with charter for paying customers is already delayed. Funded by Kjell Inge Røkke, a Norwegian billionaire who made his fortune fishing and oil drilling, REV Ocean will study climate change and ocean acidification, plastic pollution and overfishing, but the charitable project is at least three years behind schedule.
Who will be on board these super yachts? CNN asked Olivera what famous people he would be welcoming on his future ship, and he named Elon Musk, Michelle Obama, Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein and Yvon Chouinard. Like the superyacht itself, some of these potential guests seem ambitious rather than realistic.
The richest 1% causes twice as much CO2 emissions as the poorest 50%.
“We need to reduce excessive consumption, and the best place to start is excessive consumption among the polluting elites who contribute far more than their share of CO2 emissions.” Https://t.co/0bEwESnE9O
– Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) April 13, 2021
Greta Thunberg does not take planes or motor yachts. Elon Musk is not on vacation. And Bill Gates could be hurt that he’s not on the A-list.