, , , ,  Click here to return to home.
|Commentary: Good ideas are never bad ideas; they just await their time.|
Eighty-eight years ago American industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958) modelled his vision of an ocean passenger liner. He may not have been thinking sails, rotors, solar panels or fuel cells but without question he was thinking streamlining, scale and aesthetics.
When contrasted to ship design trends of his time, such as plumb bow, fantail or cruiser stern, sqared-off superstructures and stove-pipe smokestaks, Bel Geddes' concept of a trans-oceanic greyhound was outlandish. Yet,in the decade leading up to the centenial of his design, many of Bel Geddes' ideas will become reality, starting (again) with the notion the ship should be a thing of graceful proportion and uncompromised beauty.
Trend line followers and status quo defenders take note: Bel Geddes was not a naval architect and did not work in the maritime industry. True, it has taken a long time for the world to carch up to his thinking, but change is coming faster now due to climate crisis. Dreamers are dismissed until they are vindicated, then they are called visionaries.
Save for fold-down solar sails, similarities between Peace Boat's Ecoship and Bell Geddes' model are striking. This is credit to both. Bel Geddes ideas awaited their time, which is now.
The main difference between Bel Geddes and Ecoship is that Ecoship is likely to be built. Besides its stunning aesthetics and green technology, a more subtle departure from current trends is its smaller size. This is not only desirable from a propulsion standpoint (renewable energy sources can provide a higher percentage of a smaller ship's propulsive requirement), it also will appeal to a new kind of passenger.
New metrics that incorporate environmental impact are coming to all industries. On the heels of new ballast water regulations, marritime companies are now grappling with much lower limits on air emissions. The future will belong to those that willingly and imaginatively exceed minimum standards. Peace Boat is betting on a discerning passenger / program participant who will pay for harmony, scale, beauty and defense of the environment. TransTech / ShipShares believe they are correct and will be rewarded ... that's rewarded as in market support AND a healthier planet. Bravo!