After a weeklong struggle to dislodge the massive Ever Given Ship that remained stuck in the Suez Canal, there were jubilations when it finally roared back to life. The successful salvage came after technical experts spelled doom on the possibility of returning the ship on course any sooner. Most experienced salvagers who commented on the issue in leading media, including BBC, CNN, Aljazeera and CNBC among others, had argued that the process would take at least another week or even longer. This pessimistic proposition was even made more probable when professional maritime salvagers drawn from Netherlands and the Suez Canal Authority worked with highly technical tugboats and expert maneuvering techniques but still failed. It was not until nature worked in harmony with technology that the ship moved significantly. So what does the powerful hand of nature, the high tide attributed to the full moon which saved the world economy from gloom,
reflect about climate emergency?
Soon after the Suez Canal , an important global maritime trade route was declared impassable following the stalled Ever Given Ship, commodity prices including oil prices rose. Speculation of possible delays in supplies from Asian Markets to Europe and vice versa shocked global markets. Risk averse shippers decided to reroute to the longer route in the South Africa which meant higher costs of shipping and an estimated 12 days delay. Therefore, mother nature through the full moon that occasioned the high tide and floated the ship salvaged the global economy from more of such uncertain days in global shipping.
The events in the Suez Canal in which nature aligned with technology to realize a great milestone in maritime rescue calls for a critical reflection on how much technology, working alone can save the world from high magnitude risks. Climate change deniers posit that even if it’s true that the global temperatures are rising, technological developments would offset the effects. In fact, the role of technology in addressing climate emergency has subsequently been given prominence industrial design and operations.
Modern technologies including carbon capture and storage (CCS) have been pitched as being very potent for addressing climate change. But, if what happened in the Suez Canal is anything to go by, it should already be clear that technology may not provide solutions comparable to what nature based solutions offer for a warming climate.
Rescuing the Ever Given ship from the narrow Suez Canal is a reflection of how important it would be to involve nature in designing solutions to environmental issues that subtly or obviously have economic implications. Complementing technology with nature based solutions such as bioenergy, bioplastics, and afforestation would provide a tolerable solution to climate emergency. During desperate situations like what had befallen the Ever Given Ship and the global economy, even highly programmed technology may fail to yield anticipated results and the only sure solution becomes the powerful hands of nature.
Interestingly, credit has largely been heaped on the tugboats which are taunted to be highly powerful and other forms of technology deployed to the rescue process. This has meant that the issue of the full moon and high tide that played a priceless role on the last day of salvage operations is conveniently relegated to the back banner.
From an environmental economist perspective, the cost that nature offset in the salvage of Ever Given ship may go uncounted for in monetary terms but if valuing it would be possible, nobody would pay for it. Floating a massive ship loaded with over 20,000 containers is a task that only nature would deliver and it surely did.
On the other hand, if nature failed to align with technology, the world economy would for some time experience an unprecedented shock as a result of the blocked Suez Canal sea route. Corporates would lose colossal amounts and investments may have significantly gone down. Similarly, if business leaders abandon climate actin to scientists and fail to take their place in its restoration, there is no guarantee that it would save their businesses at a critical moment like the high tide did for Ever Given ship.
Image credit: “Waiting For High Tide” by Koshyk is licensed under CC BY 2.0