The Future of Shipping is Green and Autonomous
Space travel may be exciting, and self-driving cars certainly get a lot of hype.
However, there remains a good argument that the world’s oceans – and the ships that roam them – often get overlooked when it comes to advances in transportation technology.
How will shipping change in the coming years, and what trends can we look to for guidance on the future of shipping?
The Future of Shipping
Today’s infographic comes to us from Futurism, and it gives examples of ships already in production – or in the concept phase – that aim to make activity on the world’s oceans greener and more autonomous.
How does the future of shipping shape up?
There are two main trends that emerge from these upcoming ships: an increased use of alternative energy and higher levels of automation.
Fuel accounts for about half of the operating costs of the shipping industry – so the type of fuel used to move ships between ports is paramount. Since the 1960s, heavy fuel oil (HFO) has been the dominant choice for the industry. It’s cheap and plentiful, but it’s also extremely dirty.
Shipping today only produces 3% of carbon dioxide emissions – but it’s areas like sulphur (15% of global total) and particulate emissions (11% of total) that are considered a bigger problem.
As a result, the industry is not only moving to use cleaner oil-based fuels – but some companies are aiming to use alternative energy as well. In the ships above, you’ll see the addition of LNG and fuel cells, as well as the use of solar and wind to help power the future of shipping.
More Autonomous Ships
Ships won’t only be powered differently – they will be navigated and steered using artificial intelligence along with the aid of commercial drones.
Rolls-Royce is building an autonomous smart ship right now with Google that will monitor its surroundings in intense detail, while making autonomous decisions on the deep seas.
Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry. As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations”
– Mikael Mäkinen, President, Rolls-Royce Marine
Implementing this technology on the high seas has a longer development cycle than that for autonomous vehicles, but that doesn’t mean the idea is dead in the water.
It just means we’ll have to wait a little longer to see the future of shipping in action – and for now, the prospect of viewing all of the world’s ships in real-time will just have to suffice.
Here’s Why the Amazon is So Important for Global Food Security
The Amazon rainforest plays a critical role in supporting crop growth by stabilizing the climate and balancing water cycles.
Why is the Amazon Rainforest Important for Food Security?
The Amazon rainforest is home to 400 billion trees and covers 6.7 million square kilometers, but the ‘Earth’s lungs’, as it is commonly referred to, is so much more than that.
Aside from being a key carbon sink, it also plays a critical role in supporting crop growth by stabilizing the climate and balancing water cycles.
In this infographic, our sponsor Brazil Potash looks at how the Amazon regulates rainfall and temperature and how crop yields can be optimized. Let’s dive in.
Rainfall as a Primary Water Source
“Flying rivers” are air currents that carry enormous amounts of water vapor over thousands of kilometers. These airborne rivers are responsible for influencing regional and global weather patterns, including rainfall.
The Amazon flying river cycle begins with water evaporating from the Atlantic Ocean. Wind currents then transport these vapors across the continent, exchanging moisture with the Amazon rainforest through evapotranspiration. Finally, these aerial rivers distribute the moisture as rain.
The trees in the Amazon rainforest release around 20 billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere daily—this is more water than the Mississippi River discharges in 13 months.
Because only around 6% of cropland in Brazil is irrigated, the region relies heavily on this rainfall as a primary water source to support crop growth that feeds both local and global communities.
The Amazon also absorbs billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year through photosynthesis. By absorbing this CO2, it helps regulate temperatures and lessen the effects of climate change.
According to NASA research, the cumulative effects of climate change, accelerated by deforestation, may result in the loss of up to 11 million hectares of agricultural land in Brazil by the 2030s.
The continued sustainable production of Brazil’s crops is essential to food security, but deforestation can harm these efforts.
How to Grow More With Less
Brazil hosts the largest section of the Amazon rainforest at around 60%. The country is also one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural goods.
It’s essential for global food security and for climate change that crop yields in Brazil are increased in areas already allocated for agriculture, instead of clearing new areas in the Amazon rainforest.
A recent study highlights a significant yield gap in Brazil’s primary export, soybeans.
A yield gap is the difference between actual crop yield and potential crop yield.
The following steps proposed could optimize land usage:
- Increase crop yields: This can be done in part by optimizing and increasing fertilizer use. Local fertilizer suppliers are essential to this by providing affordable and accessible fertilizer year-round.
- Double Crop: Continuing to grow a second crop of corn on soybean fields between seasons to optimize land usage. Additional fertilizer is essential to maintain the soil’s nutrients after harvests.
- Raise cattle on smaller pastures: By streamlining the space provided for cattle, additional cropland can be added to support food for both people and livestock.
The Role of Brazil Potash
Brazil Potash aims to support the preservation of the Amazon rainforest by working with farmers to increase crop yields and improve the quality and quantity of food grown, without the need for land expansion.
By keeping farmers informed of fertilizer’s benefits and supporting a more stable supply of local fertilizer, Brazil Potash will continue supporting farming communities for generations to come.
Click here to learn more about sustainable crop growth in the Amazon and Brazil Potash.
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