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What The Sailor Sees

Updated: Jan 16

It’s extremely likely you have heard of this nursery rhyme before. If you haven’t, it goes like this: The sailor went to sea, sea, sea,

To see what he could see, see, see,

But all that he could see, see, see, Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea!


On the surface, it’s just a typical silly rhyme. Words of poetry strung together to make a humorous line. Just a rhyme.


But what if we dived deeper? We would find irony in the poem, and not because the author was mocking something, but a question arises: do sailors actually see a deep blue sea though? Given our current environmental condition, the answer is no. Climate change has simply seized the oceans, and stained their waves with its own blood, through many ways. One of the ways is transportation.


Transportation. The process of transporting someone or something to different places. It happens everyday, whether it be carrying a cup of water to a friend or our parents purchasing fresh vegetables from the grocery store. Let’s talk about the latter option. Every day, cars whir past us, long lines of colourful blur. A blue car there, a red car next, a yellow car behind. And in the midst of the rainbow chaos, one colour always floats in the atmosphere, grey. Greenhouse gas emissions.


Reader, how often do we ponder on these things? Even if we do, how often do we take action? It’s widely believed that taking action may be scary, but believing that someone will take action is even scarier… because ultimately, nothing gets done.


Greenhouse gas emissions are not a rare term to us by now. Nowadays, they are constantly brought to light, through activists, mass media, organisations and other mediums. And it’s through these people that new alternatives are being introduced as well. However, it’s up to us to use the alternatives and build an impact.


Similar to greenhouse gas emissions, the consequences of transportation have been made very clear to the world. For example, marine transportation emits pollutants into the atmosphere, deteriorating the air quality, harming our health. As a matter of fact, air pollution killed 4.2 million worldwide in the year 2015. Marine transportation also releases ballast water that contains aquatic invasive species, such as common water hyacinths or myriophyllum spicatum, that invades the marine ecosystem. Other harmful effects of transportation include noise pollution, respiratory problems, and habitat loss. These issues are no secret, we know it all too well.


And the solutions are no secret as well. The most obvious solution is sustainable, eco-friendly transportation. So why hasn’t everyone switched to energy-saving, low carbon vehicles yet?


This is because as much as sustainable transportation may be advertised, there are still many who turn a deaf ear to it or are doubtful about this new alternative.


Individual decision-making is the foundation of all purchases. When consumers are at the verge of purchasing something, many options are considered due to exchange of information, which could lead to difficulty determining the final option. Before settling on a product, consumers usually judge all possible choices based on personal preferences as well as the actual quality of the product. In terms of vehicles, technical utility (driving range, performance, speed, etc.) is often regarded as a great judging criteria. It’s often from this criteria that springs many doubts about eco-friendly transportation. Compared to fuel-charged vehicles, these alternatives are newly-introduced, meaning there are more uncertainties when it comes to its utilities, leading to lots resorting back to their old vehicles. According to a university thesis, Tesla models can only have a driving range of 335 miles, significantly lower than the usual 621 miles fuel vehicles can drive to. Slower speeds, lower emissions but a short driving range affects a consumer’s willingness to purchase a vehicle.


Regarding the doubt, the BBC states, “the take-up of plug-in vehicles - just 3,500 registrations in 2013 - is being hampered by the perception they don't have sufficient range and that there aren't enough charging points installed.”


With doubt comes disaster. There’s no denial that sustainable transportation is ascending in popularity, advertisement has never been an issue. However, as it increases, the market ratio of electric vehicles still remains low. This means their investors believe it’s over-priced and not worth its value. If there is a lack of investors, sustainable transportation wouldn’t have enough financial backing.


Another factor affecting consumers are the financial constraints, like the budget they set for themselves. It would be a better decision to switch to eco-friendly transportation, but ultimately, it depends on the consumer’s individual condition. With poverty being a rising matter in recent days, eco-friendly vehicles may be out of some people’s reach. Sustainable transportation has a higher cost than conventional transportation, due to it running on electricity which needs a more expensive battery. This sets an invisible barrier, which leads to a loss in consumers.


With all these hardships involved, mitigations have to be implemented, if possible, and everyone should start working towards a better environment, through different ways.


Before the future generations hear a different nursery rhyme:

The sailor went to sea, sea, sea,

To see what he could see, see, see,

But all that he could see, see, see, Was no marine life in the deep gray sea, sea, sea!

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