Lifeboats for buildings: Wärtsilä’s grim climate change invention

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä today launched a product at a start-up event, Slush Helsinki 2018, that it said it hopes should never see the light of day: a lifeboat for buildings. The lifeboats could be used in severe flooding and rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“The lifeboat for buildings is not a real product, even though it could be,” the company stated in a release today. It is conceptualised and designed by Wärtsilä Ship Design and features Wärtsilä’s smart technologies, such as autodocking, dynamic positioning and wireless charging. The autonomous lifeboat is powered by 100% renewables, like synthetic renewable fuels and solar energy.

“This hypothetical lifeboat is a way for Wärtsilä to amplify the critical need to move climate change discourse to action. In fact, the concept is not as unimaginable as we first think. The boats would have been useful in the recent floods in Italy and Indonesia. We must act now, together. Or the unthinkable will happen and this lifeboat will have to be built for real,” said Marco Ryan, the company’s chief digital officer.

Wärtsilä has taken a much more aggressive stance on its views regarding the environment this year. At the German shipping exhibition SMM in September it launched a campaign called Oceanic Awakening with a dramatic video – see below – in which it envisioned a world ravaged by climate change.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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