August 11, 2010

After Reaching Peak Speed We're Slowing Down

Some container ships today have cut their speed by half, matching the speed of the Cutty Sark 

After decades of racing faster and faster, the planet is beginning to slow down. Of course it had to, because we can not increase our pace of life infinitely. Eventually we will hit a wall, and slowing down will be the only option. It is an option that is increasingly recommended for the chronically busy, fast-paced global culture.

Slow food, slow parenting, slow money, slow travel, the slow life - the rebellion against relentless speed has begun. Keeping with this trend is the practice of slow shipping. Global shipping giant Maersk has seen the light and say, “Going at full throttle is economically and ecologically questionable.”

Cargo ships are now steaming half speed ahead, a response to the high cost of fuel, and the desire to cut carbon emissions. These modern ships are now traveling at the same speed as the Cutty Sark and other clipper ships sailed in the 1800s. Instead of container ships throttling along at breakneck speeds they are adding another week to their ocean crossing times.

Making things faster only increases our productivity and happiness to a point, beyond which we garner fewer and fewer benefits, and more and more problems. We have reached that point already. And as we were allowing ourselves to be wound up we found that along with the cottage, second car and cappuccino maker came stress, burnout, broken families, and depression.

If speed is the problem, then slowing down is the answer. Here's to peak relaxation and contentment.

“For fast-acting relief try slowing down.”
~ Lily Tomlin

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