Amara Aarseth

In Conversation with future mariner Amara Aarseth

Among the movers and shakers in the audience at the Horizons event in Oslo, 12-year-old Amara Aarseth astounded many with her keen interest in shipping and green technologies, displaying awareness and maturity well beyond her years. We caught up with her to understand her thoughts on the future of the maritime industry.

It should be no surprise that the next generation is already taking an active interest in the affairs of the planet. What got you hooked?
I was lucky because my parents had spent quite a few years working on merchant ships. Talk of the waters and life at sea were quite common at our dinner table. That’s around the time I first started thinking about what it would be like to work on a ship myself. From there I started thinking about how they move and got interested in their engines. 

Apart from shipping, I am also passionate about fighting against the use of fur in fashion, the problem of ocean plastic and ways of generating clean energy.

Do you consider yourself to be a role model to your friends?
I don’t think of myself as a role model (laughs). I am only trying to talk about and share things I am interested in. I try to tell people that ships and engines are fun. A lot of people think that engines are a thing that only boys are supposed to like, but a lot of girls like these kinds of things too. I am hoping that they join me so that we can explore this together.

You had the opportunity to participate in the recently held Horizons event in Oslo. What was that like?
It’s really exciting. There were so many people around, all of them with the same interests as me. I heard so many presentations and in many of them, they were talking about green shipping and how to ensure that our oceans are kept clean. 

One interesting talk was about this system called ZEEDS which stands for Zero Emissions Energy Distribution at Sea. Here, they were trying to come up with ways to use new fuels to power ships. I’m learning so much more than I had known before.

We heard that Wärtsilä experts also visited your school to talk about these technologies. What did you learn there?
We had Egil Hystad and Teus van Beek from Wärtsilä come to the school where they were explaining the basics of what a ship is, their role in global transport, propulsion, energy consumption and emissions. They held an interactive quiz and discussion on themes like zero emissions, CO2 is dangerous and how, in the future, we may not be able to buy anything from abroad because there will be no means to transport it. They also gave us a 20-minute challenge to come up with green solutions for shipping. 

One student suggested making ships run on solar power during the day and simply go slower in the night, to conserve energy. We were surprised that some experts were already calling for this method called slow steaming. Another student came up with the idea of using a submerged rocket burning hydrogen in a system with no moving parts and only water as exhaust. It was all very exciting. 

Has all of this helped you decide what you want to be when you grow up?
Well, I always wanted to be an engineer because I find engines exciting and that doesn’t change. I love both the seas and engines, and when I am on vacation, you can always find me in the water. I hate to think that engines could pollute the seas. But hearing about how the marine industry is working towards cleaning up the oceans and using eco-friendly technologies is a big plus. It makes me feel more confident and surer about working in the industry.

How are you preparing yourself for this possible future?
I am reading a lot about how things work, and have found a number of interesting stories online. Did you know that there is a Labrador called Lila that is helping clean up our oceans by diving for plastic bottles? I am also learning new languages, and already speak four – Hindi, English, Norwegian and French and have plans to learn Spanish as well. This should help when I travel the world on ships. When I grow up, I’d love to work for Wärtsilä, but until then, I will continue sharing everything I can about green shipping.

Any final words to the people who are following your progress with much interest? 
If we don't change something, future generations will not be able to enjoy what we have today, nor will they live as long. I am doing what I can to save our mother earth now. And you can do them too. To start, go to the beach and pick up trash whenever you get the chance. Reuse things whenever they can be reused and save power at home by switching off lights and appliances that are not needed.  We must stop being lazy. We can do it, only if we work together and keep trying. 

Written by
Nikhil Sivadas
Senior Editor at Spoon Agency