Green Lizard's Blog

The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.

“We are all passengers on the Titanic”


Jack Foster, Irish Philosopher.

A hundred years ago this week, the famously unsinkable ship neared the end of her five day, maiden voyage.

Her cargo of famous and infamous rich people enjoying the opportunity of being on that first trip, the notoriously, unfortunate second and third class passengers with so many hopes and new world dreams stranded without a place on a lifeboat.

Rose and Jack, of the fourteen Oscar nominated film made them a cause célèbre.

Third class passage was about $40 which is a similar price to two tickets for an exhibition about this maritime disaster currently running in The Netherlands.

That ticket price in modern terms might be $900.00 if you sailed today while first class passengers would need to find 100,000 apparently.


Today on the list of passengers both saved and lost that day, I found my name.

There was one Jones who died in first class and one who survived in second. No third class.

But then there was a fourth group. They don’t have a movie and they had no lifeboat options.

There were 910 crew members aboard.

701 crew didn’t make it.

Four men with my name were amongst that lost seven hundred while one other Jones working aboard was lucky.

Seven hundred and five lives from across the boarded list were saved that day.

I visited the exhibition anticipating the reaction it would create in me. I’ve also seen a few shipwrecks of far less magnitude at close range.

Weirdly my reaction wasn’t what I expected.

Three key things impacted on me.


Those crew members. Their story is totally different to the passengers. They would likely have had no big plans for America. I suspect for many their plan was simple.

A further five days shovelling coal, serving dinner, polishing decks, changing the sheets, picking up the morse code messages and manning the crows nest without binoculars, all the way back across the Atlantic.

Ready then to repeat the process.

How many lost their lives still in the bowels of the mighty ship, manning the bilges desperately trying to save the vessel while passengers barely knew something was wrong?

There was a coal strike at the time of the first sailing and short supplies almost caused a delay.

WWI was on the horizon. These men would no doubt have ended up shovelling coal in the war effort.

Titanic herself could well have been commandeered to participate. Her fine decor becoming home to military personal or serving as a hospital ship.


In the face of such tragic loss, at least Titanic brought massive changes that meant no ship was ever lost to an iceberg again.

The ice patrols began in the Atlantic.
Passenger vessels have to provide lifeboats sufficient for all passengers.
Radio operators were kept on duty 24 hours a day.

Soon better communication at sea was developed. Few people realise now that SOS was not something widely used at that time.

Even the lifejackets on board may have been more of a hindrance than a help then, so designs have changed.

The way that ships are constructed pays more attention to the way that water may behave if it gets it’s chance to get in too. Bulkhead design has advanced.

and finally but perhaps most significant of all

Don’t underestimate the power of nature.

Human ingenuity really is remarkable. But the Titanic lesson of today for me, is very simple.

The ocean and it’s might, makes fragile our achievements and endeavours.

Environmentally speaking the risk from icebergs is greater now as ice moves around the oceans. But technologies reduce the risks.

She was a significant contributor, with huge steam engines to the start of what has damaged the ice that stalked those treacherous seas.

“We are all passengers on the Titanic.” I’m not sure exactly what he meant. Perhaps it’s a twist of fate or maybe the luck of the draw. I’d prefer that maybe it’s time we managed to man the bilges on our planet before the water level rises globally even more.



4 comments on ““We are all passengers on the Titanic”

  1. Agents of Field
    April 13, 2014

    Really thoughtful piece, thank you.


  2. Rambling Woods
    April 14, 2014

    Yes thoughtful… I hope we can wake up before it is too late


    • lizard100
      April 15, 2014

      I’m not sure we can. People are optimists. Someone else will fix it.


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