Study: Shipping Pollution Greatly Underestimated

According to a recent study, giant cargo ships used to transport goods across the ocean may account for far more pollution than previously thought. In fact, just 15 of the largest ships may produce as much pollution in a single year as every car on the planet. One of the primary reasons for this is that these ships use low-grade fuel which contains nearly 2,000 times as much sulfur as conventional automobile gasoline.

Contributing to this problem is the fact that China has emerged in the last few decades as the manufacturing center of the world. Goods made in China are typically sold in Europe and North America, which requires a lengthy journey across the ocean aboard a cargo ship.

If this news makes you feel better about driving your car around town rather than walking or biking, it probably shouldn't. There would be no need for so many ships if it wasn't for the Western world's obsession with consumption. Sure, ships would be needed to transport food and other necessities, but there is no justifiable reason to have so many ships carting mostly useless consumer goods across the earth's oceans.

Shipping Stats
  • Currently, there are nearly 90,000 cargo ships on the seas
  • Many ships operate all day and night for as many as 280 days a year
  • Shipping is responsible for as much as 30 percent of global nitrogen oxide pollution and 9 percent of sulphur oxide pollution
  • The vast majority of all shipping pollution is released in the northern hemisphere
1 comments
Posted by Mike on April 13,2009 at 2:46 PM

Makes you wonder how much of this cargo is cheap 'dollar-store' inventory. Ironic that we'll gladly kill the planet to save a buck or two on absolute garbage isn't it?

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