Trump Trade War to Save the Planet

One of my Facebook friends shared out a tidbit that was new to me.   Giant container ships produce really bad sulphur-based air emissions.   That in itself is not surprising, since they burn heavy “bunker” oil for fuel.   But the extent of their air emissions is staggering.

Just one mega-container ship gives off as many emissions as 50,000,000 cars. That’s right, one ship equals 50 million cars.     The world’s 15 largest ships put out more pollutants (nitrogen and sulphur oxide) than ALL of the world’s cars added up.

By slowing down trade, President Trump can save the planet.   His actions to put the brakes on the number of trips made ferrying containers full of cheap Chinese junk to American Walmarts will reduce the global production of greenhouse gasses by more than several solar farms.

The cargo capacity of a container ship is measured in ‘TEUs’ or ‘twenty foot equivalent units’.    The six largest in the world are all owned by the Orient Overseas Container Line, the two largest each have capacity for more than 21,000 TEUs.

That might sort of make you resent the costs of air emissions testing of your car.

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7 thoughts on “Trump Trade War to Save the Planet”

  1. MJBubba:
    Here is the shared article…

    Both of these articles cite the same claim, “Just one mega-container ship gives off as many emissions as 50,000,000 cars.” (from the first), “It has been estimated that just one of these container ships, the length of around six football pitches, can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars.” (from the second), but neither cites a source for this “statistic” nor, more importantly, defines the terms in which “as many emissions” or “same amount of pollution” are defined.

    For example, a car might burn around 6 litres per hour of petrol on a highway trip, while a Boeing 747 burns around 10,000 litres per hour of Jet A in cruise.  If we assume the overall emissions scale linearly with the fuel burn (which they don’t, since internal combustion and turbine operation are very different, but I’m doing a Fermi calculation here), then you might say that the 747 creates as much pollution as 1700 cars.  But that doesn’t take into account the fact that the 747 might be carrying 400 people while the car rarely carries 4 and often carries just one, and travels around ten times slower, which means you have to multiply its fuel consumption by a factor of ten.  To get any kind of meaningful comparison, you have to use units which (more or less) compare like quantities, such as litres of fuel per passenger-kilometre.

    Heaven knows what they were comparing to get that ship equals fifty million cars figure.  How many cars would it take to transport the mass of cargo in a fully laden container ship?

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  2. John, I don’t think the thinking is as sophisticated as to compare alternative means of transport.   They simply looked at the average oxides of sulfur emissions.   They multiplied the emissions of a container ship by 24 hours 365 days to get an annual production.   Then [i’m guessing] they multiplied the average for a car times the average time a car is in use, about an hour a day, times the entire global fleet.

    I don’t see their actual math printed anywhere.   I think both articles were ginned up by this 2015 article:

    https://go.enfos.com/blog/2015/06/23/behemoths-of-emission-how-a-container-ship-can-out-pollute-50-million-cars

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  3. Here we go:

    The calculations of ship and car pollution are based on the world’s largest 85,790KW ships’ diesel engines which operate about 280 days a year generating roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx a year, compared with diesel and petrol cars which drive 15,000km a year and emit approximately 101gm of SO2/SoX a year.

    That is from a 2009 article in the Grauniad, referenced in a footnote at the ENFOS article:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

    They cite a Danish study.

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  4. Hey, hey.   I just got a timely notice of a new report.   I am not enough of a nerd to dive into this report, but if you know someone who is interested in the air emissions of international shipping, send them this.

    “Rotors and Bubbles: Route-Based Assessment of Innovative Technologies to Reduce Ship Fuel Consumption and Emissions”

    The International Council for Clean Transportation has released a report that examines how wind-assist and hull air lubrication technologies may help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the international shipping sector. The International Maritime Organization has called for at least a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. 

    Here is a link to the blurb.   There is a button that downloads the .pdf.

    http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/179148.aspx

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  5. MJBubba:
    Here we go:

    The calculations of ship and car pollution are based on the world’s largest 85,790KW ships’ diesel engines which operate about 280 days a year generating roughly 5,200 tonnes of SOx a year, compared with diesel and petrol cars which drive 15,000km a year and emit approximately 101gm of SO2/SoX a year.

    That is from a 2009 article in the Grauniad, referenced in a footnote at the ENFOS article:

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution

    They cite a Danish study.

    Contrary to what is implied in the OP, SOx is not a greenhouse gas. The trouble with lumping all GHGs in the pollution category is that not all GHGs are true pollutants (viz. CO2) and not all pollutants are GHGs. This confuse-opoly benefits statists because it always leads to more regulation.

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  6. drlorentz:
    Contrary to what is implied in the OP, SOx is not a greenhouse gas.

    Oh, my apologies.   You are correct.   Oxides of sulfur are not a greenhouse gas; they are an ordinary noxious pollutant.

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