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one cargo ship pollutes as much as 50 million cars, and my car’s mileage rating matters because… because…

research shows that giant container ships are a significant source of air pollution, emitting 18-30% of all nitrogen oxide and 9% of sulphur oxide pollution. one such ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars. given a world-wide automobile population of 760 million cars, this means that the 15 biggest ships cause more pollution than ALL cars… yet another reason why major port cities in the u.s…. long beach, los angeles, houston, galveston, and pittsburgh. for example… have so much air pollution.

cruise ships are another problem. in one week, a typical cruise ship generates 210,000 gallons of black water (sewage), 1,000,000 gallons of gray water (shower, sink, dishwashing water), 37,000 gallons of oily bilge water, more than eight tons of solid waste, millions of gallons of ballast water containing potential invasive species, and toxic wastes from dry cleaning and photo processing laboratories… adding to the aforementioned fuel emissions. illegal dumping has been a continuing problem, with one of the worst reported cases involving royal caribbean, who were found guilty of routinely and deliberately dumping waste oil, photo processing, dry cleaning, and print shop chemicals into coastal U.S. waters.

more (depressing) info at:

My kind-of brother-in-law (partner’s brother) works for a very large shipping company, out of Singapore. I asked him about this issue, and he said that since 2008 container ships have been traveling more slowly, increasing efficiency and reducing pollution. He also forwarded me a copy of the AlphaLiner Weekly, which had a feature article discussing container carriers and their approach to sustainable shipping and the reduction of emissions. In 2000 the average size of new container ships was 2,900 teu (‘twenty foot equivalent’… essentially, one container). By the end of 2011, the size of new container ships will be 16,000 teu; by 2013, they are expected to hit 18,000 teu. According to my source, newer technologies, slower speeds and greater efficiency are all helping with the problem… although i have to think that if an older, 2,900 teu container ship emits more pollution than 50 million cars, a newer, 18,000 teu ship, no matter how efficient, is going to leave a commensurate environmental footprint… the word ‘ginormous’ comes to mind.

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