Why we avoid overseas shipping

The environmental cost of moving goods can be significant. Take cargo ships, for example — the means by which two-thirds of the goods purchased by U.S. consumers arrive on American shores. While oceangoing vessels worldwide account for just 2 to 3 percent of global fossil-fuel consumption, they are responsible for 14 percent of the nitrogen emissions from fossil fuels and 16 percent of all sulfur emissions from petroleum, according to a study by Carnegie Mellon University. 1 It is estimated that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars. 2   The low grade bunker fuel used by the worlds 90,000 cargo ships contains up to 2,000 times the amount of sulfur compared to diesel fuel used in automobiles. The recent boom in the global trade of manufactured goods has also resulted in a new breed of super sized container ship which consume fuel not by the gallons, but by tons per hour, and shipping now accounts for 90% of global trade by volume. 3  Much ado and attention has been paid to the pollutants emmitted from the tail pipes of cars and trucks in recent years, both here in the U.S. and across the pond in Europe. With an estimated 250 million passenger vehicles in the U.S. alone, it would seem that cars would be a major contributor to pollution and air quality issues here and abroad. But newly released data from Europe suggests that a single container ship may cause as much pollution as 50 million cars and release as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur oxide into the air annually 4, contributing heavily to global warming. 5

With the overwhelming evidence of the environmental cost of container shipping, and the need to grow our local economy, the Experiment keeps everything local, supporting the local economies while keeping environmental degradation associated with manufacturing down in the ways we can.