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One Giant Cargo Ship Pollutes As Much As 50M Cars

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the stink-pots dept.

Earth 595

thecarchik writes "One giant container ship pollutes the air as much as 50 million cars. Which means that just 15 of the huge ships emit as much as today's entire global 'car park' of roughly 750 million vehicles. Among the bad stuff: sulfur, soot, and other particulate matter that embeds itself in human lungs to cause a variety of cardiopulmonary illnesses. Since the mid-1970s, developed countries have imposed increasingly stringent regulations on auto emissions. In three decades, precise electronic engine controls, new high-pressure injectors, and sophisticated catalytic converters have cut emissions of nitrous oxides, carbon dioxides, and hydrocarbons by more than 98 percent. New regulations will further reduce these already minute limits. But ships today are where cars were in 1965: utterly uncontrolled, free to emit whatever they like." According to Wikipedia, 57 giant container ships (rated from 9,200 to 15,200 twenty-foot equivalent units) are plying the world's oceans.

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One can dream... (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323608)


Screw the people that frown on those who drive Hummers.

I want to be rich enough to say "I'm taking the family on a cruise across the ocean on our personal cargo ship." The captain would floor it from the dock and leave a 30 km long black trail of smoke.

Re:One can dream... (0, Offtopic)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324068)

Apparently folks have no sense of humor today for jokes about flooring the pedal on a multi million ton vehicle.

Could be a problem (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323614)

We should get rid of these ships.

Let us DRIVE our containers across the ocean!

Re:Could be a problem (3, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323670)

Let us DRIVE our containers across the ocean!

While that likely wouldn't work, you do realize that for thousands of years we moved items by sea all across the globe via a completely free and environmentally method of propulsion: the sail.

Re:Could be a problem (2, Informative)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323726)

Actually sailing ships required the destruction of vast forests (one of the reasons Britain wanted North American colonies was for the wood to build ships with). They generally didn't last that long and had to be replaced frequently. So their effect on the environment wasn't minimal.

Re:Could be a problem (5, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323764)

Sailing ships don't require that: WOODEN ships do. Though ships of old were typically wooden, there is no requirement at all that a sailing vessel be made of wood (and modern sailing vessels typically aren't).

Don't confuse the proposal that we use sails more as a proposal that we go back to using Spanish Galeon's. You can merge the concept with a more modern approach as needed.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323948)

Of course other material could be used for sailing ships. But the parent was about the historical precedent, which was far from environmentally neutral. Almost all pre-modern ships (Irish soap notwithstanding) were made from wood or other plant material, and making them in large number cost significant bioresources. To really consider sails as an alternative, we'd need to be willing to accept much slower transit times and much lower reliability.

Re:Could be a problem (5, Funny)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324108)

Though ships of old were typically wooden, there is no requirement at all that a sailing vessel be made of wood (and modern sailing vessels typically aren't).

We know that the only things that float are wood, ducks, witches, and the occasional very small pebble. If not wood than what, ducks? A duck can't even carry a coconut without sinking. Small pebble can't carry very much, and witches are incredibely difficult to work with. So tehre you have it: wood. So sayeth the Ways of Science.

Re:Could be a problem (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323784)

Because, of course, using sails as a propulsion method requires a ship made of wood...

Re:Could be a problem (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323916)

Only if you want it to weigh as much as a duck.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323984)

I built mine from very small stones.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324002)

And therefore?

Re:Could be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34324062)

A witch!

Re:Could be a problem (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323928)

(one of the reasons Britain wanted North American colonies was for the wood to build ships with)

And no one bothered to tell them about the sources of an alternative ship-building material around Salem?

Re:Could be a problem (4, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324078)

Actually sailing ships required the destruction of vast forests (one of the reasons Britain wanted North American colonies was for the wood to build ships with). They generally didn't last that long and had to be replaced frequently. So their effect on the environment wasn't minimal.

Bullshit. Ships didn't require THAT much wood, and Britain didn't want North America simply to build wooden ships. They wanted North America because things like you know, houses are still made of wood. But more importantly, they wanted America for its other resources, including sheer space for colonization.

  As for the ships not lasting all that long... by what standard? A typical non-aircraft carrier, steel-constructed US Navy vessel has a service life of around 30 years. Wooden commerce and naval vessels from the 1600's onwards had service lives of about.... 30 years. Navies went to steel because they made better warships, not because of any scarcity of wood. Nelson's favorite warship, HMS Agamemnon, was in service 28 years and was still one of the prime warships of the Royal Navy when she was wrecked in bad weather in 1809. It wasn't uncommon for navies to put a ship in the yards after 15 years, cut her in half, and literally splice in a section to maker her bigger, then return her to service as a larger vessel for another 15 years or so.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323808)

And one clipper ship at the peak of the sail and wooden hull technology could carry 5-8 TEU at 16 mph.

The MV Emma Mærsk can carry 15,000 TEUs at 20 mph and it a clean burner.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324026)

I thought the peak of the sail technology was the kite sail? Higher up == faster winds...

Re:Could be a problem (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324042)

Clean as in it's more efficient than other cargo ships. They only switched Emma off bunker fuel in September of this year, and from their press release it looks like they still use bunker fuel at sea.

Re:Could be a problem (2, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323884)

As usual it's a very simple matter of economics - were it cheaper to use sailing ships (after balancing their dependence on weather conditions and need for trained sailors against the cost of fuel and need for trained engineers) the companies would be commissioning them so fast it'd make your head spin.

The real trick would be pinning the (rather hard to quantify) 'environmental clean-up costs' back onto the guys doing the polluting. If it's cheaper to pollute and clean up the mess, no harm done - if it's cheaper not to pollute in the first place then that's what they'll do. Unfortunately this would require immediate global consensus on the costs incurred in counteracting the pollution, not to mention on what actually constitutes 'pollution' and what constitutes a valid clean up.

Re:Could be a problem (2, Informative)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324110)

It isn't just about cheaper, it is also about speed and consistency. IE If a shipping company needs to moves 400 million Tons, they can either have 50 ships going 20 mph or 100 ships going 10 mph. Which wastes more resources, building 50 more ships, or powering 50 ships... Also the Ports are scheduled to 100% capacity 6 months ahead, mis-port by a day because of low wind, you might be waiting a long time for another chance.
Also Apple doesn't want to load 6 months of supply of their Ipods into a container in china that will take 6 months to get to the US, then find out they were wrong, and either have a glut for months, or be stuck with inventory when they produce the next model.

Re:Could be a problem (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323888)

And probably over those thousands of years, the number of pound / miles shipped equalled about one weeks worth of shipping in the modern world.

Re:Could be a problem (4, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324034)

Point taken, but consider the following:

1. If the technology had continued to be developed, I'm sure we would have seen larger, faster, and more sophisticated sailing vessels used for shipping, likely resulting in far greater efficiencies today even with sailing compared to then.

2. When you consider the utter mess we're making of this planet, reduced shipping capacity isn't that bad of a thing to accept. It's akin to finally realizing that though racking up credit card debt can net you a lot of goodies, eventually you have to stop. That may mean a reduction in life style, but it's something you have to accept eventually. As it is now, there's no damn reason why the spoons and forks in your local stores should need to be shipped from halfway across the friggen planet. Manufacture some of the small trivialities closer to home. Make sure that the stuff we're shipping across the oceans have a legitimate NEED to travel that distance. Artwork? Family heirloom? Passengers? Sure, send those over. The knick-knacks at the dollar store though? I don't have much sympathy if that particular valve is shut off.

Re:Could be a problem (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323912)

But if we do that too much it will steal all the wind from the windmills!

Re:Could be a problem (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324052)

Sail is free and environmentally friendly... under a simplistic analysis.

Ever been to an old port? Seen the old warehouses (that have today been converted to other uses)? Heard old expressions like 'waiting for your ship to come in?' Steam, and eventually oil, replaced sail because even though it was 'more expensive' and even slower, at first, because by relying on engine power you gain reliability. Ships could stick to schedules, which means you don't need large - potentially refrigerated - warehouses to hold your goods. Goods don't spoil or go to waste, because a market opportunity has changed. You don't have to overproduce, you make exactly how much is needed.

Ultimately, every pound of bunker fuel is repayed ten times over, in money and environmental costs, by the efficiency improvements that regular shipping gives. We have another old expression for simplistic views of costs: penny wise, pound foolish.

Re:Could be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34324046)

I know this trick with two dollar coins. If you can figure out how I do it I get what's left of your drink, mmmkay?

Which is worse? (3, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323630)

One big ship or lots of smaller ships? Is it time to lose "the fear" and go nuclear on cargo vessels?

Re:Which is worse? (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324072)

5 years at sea without a fuel replacement? Hells yes!

Re:Which is worse? (4, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324096)

I suspect the resistance to using a nuclear cargo vessel has less to do with anti-nuclear fears and more to do with the cost of operating them.

This has come up before, and I'll say it again for good measure: naval nuclear reactors are expensive. If they weren't, you can be sure the military would use them on cruisers and destroyers. As it stands the only vessels that use a nuke plant are carriers and subs, both expensive as hell, and the latter only use nuke plants because they don't need to surface for oxygen (on a pure operating cost basis diesel-electric subs win out).

Plans for nuclear surface ships below carrier weight have been put forward, and axed repeatedly, almost always on the basis of cost alone. And if the American navy says something is too expensive, believe me, it's too expensive.

Now, what I wonder is, would a cargo vessel be less polluting if it used a multi-hull design to reduce drag and was fitted with more advanced filtration system to mitigate the worst of its exhaust? That's a lot more achievable than the nuclear option, and wouldn't sacrifice cargo capacity, unlike the sail option put forward earlier in the thread.

"Going Nuclear" on cargo vessels (5, Informative)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324130)

One big ship or lots of smaller ships? Is it time to lose "the fear" and go nuclear on cargo vessels?

Fear has nothing to do with it. Expense does. We've built nuclear merchant vessels before. They're just too expensive to operate. We built a fast, beautiful nuclear merchant ship (the NS Savannah) as a technology demonstrator, and when companies looked at the costs involved, they simply didn't see the point. Only a handful of nuke cargo ships were ever built, and only the Russians used them for any length of time.

Another Slashverisement for HighGear Media? (3, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323646)

First off, this article appears ripped straight from the UK Guardian. Secondly, what's with all the promotion of HighGear Media sites recently? Slashdot is not your megaphone, guys, lay off.

Re:Another Slashverisement for HighGear Media? (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323968)

Also, it's a story from 9th April 2009 which was then covered on 15th April on said site. The original Guardian piece can be >found here [guardian.co.uk] . Hell Reuters posted an article in responce [reuters.com] on 20 November 2009 where they added an interesting point

Shipping is slowing climate change by spewing out sunlight-dimming pollution but a clean-up needed to safeguard human health will stoke global warming, experts said Friday. "So far shipping has caused a cooling effect that has slowed down global warming," Jan Fuglestvedt, of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO), told Reuters....Toxic sulphur dioxide emitted by burning bunker fuel accounted for the deaths of an estimated 60,000 people worldwide in 2001 through cancer and heart and lung disease, according to a previous study. A clean-up would save thousands of lives. But sulphur pollution from the fast-growing shipping industry also helps create clouds by providing tiny seeds around which droplets form. Clouds have a cooling effect since sunlight bounces off their white tops.

They're in the middle of the ocean. (-1, Troll)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323674)

Since I'm not in the middle of the ocean, I don't have to breathe whatever crap they're spewing out. So I don't really have a reason to care. Of course it might still make sense for the big port cities to put emissions limits on what ships they'll accept, and send the really nasty ones elsewhere...

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

bema (1946062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323766)

That may be true but the emissions may be dissolved in the ocean water and find their way via the fish into your body somehow.

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323850)

That may be true but the emissions may be dissolved in the ocean water and find their way via the fish into your body somehow.

Yeah, just think: we could end up eating some carbon from the soot created by a cargo ship, which has then been eaten by a fish. Carbon, by God!

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

bema (1946062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323920)

Yeah right, even TFS states that among the emissions is not just soot but also sulfur, nitrous oxides and stuff like that. Then again, I bet you wouldn't mind some sulfuric acid in your food either, would you?

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324128)

Yeah right, even TFS states that among the emissions is not just soot but also sulfur, nitrous oxides and stuff like that. Then again, I bet you wouldn't mind some sulfuric acid in your food either, would you?

Gosh. I might eat a fish which has swallowed some sulfur. Will the horror never stop?

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324022)

This article isn't about carbon emissions. It's actually about sulfur emissions (think acid rain)...misleading

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323820)

Yeah, it's not like the air in the middle of the ocean is connected in some way to the air you breathe on land.

Oh wait, it is.

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323844)

You actually have that correct.
This really is a bunch of bad science.
No discussion of VOCs or CO2 just particulate and SOX emissions.
Well particulates at see are probably going to be pretty harmless. They will fall into the sea.
SOX may or may not be an issue but motor vehicles really don't emit hardly any sulfur. I wonder what percentage total world emissions of sulfur this is.
At least in the US ships shift to cleaner fuel when in coastal waters. Yes reducing the sulfur is also a good idea but this is really a worst case the sky is falling story.

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (2, Informative)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324056)

US Sulphur oxide emissions in 1999 were about 18,500,000 tons, mostly from coal power plants.
And gasoline and low-sulfur diesels mean comparing diesel-powered ships to cars is rather lopsided in the extreme.
Hell, if you only counted methane emissions, we'd all be up in arms about how badly a cow pollutes compared to a human.

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323860)

Just like back in the day sitting in the non-smoking section of the bar meant you never got any second hand smoke, ever.

Re:They're in the middle of the ocean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34323940)

Since I'm not in the middle of the ocean, I don't have to breathe whatever crap they're spewing out.

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

What are they going to do about it? (3, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323702)

Most of those ships are not registered in the US or Europe or any 1st world country. They are registered in Panama, Aruba or wherever there are no taxes and no regulations. And you can't really stop them coming into your harbors without affecting the local or even global economy.

On the other hand, how much pollution would it generate to bring those products in on more smaller ships or on trucks through a series of tubes in the ocean.

Re:What are they going to do about it? (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323756)

Impose tariffs based on what kind of cargo ship the stuff came in on. That's what they can do about it.

Re:What are they going to do about it? (2, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323758)

One option is to impose a tarriff on goods shipped on boats that don't meet regulations. Customers could also be proactive and buy things that were manufactured in their own continent, if not their own country/state.

Re:What are they going to do about it? (1)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323792)

On the other hand, how much pollution would it generate to bring those products in on more smaller ships or on trucks through a series of tubes in the ocean.

So you mean like some kind of internet for the ocean?

Re:What are they going to do about it? (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323822)

Well if you are a big enough nation, you can choose to make laws that provide economic disincentives to "dirty" ships, you don't have to stop them altogether. You can grandfather in existing ships if you want. If you are a smaller nation, you can join treaties with other nations, so you share the burden and the benefits.

We aren't totally helpless to do something about these sorts of things.

Re:What are they going to do about it? (2, Insightful)

Zumbs (1241138) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323848)

If the ships were not allowed to go to port (or had to pay an extreme toll) in an industrialized county, it is possible that the owners would make more by modifying the ships to abide by regulations than by going for a small fleet. But it is very likely that it would require some heavy handed regulations, and decisive action from governments to force Maersk and the other large shipping corporations to follow the new regulations.

Re:What are they going to do about it? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324086)

"They" could require ships fly the flag of the country where the owning corp's home office is based.

The current system of flags-of-convenience is inane.

Ironic? (1, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323714)

And here's the ironic part. If they could clean up these ship emissions, and then relax or completely remove all emission rules for cars, the overall pollution would go down, gas mileage would improve, oil consumption would drop, and the price of vehicles would go down (ever price a catalytic converter?). Just from cleaning up 15 ships!?!

Re:Ironic? (2, Interesting)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323970)

If you look it mentions nothing about carbon emissions. They're talking about a certain set of pollutants only.

Location Matters (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323988)

If they completely relaxed emissions rules for cars then regardless of whether world-wide pollution decreased we would have smog in all the major cities, just like before emissions controls were put into place. Different types of pollution have different area ranges where their effects are felt, and our laws need to take this into consideration.

is that you, Al? (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323718)

i don't doubt there's some pollution, but seriously, this is really too much...

Re:is that you, Al? (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323846)

Seriously, equivalent to 15 million cars? Are those numbers from the RIAA or the MPAA?

Re:is that you, Al? (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324118)

Actually it's quite plausible, given how much automobile emissions have dropped in response to regulations. Between the 1960s and early 1990s, average passenger car emissions of smog-forming hydrocarbons went from 228 pounds to five pounds annually (according to this article [chemeducator.org] , citing a 1993 study). I'm sure it's gone down even further since. So it's not impossible that a ship operating at the efficiency of a 1960 Pontiac would be the equivalent of millions of 2010 Honda Civics in terms of certain pollutants.

Re:is that you, Al? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324036)

I'd like to see some more proof as well. Google a little, and the same number keeps popping up: one ship equals 50 million cars in pollution. And all of these articles reference the same single 2009 study...

Another study done by the Friends of the Earth no less (in 2005), finds one container ship polluting as much as 2000 trucks. That sounds a lot better, especially since a container ship hauls more than 2000 trucks.

They don't pollute simply because they are ships. (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323730)

The reason is because ships obey the law of the flag they fly, which pretty much means paying out to the lowest bidder.

With no motivation to clean up their emissions, it is little surprise that there is no great concern over pollution.

Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34323732)

Just start shipping stuff in high-efficiency cars.

So strictly speaking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34323744)

It's better to drive 50M Ford F150s than to import a single Toyota Prius. Sounds like a confirmation of something I have intuitively thought for a long time.

Re:So strictly speaking... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323898)

You can fit a lot more than a single Toyota Prius on one of those cargo ship.

However, your argument probably stands if we were to have the exact numbers and if we assume that "one ship pollutes as much as 15 million cars" is true.

As for the Prius, aren't they assembled in the USA or in Canada? Shipping spare parts leaves a lot less empty room in shipping containers compared to shipping fully assembled cars.

Re:So strictly speaking... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324092)

Of course that is negating the fact that F-150's have to be trained up from Mexico.

indeed for many cars if you want made in america, you have to buy Nissan, toyota, or honda. American car companies primarily build cars in Mexico or Canada.

Re:So strictly speaking... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324132)

Nope, the parts for that ford also come in on various container ships. If this was your intuitive thought, you really are a grade A moron.

Concentration (2, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323748)

Devil's advocate here: where do these ships pollute?

The environment can 'support' a certain rate of air pollution, but the diffusion rate of air pollution means that certain regions build up localized pollution far higher than the average pollution level (e.g. LA, New York, etc..). Car emissions and factory emissions need to be fairly strict to ensure that levels remain low, despite the concentration of pollution caused by urbanization. By its very nature, container ship owners want their vessels at sea as much as possible, and while they're crossing oceans, there's not exactly any urban concentration effect going on. So it makes sense that this kind of shipping be held to the lower standard of emissions (i.e., basic environmental sustainability).

Re:Concentration (2, Insightful)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323864)

As far as I know (and my knowledge is limited), particles do not stay in one spot.
Just like a volcano eruption in Iceland changes climate on the US west coast eventually.
Obviously with a different scale of magnitude.

Am I missing something? (2, Insightful)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323768)

According to TFA, these ships should be producing "500 times the total pollution of the world's vehicles". But yet, they are only "responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions". From those 2 numbers, either cars are not the problem everybody says they are or these numbers are WAY off.

Re:Am I missing something? (2, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323952)

According to TFA, these ships should be producing "500 times the total pollution of the world's vehicles". But yet, they are only "responsible for 3.5% to 4% of all climate change emissions". From those 2 numbers, either cars are not the problem everybody says they are or these numbers are WAY off.

It just says that CO2 emissions are not proportional to traditional pollution emissions. Not surprising; there's lots of things you can do to reduce NOx, SOx, HC, and particulate emissions, but not much you can do to reduce CO2 emissions assuming you're burning hydrocarbons.

Re:Am I missing something? (2, Informative)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324000)

As my earlier comment says, it's 500 times the *Sulfer* pollution of the world's vehicles....not climate change emissions

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324106)

What if the "car pollution" encompasses not just CO2, which affects the climate, but also toxic emissions, which are dangerous because they are taking place right next to your respiratory system even as you're walking along the street in the rush hour, and not because of their total volume?

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

MichaelKristopeit202 (1943250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324114)

it's not the numbers that are off... it's that you're interpreting the numbers wrong, albeit how you were intended to misinterpret them. as presented, they are COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS.

500 times the total pollution of the world's vehicles.... "operated for 1 second", or "to manufacture"... or any other equally viable qualifier.

this is simply more ignorant marketeering.

was a better method to transfer the same amount of goods for the same cost presented?

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324158)

These are two different categories. Cars today produce mainly CO2; catalytic converters and the like have reduced the amount of sulfur, hydrocarbons, ozone, and other nasties that they produced in the past (this is the stuff that causes smog and respiratory problems). So a lot of the pollution TFA is talking is not climate change emissions, which are a distinct issue.

Nuclear energy (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323772)

Popular for aircraft carriers. Maybe for cargo ships too? How is the waste dealt with in an aircraft carrier. How do aircraft carriers and submarines avoid unplanned criticality excursions?

Re:Nuclear energy (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323840)

Popular for aircraft carriers. Maybe for cargo ships too? How is the waste dealt with in an aircraft carrier. How do aircraft carriers and submarines avoid unplanned criticality excursions?

Can't go there. There's no good way to ensure that waste stays in the right hands. Just look at all the ships that get hijacked off the Somali coast.

Self Destruct (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323944)

There's quite a simple solution to that problem, really. The ship should self-destruct causing maximum collateral damage when captured by pirates :-) After the first couple of nuclear reactors spew their guts all over the pirates, they'll soon learn their lesson.

Re:Nuclear energy (1)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324102)

How is the waste dealt with in an aircraft carrier.

The waste processing method is less relevant than the fact that the material is constantly surrounded by over 5,000 military personnel and armament capable of destroying a nation.

Privatize (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323774)

And so long as governments continue to consider open waters untenable public property, the pollution will continue without proper (judicial) repercussions, and will be susceptible to the whims of politicians owned by special interest groups.

80-20 Rule applies (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323776)

So, the 80/20 rule applies...
We need cleaner cars.

Re:80-20 Rule applies (1)

neiljt (238527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323930)

Damn right. Mine's a disgrace. But think of the water I saved by not washing it since March.

Re:80-20 Rule applies (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324144)

Oh yes, while washing your car all the muck flows into the drain, creek, river, lake, one more river, bay and finally ocean.
Wait, isn't the muck on your car originally deposited there by rain which carried ocean cruiser exhaust?

Trade imbalance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34323788)

If we get rid of these ships, it should help the U.S. trade imbalance.

Where did you get 57? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323800)

According to Wikipedia, 57 giant container ships (rated from 9,200 to 15,200 twenty-foot equivalent units) are plying the world's oceans.

If you are referring to the list of ships at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_container_ships [wikipedia.org] , I count 93 boats above the 9200 mark, and 238 above the 8000 mark. Also, the list only includes a handful of launches in 2010 so it is likely to be a lot longer at this point since larger ships are being produced as we speak (not to mention the list is in no way exhaustive as some sources of information can elude the maintainer of the list).

Assumptions (2, Insightful)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323802)

If you assume that the average vessel pollutes 1/10 as much as the largest, dirtiest container ship, ass TFA does, then you've made one hell of an assumption.

Not that it's not a problem, but - really - saying that 10 small coastal vessels equals one massive container ship undermines what sounded like a reasonable point and makes me question everything about their maths. And I'm generally in agreement with them!

This proves that the "progressives" are idiots. (-1, Troll)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323836)

Instead of castigating individuals for driving cars, they should be campaigning to clamp down on industry and business, since they do the real polluting. But corporations can afford to bribe politicians, and individuals can't, so the soi-disant progressives go after individuals.

Cargo ships from... (2, Insightful)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323868)

Pressure is mounting on the UN's International Maritime Organization

China knows how to put the kibosh [peopledaily.com.cn] on that sort of thing.

following the decision by the US government last week to impose a strict 230-mile buffer zone along the entire US coast

Countdown to WTO injunction on the US government's new 'anti-competitive' shipping regulations:

5..4..3..

Western manufacturers and workers can't compete with unregulated totalitarian regimes and third-world workers that willingly tolerate "crazy bad" [google.com] contamination. When you choose to indulge yet more environmental regulation please consider what might be done to prevent your noble intentions from simply evacuating more industry out of the West. International NIMBYism isn't morally admirable.

How to deal (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323880)

Well, here's my method of dealing with all environmental issues: here [wikimedia.org]

Stop Buying Crap! (4, Insightful)

lazarus (2879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323892)

Honestly, how much of our current problems would go away if we just stopped buying the cheapest crap we can find? Trade imbalances? Global pollution? Landfill? We really have to get away from the whole "I want it right now, and I want it cheap, and I don't care how crappy it is if it just makes me happy for a few minutes." Here is an idea: Do some research. Buy a quality product that will last you the rest of your life instead of one you have to throw away next week. And if you can't afford it right now? Save up until you have the money for it. Trust me. You'll appreciate it more.

Re:Stop Buying Crap! (4, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324080)

. Buy a quality product that will last you the rest of your life ...

Easier said than done. Aside from things that are designed not to last, things wear out - regardless of their quality.

Also, how can you really tell? Consumer Reports doesn't do studies on how long things last on most of their reviews and even then, it's only for the first few years, like with appliances. And the "you get what you pay for" line is not true.

I just consume less overall.

Not the same as carbon emissions (4, Insightful)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323894)

It doesn't really tell the whole story. The way the story's worded, you'd think that car emissions are a drop in the ocean (ha ha ha) compared to cargo ship emissions, but that's only true for a certain range of pollutants, and it's certainly not remotely true for carbon emissions.

Its not just giant ships... (2, Interesting)

SandwhichMaster (1044184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323942)

Its not just giant ships that are a problem. Planes, recreational boats, and even lawn mowers spew largely unfiltered exhaust into the air too. I never understood why the U.S. is so strict with car emissions, but so lax on other things that make significant contributions to air pollution.

Re:Its not just giant ships... (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324136)

I once asked some anti-pollution group to find me a riding lawn mower that had *some* anti-pollution controls.
I never got a call back.

only for certain trace emissions (2, Informative)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323954)

Like acid-rain forming sulfur dioxide.

This is fixable, you already are not allowed to burn bunker fuel in the "Diesel death zone" near LA and San Diego. And CARB has plans to extend the restrictions further.

Misleading statistics (5, Insightful)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34323986)

Saying that one ship pollutes as much as 50million cars is misleading. To be completely accurate, you must say one ship produces as much sulfer-pollution as 50million cars.

Now I have no doubt that this is still quite bad, but this doesn't mean that it has 50million times as much carbon emissions as cars. A quick google search shows that this can cause breathing problems and acid rain (both very bad) it doesn't seem to be a global warming problem. When you blindly say it pollutes 50million times as much of something cars now pollute very little of, it makes good headlines but it's bad science.

headline informs like 43M screaming retards (0, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit165 (1939480) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324040)

does this ship pollute as much as 50M cars relative to distance traveled? time in service? weight transferred?

was a better way to transfer the goods presented for the same cost?

nothing but ignorant hypocritical marketeering.

slashdot = stagnated

Proportions seem to be missed (2, Informative)

Quila (201335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324050)

"A car driven 9,000 miles a year emits 3.5 ounces of sulfur oxides--while the engine in a large cargo ship produces 5,500 tons."

But that car will haul maybe a tenth of a ton for that small number of miles, while the ship is expected to haul a hundred thousand tons "24hrs a day for about 280 days a year." You would think it might produce more pollutants.

The engine in the biggest ones is also far more fuel efficient than any gas or diesel car, exceeding 50% thermal efficiency. We like fuel efficiency, right? Yet they complain.

No direct and easy decisions (1)

nonusual suspect (1946174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324084)

There is more to it than just the amount of emissions. There might be massive effects on global warming. Or more like it, the opposite of it, the global cooling.

I can not pick the sources for these claims, but most of ship engines generate loads of pollution, especially plenty of very small particles. Also lots of sea gets evaporated into air. Now, to make clouds you need these small particles to gather moisture. The clouds are like a natural white shield, reflecting plenty of energy back to space. The clouds will not reduce amount of IR absorption by carbon dioxide, but they do lot to reduce the effects, like cool down the local environment when they rain down.

It might be beneficial to reduce the amount of pollution generated by the big boats, as these pollute most of their time on the oceans and cloud forming effects on oceans are not that clear like for the land. But plain order "reduce ship pollution" might easily reduce local cloud forming on "smaller seas" like Mediterranean or North sea.

The most important idea here is, that there are no very direct and easy decisions to be made without taking into account very complex set of effects.

Yes, maybe we can save 50M cars worth of pollution, but maybe we should not save that on sea or it will get hotter on the land. Or maybe we will reduce the pollution near big ships that usually will grows plenty of plankton, which in turn will consume surface water carbon, reducing toxicity of sea water before dropping to the depths effectively moving carbon from atmosphere to the bottom of the sea.

economics (3, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324088)

It's a question of economics. They're built to operate as cheaply as possible. That includes fuel efficiency. So, I'd expect the engines to operate fairly efficiently, in order to minimize the fuel cost; however, that does not mean they minimize pollution. In addition, these ships often use the cheaper heavy fuels, like No. 6 fuel oil, which tend to be higher in sulfur and other contaminants. Until it's cheaper to operate the ship on something else, this will not change.

No surprise. (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324104)

It's because they use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_oil [wikipedia.org]

For the obvious reason that it's the cheapest option. Unfortunately.

I'm actually speechless that people on this forum basically claim "I can't see it, it's out on the ocean anyway - so why care?".
Is it only a problem when you can see it?
Though, our planet is in safe hands, it seems.

Easy solutions (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324112)

Let's make undersea tunnels and/or cross-continent bridges.

Another solution is to use gravity: put China at the top of the hill and just let the finished products roll down our way.

Next question!

Overlooked causes of pollution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34324120)

Military weapons' testing. Space shuttle launches. Explosions on Mythbusters. Pollution. Discuss.

Not the whole story (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34324156)

How about the CO2 emissions?

The shops should certainly be cleaned up. No question there. Please don't use this as an excuse to drive a gas guzzler.
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