There is a staggering statistic that over the course of a year, 16 of the largest container ships, or super-vessels, can emit as much sulfur into the atmosphere as all of the cars in the world running during that same year time frame. If you stop for a minute to think about that fact, it becomes difficult to even wrap your mind around it. The same amount of sulfur as ALL of the cars in the world over the course of an entire year! And the sulfur pollution is only the beginning of this story.
Almost everything we purchase as American consumers is produced in Asia. This requires a constant flow of cargo ships back and forth between continents. There are an estimated 100,000 container ships on the seas and this number continues to grow. Some of the larger vessels can carry 14,000 full sized containers! The larger cargo ships have engines that are the size of a house! So just imagine the pollution created by an engine that large.
Couple this with the fact that, because of zero international regulations, these ships are allowed to burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulfur fuel only compounds the problem. This “bunker fuel” as it is called is the lowest grade of liquid fuel in use and contains 2,000 times the amount of sulfur as automobile diesel fuel. Its basically what’s left over after all of the cleaner fuels have been extracted from crude oil.
Environmental organizations across the globe have tried to ban this type of fuel but for now it is still in use. The United States itself has tried to impart regulations on these ships once they are within a certain distance to our shores, but the ships are no longer liable once they are in international waters.
A recent study by the NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the particulates expelled from container ships contribute to over 60,000 premature human deaths each year. These health risks are most prevalent in areas in the Mediterranean, India and China because they are heavily trafficked by containers. However, winds can push cargo ship exhaust anywhere, including our own Florida coast, where the ecosystem and air are being polluted because of these ships.
Bottom line, the impact that overseas shipping has on our environment is a serious issue. Many seating manufacturers contribute to this air pollution everyday because of their their non-US based sourcing and manufacturing.
Made in the USA makes a difference. Please consider where products are being manufactured before you make your next buying decision.
Eileen Kulish is an Allied Member and the National Accounts Manager for MTS Seating