To learn more about globalisation, I’ve enrolled in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) Edx course from the University of Texas at Austin. It is somewhat ironic that the topic is being delivered via a MOOC, the latter itself being an agent of globalisation. To paraphrase, the main goals of the course are: to study the historical and cultural systems driving globalisation — systems such as transportation, communication, governance, and entertainment; by doing so, we’ll be better able to understand how the world works.
Globalisation was usually focused on economics, trade, foreign investment and
international capital flows. More recently the term has been expanded to include activities such as culture, technology, political, and even biological factors, e.g. climate change.
There are intense arguments regarding the pros and cons of globalisation — the reality is that it is happening. The point of this posting is to draw your attention to the importance of transportation by sea and to the colossal amount of pollution these vessels cause.
“It was reported in 2009 that only 15 of the world’s biggest ships produce as much pollution as the world’s 760 million cars. The low-grade, ship bunker fuel used by an estimated 90,000 cargo ships produces a huge volume of airborne particles that kill many thousands of
people around the world and inflict hundreds of billions of dollars a year in health costs on coastal populations.
Just one of the world’s largest ships generates more than 5,000 tons of sulfur oxide gases every year, while a car produces only 100 grams of this pollutant. Even the most technologically-advanced container ships consume dirty, low-grade, bunker fuel that produces a tremendous amount of air pollution. These emissions constitute between 15% and 30% of the world’s smog-forming pollution.”