Section 3: Transportation Networks

Section 3: Transportation Networks

“Maritime Transport … Ship Breakers … Air Transport … Making Connections”
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  • 3. Transportation Networks > Maritime Transport > Lecture
  • 3. Transportation Networks > Ship Breakers > Lecture
  • 3. Transportation Networks > Air Transport > Lecture
  • 3. Transportation Networks > Making Connections > Inteview Video

3. Transportation Networks > Maritime Transport > Lecture

  • Approximately 90% of world trade is carried by ships.
  • As of 2010, the volume of the world shipping trade exceeded 30 trillion ton miles and was growing faster than the global economy as a whole.
  • Estimates suggest there are about 100,000 large ships carrying cargo and passengers on the oceans of our planet.
  • The three most important types of cargo ships are bulk carriers, oil and natural gas tankers, and container ships.
  • The largest ship ever constructed, a supertanker referred to as the ultra-large crude carrier Seawise Giant, displaced more than 260,000 tons and was 458 meters long.
  • Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, imported $30 billion worth of goods from China in 2010, and this number is going up.
  • Walmart has ordered, and has exclusive use of, the world’s largest container ships.
  • Maersk has now commissioned a new fleet of 20 even bigger container ships that are being assembled in South Korea using components made in China and elsewhere.
  • They will be too big for most American ports to handle and will call on only 13 ports around the world, all of them located in Asia and northern Europe.
  • While these ships are too large even for the expanded Panama Canal, which is scheduled to be ready for business in 2014, they will be able to navigate the Suez Canal and will thereby save Maersk millions of dollars in fuel costs.
  • Other fuel savings will come from an innovative hull design, smaller and more energy-efficient engines, and a waste heat recovery system that generates extra energy from moving the ship through the water.
  • Global merchant marine fuel oil consumption in 2007 amounted to 369 million tons or somewhere between 2% and 4% of the world’s annual fossil fuel consumption.
  • Still, there is an enormous difference between the fuel efficiencies of the larger ships and the big cargo planes that are engaged in transporting cargo.
  • Let us now look at how these transportation networks, the world’s natural environment, and the ability of global governance to enforce universal regulations are related to each other.
  • One thing we will find is that the magnificent technological achievements of marina engineering have global consequences, and that the entire world community must deal with these consequences effectively.
  • 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.
  • These emissions constitute between 15% and 30% of the world’s smog-forming pollution.
  • Another environmental problem due to world shipping is the transporting and discharging by ships of ballast water that can contain many biological materials, including plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria.
  • Like many other threats to the world’s environment, the various forms of ship-generated and ship-borne pollution require effective regulation within the context of global governance.
  • The strategic importance of global shipping is clearly illustrated by how China has positioned itself within the maritime world.
  • As the world’s largest exporter and second-largest importer, China must maintain an enormous and secure system to transport cargo by sea.
  • By weight, China built two fifths of the world’s ships in 2012.
  • The Chinese are building or investing in a large number of seaports around the world, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Karachi, Antwerp, Suez, Singapore, Togo, Djibouti, and Myanmar.
  • In summary, and to put the Chinese strategy in historical perspective, just as the British Navy once guaranteed the shipping routes of the East India Company, today, the expanding Chinese Navy provides maritime security for the Chinese commercial fleet that now serves the greatest exporting economy the world has ever known.

3. Transportation Networks > Ship Breakers > Lecture

  • Seafarers and ship owners are often of different nationalities, and ships often operate under a flag different from their origin or ownership.
  • Working far from home, they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, nonpayment of wages, noncompliance with contracts, exposure to poor diet and living conditions, and even abandonment in foreign ports.
  • As of 2011, the ILO and the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, had established working groups to study the problems seafarers frequently face, such as personal injury claims, medical examinations, and being stranded in remote parts of the world.
  • A second vulnerable population of workers who participate in the global shipping industry are the ship breakers who dismantle decommissioned vessels on the beaches of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and Turkey.
  • The steel and other components of the disassembled ships are sold for recycling.
  • There are an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 ship breakers at work on the breaking beaches of Bangladesh alone, and another 100,000 people there are indirectly involved in the business.
  • The decline in global shipping that followed the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 has forced ship owners to send more ships than ever onto the breaking beaches.
  • More than 1,000 ships were scrapped in 2012, and business is booming.
  • When the decision to scrap a ship is made at sea, beyond national territorial waters, the Basel Convention has no jurisdiction, meaning the most ships begin the journey to their final resting place from the middle of the ocean.
  • The Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, adopted in 2009, was supposed to solve this problem.
  • In the hard and dirty world of ship breaking, this conflict of interest is seldom resolved in favor of worker safety, no matter how many well intended rules and regulations are ratified by UN sponsored international organizations.

3. Transportation Networks > Air Transport > Lecture

  • The global aviation system is similar to the global shipping system in several ways.
  • The second tier in global aircraft manufacturing is occupied by only two producers of the regional jets that seat up to 125 passengers, the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate Embraer was founded by the Brazilian government during the 1940s and became a government-owned company in 1969.
  • Although the so-called big boys club of commercial aircraft production remains limited to a technologically sophisticated elite, it is not surprising that in 2008 the Chinese political leadership created the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, to enter this global market under the banner of aeronautical patriotism.
  • These arrangements confirm the importance of interdependent relationships across national borders in the area of global manufacturing.
  • Still, the prospects for a successful Chinese entry into the global market for the largest and most advanced jetliners are not good.
  • Technical problems, a reliance on overseas suppliers, and foreign concerns about the safety and reliability of Chinese-made jets indicate that the Western monopoly on commercial aircraft production will remain intact for the foreseeable future.
  • Global air traffic, like global shipping, pollutes the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • By 2010, the annual number of global airline flights had past 30.
  • Is global aviation capable of reducing the growing production of climate changing, high altitude emissions? Answering this question brings us back to the difficult problem of global governance and the degree to which it can formulate and enforce regulations within an enormous industry around the world.
  • The ICAO website includes a document on climate change and action plans to limit emissions that exposes the passive role of the ICAO in this reform process.
  • The ICAO says that its action plans will allow states to showcase the specific, voluntary measures they intend to take in order to improve efficiency and thereby contribute to the global, environmental, aspirational goals agreed upon had an ICAO assembly in 2010.
  • The role of the ICAO is to help the states prepare and showcase their action plans, while the role of the states is simply to submit action plans the ICAO will accept as good-faith efforts to improve efficiency and curb emissions.
  • The 1997 Kyoto Protocol made the ICAO and its 190 member nations responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aviation.
  • After seven years of negotiations that accomplished nothing, the ICAO gave up and referred the matter back to its member nations.
  • The United States insisted that its airlines face no effective regulation until the ICAO had produced a global deal.
  • By passing responsibility to the ICAO, the United States was exploiting the official status of a global organization by using it as an alibi for the United States to take no effective action against global warming.
  • Following an ICAO assembly held in Montreal in 2010, the US State Department hailed what it called an historic agreement that adopted an unprecedented global commitment to collective action among countries around the world, developed and developing, to limit and reduce carbon emissions from international aviation.
  • Global aviation also presents us with an opportunity to look briefly, in this section of the course, at another globalization topic.
  • Aviation and small country self-assertion are closely related in that national airlines have long played a special role in symbolizing the nation state, enhancing its prestige, and expressing its global aspirations.
  • The collapse of Swiss Air coincided with the dramatic reduction in global airline traffic that occurred after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • The end of this iconic, national flag carrier airline is also a lesson in how even a prosperous and admired small country, driven by national pride and an appetite for prestige, can be seduced by the lure of maximum involvement in the globalization process.
  • The Swiss Air leadership persuaded themselves that the airline had to expand beyond its national boundaries to survive in the global aviation market.
  • The problem, as the Wall Street Journal Asia put it, is that global aspirations often caused managers to ignore the disciplined application of an industry’s basic economics and the importance of exercising control over your investments.

3. Transportation Networks > Making Connections > Inteview Video

  • Section three is all about ships, planes, and pollution.
  • So how big are these giant cargo ships? The biggest ships are on the order of a quarter mile long, sometimes even bigger than that.
  • One way to get a sense of how big the biggest container ships are- more than 400 meters long- is to compare the biggest container ships with one of the enormous aircraft carriers deployed by the United States Navy.
  • The biggest container ship in the world is going to be approximately one football field longer than a big, big aircraft carrier.
  • These ships are about 1,000 feet long, maybe somewhat longer.
  • The quarter-mile-long container ship can be operated with as few as 13 people to take 15,000 containers from one point to the other side of the ocean.
  • Do crew members have to have the same nationality as ship owners? No. There are over 1 million sailors out there crewing the tens of thousands of large commercial vessels.
  • The ship owners are always looking to cut costs- save money here, save money there.
  • So hiring from a lot of third-world countries is going to make more sense from an economic standpoint for the ship owner than hiring from richer societies.
  • If a ship registers in a certain country, does that country regulate that ship? Yes.
  • The ship owner will very often not regulate in his own country because he may see there a regulatory burden he doesn’t want to deal with.
  • So in many, many cases, the ships are registered in faraway places that are the maritime equivalent of offshore tax havens so that the ship owner can operate the ship more inexpensively, even if he is avoiding certain regulations that may be desirable regulations from the standpoint of the safety of the ship and the crew.
  • Do ship companies also enhance the image of the nation-state? Not in the same visible way that the airplanes do, unless it’s a small country.
  • In the case of Denmark, you have the Maersk Corporation that is building and operating enormous container ships, and at this point building the biggest container ships in the world.
  • As you say in the lecture, the IMO and the ICAO are failing to regulate the pollution put out by these ships.
  • If this particular material is carried ashore- and this will be especially harmful to people living along coastlines- then there are thousands and thousands, according to the epidemiologists, of people who are going to be dying of diseases caused by very fine particulate matter that they breathe and that originated coming out of the smokestack of a ship.
  • In order to regulate the discharge of ballast water- to take an example- would mean putting at least one observer on every ship and regulating exactly how the ballast water was handled in this port or in that port.
  • The second labor topic in the area of shipping is the ship breakers, which is to say a large and very, very poor group of primarily men who work the beaches of South Asia taking ships apart when it is time for them to be dismantled.
  • The ship owner says, it is no longer sufficient for me to operate this ship.
  • So what they do is that they rev up the engines, and they run the ship aground on a beach at high tide at the greatest speed they can manage.
  • At that point, thousands of poor workers are going to be taking the ship apart with welding torches and hammers and crowbars and some surprisingly primitive equipment.
  • When you have thousands of people working on a ship that’s 700, 800, 900 feet long, eventually, they’re going to take that ship apart.
  • There’s enormous amounts of steel in a ship that’s 800 feet long or 1,000 feet long.

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