Will Climate Change affect global trade? You betcha!

Some new drone footage shot as the ONE Apus was arriving in Japan last week gives us the first aerial view of the extent of damage on the deck of the ship after its historic cargo loss in the Pacific Ocean…

The owners and managers of the containership estimate that 1,816 containers were lost overboard when the ONE Apus encountered severe weather as it sailed towards Long Beach, California on November 30.

The number of containers damaged but remaining on deck is yet to be determined, but these images (and what we’ve seen already) show that the number is likely to be significant.

Authors of the article estimate 2,250 containers were swept away.

After the cold fall winds swirling around Hurricane Sandy pushed an enormous storm surge toward the New York and New Jersey coastlines several years ago, the ensuing damage left an indelible imprint on the public imagination. Restaurants with ocean views were battered by wild waves, homes were rent asunder, and historic lighthouses were pummeled into piles of rubble. New York City was paralyzed for days, and some 40,000 people were left homeless.

…Scant attention was paid to the goods containers strewn like toys around the marine terminals or to the gantry cranes left inoperable by saltwater damage. For a week, container ships laden with cargo floated aimlessly in the calmed harbor while responders scrambled to repair the damage.

As concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere at a record-breaking pace, changes to the climate system—not least sea level rise and increasingly ferocious extreme weather—will pose a growing threat to international trade. Costal transport infrastructure, especially ports, is highly vulnerable. But this is a two-way relationship. International trade plays a well-established role in making climate change worse by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but what Sandy portends is that climate change will also imperil the smooth flow of international trade.

And this is just the beginning.

2 thoughts on “Will Climate Change affect global trade? You betcha!

  1. Flotsam says:

    A 2020 report on container losses by the World Shipping Council found that in the past 12 years, an average of 1,382 containers were lost at sea each year. https://www.worldshipping.org/Containers_Lost_at_Sea_-_2020_Update_FINAL_.pdf
    The ‘ONE Apus’ container vessel lost nearly 2,000 containers after hitting rough weather en route to the USA. “It is estimated that the number of lost or damaged units could exceed 1,900, of which some 40 are believed to be dangerous goods containers,” a statement issued on behalf of the ship’s owners said. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-shipping-container-accident/container-ship-loses-nearly-2000-cargo-carriers-in-pacific-storm-idUSKBN28E0T7
    “Ocean Freights Big Guns Study the Menace of Shipping Containers Lost Overboard” (2011) http://www.handyshippingguide.com/shipping-news/ocean-freights-big-guns-study-the-menace-of-shipping-containers-lost-overboard_2995
    “…If we estimate that the containers float for an average of three months (very conservative) – this means there would constantly be between 500 and 2,500 containers floating around the world.” (Floating containers – a hazard to boating 2007) https://www.sail-world.com/Australia/Floating-containers-%E2%80%93-a-hazard-to-boating/35658

  2. p/s says:

    With ships urged to speed up, cargo worth millions lost at sea : The shipping industry is seeing the biggest jump in lost containers in seven years, disrupting supply chains. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/4/27/bas-ships-pressured-to-speed-up-cargo-worth-millions-lost-in-sea
    There are a host of reasons for the sudden rise in accidents. Weather is getting more unpredictable, while ships are growing bigger, allowing for containers to be stacked higher than ever before. But greatly exacerbating the situation is a surge in e-commerce after consumer demand exploded during the pandemic, increasing the urgency for shipping lines to deliver products as quickly as possible.
    After gale-force winds and large waves buffeted the 364-meter One Apus in November, causing the loss of more than 1,800 containers, footage showed thousands of steel boxes strewn like Lego pieces onboard, some torn to metal shreds. The incident was the worst since 2013, when the MOL Comfort broke in two and sank with its entire cargo of 4,293 containers into the Indian Ocean. At an average of $50,000 per box, the One Apus was estimated to have lost $90 million in cargo alone. Losses so far this year have totaled an estimated $54.5 million, Bloomberg data show. https://www.aljazeera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/371268721.jpg?w=770&resize=770%2C507
    When ships approach heavy weather, captains have the option to steer away from the danger. But the pressure on supply chains is such that the attitude has become “don’t go around the storm, go through.”
    The journey has always been rough, but it’s become more perilous due to changing weather patterns. The rise in traffic from China to the U.S. this past winter coincided with the strongest winds over the Northern Pacific since 1948, increasing the likelihood of rougher seas and bigger waves, said Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist at The Weather Company.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.