Polluting Ships may actually Reduce Global Warming!
International shipping has not exactly been a leader in the fight to curb global warming. In fact, the industry is responsible for about 3 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions – almost 1 billion tons. International shipping is also responsible for high emissions of sulfur dioxide, a major health hazard.
It should be welcome news, then, that the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has fuel-efficient ship redesign high on its agenda. Instead, the plans to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 90 percent have made some environmentalists very unhappy. The Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) in Oslo, Norway points out that instead of addressing global warming as well as human health, MEPC’s plans will result in even greater global warming.
Ironically, the particulate haze produced by sulfur dioxide acts as a shield that counteracts global warming effects, actually cooling the planet. More fuel-efficient ships will emit less sulfur dioxide. This is the good news. Reducing the sulfur dioxide emissions, though, will increase the global warming effect of the carbon dioxide emissions from the ship. This is bad news, indeed.