Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 44

Fig. 1 CMA CGM Jules Verne

The subtitle for today's post might be "Planes, Trains, Trucks, and TEU."

Today, I address the realm that is the sinew, muscle, and heart-blood vessel system of world civilization (What Do You Mean - World Civilization?, Confusing "Civilization" With "Species") and the blood flowing in the veins of that civilization (Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death)).

Let's take the metaphor or analogy a bit further, and call the blood cells which carry resources throughout the body, "TEU" (Twenty-foot equivalent unit, TEU).

The Heart-Blood System of Civilization

All analogies or metaphors "break down" at some point, meaning they don't give
Fig. 2 The heart system of civilization
a perfect picture of what they are intended to represent in the real world.

What I am trying to describe is international intercourse, merchant ships on steroids, which is to say that 95% of material travels from a port in one country to a port in another country, which is the bulk of international trade, and the lifeblood of civilization (The 1% May Face The Wrath of Sea Level Rise First; Why The Military Can't Defend Against The Invasion; Why Sea Level Rise May Be The Greatest Threat To Civilization, 2, 3, 4; Greenland & Antarctica Invade The United States).

Fig. 3 This will not do the job
In Fig. 1 the largest container ship is pictured, the link at Fig. 2 goes to a page that has descriptions of the 100 largest of such vessels.

Note that the cargo capacity of that container ship is 19,224 TEU up to 193,000 gross tons (386,000,000 lbs.).

By comparison, the largest cargo aircraft, the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, has a payload of 270,000 lbs. (see Fig. 3).

Which means it would take (386,000,000 lbs. ÷ 270,000 lbs = 1430) 1,430 C-5 Galaxy aircraft to match the load of one cargo ship.

There aren't that many C-5 aircraft, and there are hundreds of cargo ships.

You get the picture.

The Gist of It

When the ongoing invasion by the sea shuts down cargo ports, air cargo traffic cannot be a replacement means of delivering cargo.

The nations will have to begin to trade locally, and in reduced quantities as societies collapse from what they are today, into something quite different.

Other links of interest:

Sustainable Ports (PDF)
AAPA Importance of Trade
Sea Level Rise for 20 Global Port Cities
Port Builder

A look at the issue from a decade ago:
For present-day conditions (2005), the top ten cities in terms of exposed population are estimated to be Mumbai, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Miami, Ho Chi Minh City, Kolkata, Greater New York, Osaka-Kobe, Alexandria and New Orleans; almost equally split between developed and developing countries. When assets are considered, the current distribution becomes more heavily weighted towards developed countries, as the wealth of the cities becomes important. The top 10 cities in terms of assets exposed are Miami, Greater New York, New Orleans, Osaka-Kobe, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Nagoya, Tampa-St Petersburg and Virginia Beach. These cities contain 60% of the total exposure, but are from only three (wealthy) countries: USA, Japan and the Netherlands. The total value of assets exposed in 2005 is across all cities considered here is estimated to be US$3,000 billion; corresponding to around 5% of global GDP in 2005 (both measured in international USD).

By the 2070s, total population exposed could grow more than threefold to around 150 million people due to the combined effects of climate change (sea-level rise and increased storminess), subsidence, population growth and urbanisation. The asset exposure could grow even more dramatically, reaching US $35,000 billion by the 2070s; more than ten times current levels and rising to roughly 9% of projected global GDP in this period. On a global-scale, for both types of exposure, population growth, socio-economic growth and urbanization are the most important drivers of the overall increase in exposure. Climate change and subsidence significantly exacerbate this effect although the relative importance of these factors varies by location. Exposure rises most rapidly in developing countries, as development moves increasingly into areas of high and rising flood risk.
(Ranking Port Cities, emphasis added, PDF). For a 2013 view of the issue based in part on surveys given to port authority officials:
"81% of sea port managers" report that "impacts of climate change is
Fig. 4 (click to enlarge)
something that needs to be addressed by the port community

"31% of sea port managers" report that "I feel sufficiently informed about how climate change will impact my port operations"

"58% of ports feel they would have a problem" @ "1-2 meters" (of sea level rise)

"39% of ports feel they would have a problem" @ ".5-1 meter" (of sea level rise)

"12% of sea port managers feel they would have a problem" @ "0-.5 meters" (of sea level rise)

(Port Perceptions of Sea Level Rise – An Overview, PDF). The information has been available for decades yet very few officials use the sea level rise data in their design criteria.

Got disconnect ?

Unloading at sea level ...


  1. That's spellin' it out! Great job, Dredd. This is an important topic to explore, because it leads to economic collapse which leads to the grid going down.

    Now, an interesting thing to explore would be how fast the various ports could be rebuilt (but where? sea level will just keep rising in fits and starts from now until all the ice is gone) or what might be tried to reduce this risk - maybe floating docks?

    They would have to have started 10 years ago or more to have it up and running in the near future is my guess. Where would the supplies come from?

    i'm also pondering, after the Pope's message and all, that if we truly wanted to cut back on CO2 emissions (as if that would help at this late stage) all vehicle transportation would need to be grounded, rendering any trade, other than the way the Amish do it, diminished (to say the least). i'm sure electric trains and cars could fill in for a while, until the grid goes down. i wonder how soon after the collapse in trade does the grid go down for lack of spare parts (like those enormous generators/turbines used in hydroelectric plants) among other things (i think economic collapse would result immediately, but i could be wrong).



    1. "Now, an interesting thing to explore would be how fast the various ports could be rebuilt ..."

      Port Authorities are the slowest snails on the planet (e.g. The Agnotology of Sea Level Rise Via Ice Melt).

    2. "because it leads to economic collapse which leads to the grid going down"

      The grid is a commercial enterprise (the infrastructure, plus the fossil fuels for power plants to burn, to generate electricity).

      Many millions of people have to have jobs that produce income to have money to buy the grid's merchandise which Gridsville peddles (electricity, i.e. moving electrons over copper or aluminium wires).

      Which means that the companies the many millions with jobs work for must be able to trade in goods.

      Incoming and outgoing goods.

      And 95% of the international incoming and outgoing is by way of ports.

      You see where this is going Major Tom (

      The relationships are symbiotic, so when one goes down so does the other.

      Demise of one is demise of all.

      No more civilization.

      Nothing left but people doing stuff they did not do before.

      luv ya bro.

  2. "New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability." (UK Government Study)

  3. He's being "generous" thinking we have 3 decades. Things i'm reading are saying THIS SEPTEMBER a global financial crash happens that triggers world-wide problems with industrial civilization.

    Here's one: Lindsey Williams, Martin Armstrong And Alex Jones All Warn About What Is Coming In The Fall Of 2015


    Not since the financial crash of 2008 have so many prominent people issued such urgent warnings about a specific time period. Almost daily now, really big names are coming out with chilling predictions about what they believe is going to happen during the second half of 2015. But it isn’t just that these people have a “bad feeling” about things. The truth is that we are witnessing a confluence of circumstances and events in the second half of this year that is unprecedented.


  4. Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard recently published a book "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future" (link). She speaks of the likelihood of climate change leading to destruction of democracy with the ways of martial law and other typical machinations of authoritarianism.