Freight Debate

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This episode is all about shipping (the way companies move their products) and how it affects climate change. It starts off with a woman in an airplane. This is not a commercial flight so there are not any other passengers, this is a freight plane. Freight planes are for moving (or “shipping”) products around the globe for distribution. The woman notices that the plane is carrying oranges to Florida, USA. This is extremely wasteful because the state of Florida grows oranges, so residents can easily buy local oranges rather than importing them. Plus, planes release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than freight ships. Nobody in Florida should be importing oranges because there are plenty of oranges already there; and if they do need to have something shipped, it should be shipped by boat, not by plane!


Buying locally grown produce reduces your impact on the Earth’s climate because locally grown fruits and veggies don’t need to be shipped! Since they have no need to be moved very far, cars and trucks can move local produce and they have a much smaller carbon footprint. In other words, locally grown products can be sold from convenient locations while releasing less emissions than produce that has been imported or shipped from somewhere further away.


Using planes to move products is not at all climate-friendly. It may sometimes be faster than sending products by ship, but it releases tons more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to this study by the Environmental Protection Agency (or E.P.A.), in 2011 American commercial aircraft burned 12.1 billion gallons of jet fuel and released 114.6 Teragrams of CO2 into the atmosphere (1 Teragram = 1 billion Kilograms). Also in 2011, ships and boats burned 1 billion gallons of diesel fuel and released 10.7 Teragrams of CO2. As you can see by these numbers, planes used almost 12 times the volume of fuel that ships do, this is because they are used for shipping more often than ships.


If ships were used more often for product transportation, products would be shipped more efficiently. If you compare the emissions to the fuel consumption of aircraft and ships from the EPA’s data, they may seem pretty close, but ships end up being more efficient because they create more energy. More energy means ships can move further than a plane would with the same amount of fuel. In 2011, American diesel ships used 1 billion gallons of fuel and 144.3 TBTU (trillion British thermal units) of energy were created. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s research, 1 billion gallons of jet fuel used in a commercial aircraft would create 134.6 TBTU. That means ships using the same amount of fuel create 9.7 TBTU more than commercial aircraft. Ships create more energy with the same amount of fuel! This number may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that TBTU stands for “Trillion British Thermal Units”. So ships are more efficient by 9,700,000,000,000 (9.7 trillion) units of energy! That’s a huge deal!


What can you do about these large corporations wasting energy and releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases with wasteful shipping methods? You can buy locally grown produce to promote nearby farms! By choosing to buy fruits and veggies from a farmer’s market rather than a grocery store, there is less need for these products to be shipped to grocery stores because less of the grocery store’s stock is being bought. This means that if more people buy produce from local growers, less emissions will be released in the atmosphere by the agricultural corporations because they won’t need to ship as often to the grocery stores!



Director: David Chai

Editor: Keith Silva

Producer: Revathi Kotni

Camera Crew: Eric Anderson & Mark Sho

Host: Alejandro Garcia

Freight Debate Composited and Edited by: Mark Wanniger

Storyboard: Michelle Ikemoto

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