Shape Up or Ship Out

International shipping may appeal to people because of goods we cannot get in our own country, but the negative effects of this may not be worth it in the long run. Although there are some benefits from international shipping, it is not a very good idea, because there are many consequences including invasive species, which cause major environmental damages and loss of large amounts of money. Through the shipping process, new species are introduced to the environment and find a way to reproduce and invade the native environment. Also, international shipping is a source of major pollution affecting the air we breathe. Most importantly, international shipping affects many organisms that are native to that area, causing negative lasting effects.

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Positives for International Shipping (PROS)
Negatives of International Shipping (CONS)
-You can ship your possessions overseas

-Goods delivered safely

-Ships various business items all over the world

-Transports letters, goods, information, household goods, and vehicles

-Can ship pets/ other animals

-Many specialty goods that people desire can be sent to them

-Helps business’ succeed
-One of the main causes of air pollution

-Invasive species cause economic and environmental harm, harm to human health, and can invade managed habitats. They are the single greatest threat to the Galapagos ecosystem

-Invasive species cost a lot of [[#|money]] every year due to environmental damages and losses

-Threatened/ endangered species are at risk because of invasive species

-Invasive species prey on, push them out of their homes, take their food, and breed with (hybridization) native species

Affect of Invasive Species Financially and Environmentally
For many years international shipping has been occurring, bringing many wanted goods to people. In addition, it has brought over at least fifty thousand foreign species of plants, animals, and insects, and this number continues to rise. Many of these foreign species will reproduce with minimal limits, and invade the native environment with many negative effects. Examples include: some invasive plants can cause frequent wildfires; invasive aquatic species can change the water quality, nutrient supply, and interfere with the flow of water; invasive plants can take water from deep soil, reducing the amount available for other uses; some plants do not hold the soil as well, causing erosion; invasive earth worms decrease the protective ground cover of a forest; invasive crabs dig mazes of holes, weakening water-banks and marshes that protect areas from hurricanes. And what is the financial cost of these invasive species? Major environmental damages and losses cost the United States approximately twenty billion dollars a year. It costs approximately seventy four billion dollars a year from the damages caused by only six invasive species. Besides the environmental changes and financial burden international shipping causes, it is also a major source of pollution.
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International shipping is a key source of air pollution. Trucks are responsible for a quarter of the smog-causing pollution. One container ship releases more pollution than two thousand diesel trucks. Ship emissions contain carcinogenic substances. The tiny airborne substances get into the lungs, go through tissue and enter the bloodstream. They cause inflammation, causing heart and lung failure. Per year, international shipping releases over two million tons of sulfur dioxide, three million tons of nitrogen dioxide, two hundred and fifty thousand tons of particulate matter, with air pollution expected to grow forty to fifty percent by 2020. By 2020, if we do not try to cut air pollution from shipping, it will be the biggest, single source of air pollution. And what is the cost of this? Air pollution from international shipping is responsible for approximately fifty thousand deaths per year in Europe. The dollar cost is more than fifty eight billion Euros.
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Affect Invasive Species have on Native Species
Another effect that international shipping is responsible for is its long term effect on various native plants and animals. Approximately forty two percent of native plants and animals are either threatened or endangered species due to the direct negative effects from an invasive species. Invasive species will move and invade new places, directly affecting the native species already there. They may prey on them, take their food sources, push them out of their homes, breed with them (hybridization), shade the native plant species that require sunlight to grow, interfere with the growth, reproduction and development of other species, some produce toxins that harm others, invasive microorganisms kill forest trees and prevent the re-growth of them. The single greatest threat to the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands is the problem of the invasive species due to international shipping. Reptiles are declining on a global scale, all due to invasive species. In our own Mill River ecosystem, the cattails that provide nesting grounds for the red-winged blackbird are being replaced by the invasive species, phragmites. Phragmites is not a food source liked by most animals, and it can easily and speedily produce new shoots through the rhizome root system. As our native species are being invaded, this causes less diversity and decreased productivity of our native ecosystems. There is no dollar amount that can be placed to the long lasting negative impact this will cause to our future.
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Different types of Harlequin ladybug, a rapidly spreading invasive pest. ©Entomart
Different types of Harlequin ladybug, a rapidly spreading invasive pest. ©Entomart

The Future
If international shipping continues, I think that the air will be filled with smog from all the pollution released by the vehicles transporting the goods. Also, invasive species will hurt the population of native species, costing large amounts of money to repair damages. To prevent this from happening, we need to educate people in our communities. Starting in the school system, students should be taught about the negative impacts of international shipping. Also, we need to have our local and federal government be supportive of decreasing international shipping. Federal and local government should support and promote the production of local goods, local farming, fishing, etc., by giving breaks in buying equipment, supplies and taxes paid. We also can support removing or destroying invasive plants, insects, and animals. Some of this can be done as school projects. If we do this, we can improve and reverse some of the negative impacts on our native environment.
Questions I have are: What is the best way to kill off invasive plants safely, without destroying the native plants, too? and How will decreasing international shipping affect the economy of the countries involved?
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Even though the idea of bringing over goods, different foods and plants from other countries seems like a good idea, it has too many negative impacts upon the native land. The negative impacts of international shipping, I feel, are not worth the benefits of having worldly items or foods. It has been shown that some of the negative impacts of international shipping include: invasion and costly environmental damages to local areas, an increase in air pollution, and the negative impact it has on our native plants and animals to live, grow and reproduce, not allowing a diverse and productive ecosystem. If we can convince local people and our government to limit the amount of international shipping that occurs by using our own local resources, then we can slowly change and improve our own native land.

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Works Cited

Orpin, Emily. "International Shipping: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly | Handmade Spark." Handmade Spark is a marketing service for Etsy sellers, and a creative blog for the indie and handmade community. We connect and promote. You design and inspire. . 29 May 2010. Web. 9 May 2013. <>.

Galapagos Conservancy. "Invasive Species: The Greatest Threat to Galapagos." WebPath Express - Login. Web. 2 May 2013. <>.

Mooney, H.A. and E.E. Cleland. "The evolutionary impact of invasive species ." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . 2001. Web. 3 May 2013. <>.

DHL United States. "Company Information." WebPath Express - Login. 2013. Web. 2 May 2013. <>.

SOS International Shipping Corp.. "SOS International Moving, International Movers, International Shipping, Call us today 877-242-6683 (MOVE)." SOS International Moving, International Movers, International Shipping, Call us today 877-242-6683 (MOVE). 2012. Web. 3 May 2013. <>.

"General Information About Invasive Species." National Atlas Home Page. Web. 8 May 2013. <>.

"Air pollution from ships | Transport & Environment." Campaigning for smarter and more sustainable transport | Transport & Environment. Web. 15 May 2013. <>.

" Excess Baggage Worldwide - International Shipping Services." Home - Seven Seas Worldwide - Shipping Excess Baggage Door-to-Door Around the World. Web. 2 May 2013. <>.

" - Ecological Economics - Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States." | Search through over 11 million science, health, medical journal full text articles and books.. Web. 6 May 2013. <>.

"Free Household Shipping Quote - Schumacher Cargo Logistics." International Car Shipping | Auto Transport | International Moving. Web. 6 May 2013. <>.

" BioOne Online Journals - The Global Decline of Reptiles, Déjà Vu Amphibians ." BioOne Online Journals - Home . Web. 3 May 2013.