Almost 90 percent of everything we buy arrives via ship, writes Rose George in her actually mind-blowing new book Ninety Percent of Everything, published tomorrow, which covers her months-long adventure with the shipping industry — the biggest business that you know nothing about.
George, a British journalist and author of an entire 326-page book about poop and pee, spent months traveling the ocean on various massive ships the length of football fields and the height of Niagara Falls to report this book on shipping, which she calls "the invisible industry":
"These ships and boxes belong to a business that feeds, clothes, warms, and supplies us. They have fueled if not created globalization. They are the reason behind your cheap T-shirt and reasonably priced television. But who looks behind a television now and sees the ship that brought it? Who cares about the men who steered your breakfast cereal through winter storms? How ironic that the more ships have grown in size and consequence, the less space they take up in our imagination."
With its wide scope, voice of intellectual curiosity, and inter-ocean adventure, the book is reminiscent of Donovan Hohn's popular Moby Duck, which followed the path of 28,000 bath toys lost at sea after a shipping container capsized. Much as Hohn did in his book, George travels the world to show that shipping is actually pretty interesting.
We sailed, as it were, through the book to bring you the Top 10 Most Fascinating Facts About the Shipping Industry:
1. Shipping is the "greenest" mass transport
Compared to the energy expended moving goods by plane or truck, shipping is far less damaging in terms of greenhouse gases released: "Sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre (France) emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon." However, the shipping industry is so big that, if you added shipping to the list of the world's most polluting countries, it would come in sixth place. So it's not exactly environmentally beneficial. Plus, ships can't do this: