Periodically, I stumble across a statistic that bowls me over, changes the way I think and feel. Earlier this week, I sat over lunch, looking at a recent issue of Diesel Facts, a publication of the German MAN company, which makes diesel engines.
The statistic was in an article about 40,000-horsepower MAN two-stroke marine engines being specified for giant new 400,000-ton bulk carrier ships. The sentence that got me said that 19 such ships “will transport iron ore from South American mines to the Chinese steelworks that currently take 60 percent of all iron ore mined globally.”
Here I am, feeling vaguely green because my little car gets 30 miles per gallon, but meanwhile, zillions of tons of iron ore must be heated red-hot to extract the metal that the world uses. Something will be burned—coal, gas, oil—to provide that heat. Lots of it. I have friends who plan to save the planet by using a solar reflector to bake their bread. I will make a point of not disturbing their tranquility with any stories of millions of tons of ore being shipped halfway around the world by diesel engines.
Way too much reality.