The consequences of our inter-connected and time-space compressed world are all too apparent in Chittagong on the Bay of Biscay in Bangladesh. The dependence upon containerisation has meant that ships have got bigger and bigger;the world's biggest ship, the Maersk Triple-E (http://www.worldslargestship.com/), dwarfs the size of container ships 10years ago. The question is: where do all these ships go to die? Where does their life cycle come to an end? The answer, is in the hands of the LDC countries, where ship graveyards like in Chittagong, have emerged and informal sector jobs have been created in a region beset by extreme poverty and at continuous risk from climate change.
As ever it is the world's most vulnerable and poorest who work to break these monolithic metal monsters apart, often with the most basic of tools. It is no surprise therefore, to learn that today 4 workers have died and 2 others are critically ill, after inhaling toxic gas (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15334152). In a cruel twist of fate it is the poor again who pick up the price tag and who bear the brunt of the environmental degradation on their landscape, while the core superpowers continue to thrive and grow.
As the CBS news report states (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/03/60minutes/main2149023.shtml):
"We all know how ships are born, how majestic vessels are nudged into the ocean with a bottle of champagne. But few of us know how they die. And hundreds of ships meet their death every year. From five-star ocean liners, to grubby freighters, literally dumped with all their steel, their asbestos, their toxins on the beaches of some the poorest countries in the world, countries like Bangladesh."
Click here for the video news report: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3228443n
On a different tangent, it appears that ship wreck are causing a different type of environmental degradation in Lagos in Nigeria. It is interesting to see how the ships have acted as natural groynes causing a lack of sediment further down the coast.- see the report below: