Liner shipping is a vital part of international trade today, moving massive amounts of goods across the world from producers to consumers, in an advanced network which has gradually been built up over the course of the postwar years. There are, however, both upsides and downsides to this upward shift in international trade.
Lowering of Costs
The development of liner shipping has been a critical component in the low cost of shipping throughout the world, which has made the transport of goods from lands far away a possibility. Furthermore, a result of this has been the lowering of price for the goods being produced, providing the consumer with a greater assortment of goods for a lower price. This in turn has served to increase standards of living for a large part of the human population.
Increase in Availability
The rise of liner shipping has also coincided with another positive effect -- the increase in availability of many goods in a multitude of countries. By serving to increase trade between nations, goods inherent in certain countries suddenly become available in others as well. As an example of this we can take oranges, not commonly present in the northern parts of the world. With trade and massive liner shipping, oranges are now present at low cost even in the cold expanses of the northern hemisphere.
Liner shipping has also worked to achieve something greater as well. By pushing down costs and increasing efficiency of production, shipping has yielded economic growth throughout the global arena. This has been achieved by a more efficient allocation of resources than before. With production managed more efficiently due to trade, resources that were previously used in production can now be allocated to new production, increasing economic growth.
However, there is one great disadvantage of the massive increase in liner shipping, and that is the environmental costs of it. A large number of great shipping vessels moving all over the globe produce a large amount of environmentally disruptive emissions, even though liners' emissions are lower than those of trains, cars and airplanes of corresponding weight. This could serve to shake the fragile ecological balance in the world. Furthermore, we must also take into account the indirect effects of liner shipping. This indirect damage is caused through the goods that it carries. By encouraging increased economic output and production, liner shipping has increased worldwide output of emissions which harm the environment.