The crisis in the Suez Canal appears to be over. It also appears to have been overblown.
But before it ended, someone was clever and bored enough to create an app allowing you to compare the size of the Evergreen Ever Life to well-known landmarks.
Really? There’s an app for that?
It had already been compared to the Eiffel Tower on its side. And, for the American audience, four football fields. And there was this: The containers stacked on the ship would, if stacked end to end instead, extend 75 miles.
Why do I say it was overblown? Two reasons.
First, it was easy to understand. A big ship that carries a lot of stuff got stuck sideways in the Suez Canal. You can explain that to a child.
The photographs, the video, easily show the scale of the ship compared to tugboats (which the ship’s captain had not been using, apparently, despite inhospitable conditions) and large cranes trying to dig it out. They looked tiny.
Second, and most importantly, most of us aren’t too good at math. I’m not talking calculus here. I’m talking percentages, division.
Let’s start there. The estimated cost of the daily disruption caused during the Evergreen Ever Life’s six-day sideways stay in the canal was put at about $9.6 billion by the venerable Lloyd’s List.
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As near as I can tell, it appears to be the number that has gained wide acceptance, though even Lloyd’s was pretty clear that it was at best a rough estimate.
Now, I don’t wake up most mornings looking for ways to lose $9.6 billion. I wish I had that problem.
And I do not mean to minimize or appear insensitive to those who suffered losses or are suffering even temporary disruptions. They are real and will be really painful to some.
But think of it this way: You have $100 in your pocket in bills and change. Somehow, you drop a penny. Maybe there’s a hole in your pocket. And you drop a penny or two each of the next five days.
All told, less than a dime. About eight cents. You might be able to eventually find three of four of those pennies but a couple might be gone for good.
You still have $99.92 in your pocket. How bad do you feel? How much sleep are you losing?
That would be the equivalent impact with European Union-China total trade calculated at US$710 billion.
The impact is even less on the United States, with some East Coast ports like the Port of Virginia and the Port of Savannah affected, as I wrote previously.
The good news is that the world is learning more about how important global trade is to our daily existence, whether it is semiconductor shortages that are affecting the automotive industry; a container ship traffic jam offshore from the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach; or the impact of trade wars and tariffs on things like soybeans, steel and oil, and more.