shipping; containerization; port; standardization; mechanization; transportation; coastal zone management; environmental awareness; Panama Canal
Our hectic world is one filled with constant change through motion: the movement of ideas, political thought, money, people, and cargo all coming together to create an economy of global scale and activity. Transportation is the connection between both these intangible notions and physical bodies. It is through the evolution of one of the fastest growing and most influential transportation industries that we have conquered an international shipping exchange. International trade has dominated as a leader of world economics through the traffic in ports, its ancillary coastal regulations, management of the navigable waterways, and a revolution in containerization. This ‘industry on the sea’ transports billions of dollars worth of goods across rivers and oceans each year. Ports stand as a connecting facility to process this cargo to its final destination. Ports symbolize much more than a coastal processing complex. Above and beyond functional satisfaction, these seacoast landmarks represent business, international relations, a welcoming committee, a center for trade, a fast paced work environment of deadlines and scheduling, and the most expensive, technologically advanced marinas on our coastlines. This study focuses on the value of ports from a practical and business approach, detailing the importance of operational offloading, the container transformation of the shipping industry during the 1960s and its direct relationship to employment, scheduling, overhead, and ship movement, and the technological innovations in port machinery. The overall impact of ports on the environment and governmental interest has also led to multiple Acts, government funding, and country wide initiatives to balance the delicate scale of environmental protection and economic trade. Strict Coastal Zone Management regulations, environmental directives, and efforts to appease the local aesthetic and ecological desires further tip that fragile scale. Recent national and international issues have also substantially impacted the shipping industry and add an interesting segment to my analysis. Hurricane Katrina, forming August 23, 2005, caused havoc in the southern U.S. states, particularly affecting the New Orleans coastal region and one of the largest port centers on the Atlantic coast. Current political controversy between the United States and Dubai has also left many intrigued on our fragile international relations. This study is dedicated to a deeper understanding of ports and their role in our global economy, also focusing on factors contributing to the unprecedented growth. The initiatives taken on behalf of local and federally involved leaders of the shipping world to understand and develop ports as an imperative part of global business truly demonstrate the dependency we have on ports to sustain our trade relationships.