A ton mile gives us a measurement term to talk about the carbon footprint of shipping an item. It also helps us compare the impact of shipping products using different transport methods.
Unless he overdid it on the brussel sprouts last night, the carbon emissions of a moose walking a mile down Main Street is going to be far less than the carbon emissions of a cargo plane moving pirate gold to their secret grotto.
AsScope5 puts it: “Not all ton-miles are equivalent in terms of their impact.”
CarbonFund provides a breakdown of types of shipping, in order of least impact to most impact: