The European Commission values the logistics industry at €5.4 trillion or 13.8 percent of global GDP. On average, it says, logistics accounts for 10-15 percent of the final cost of a finished product.

However the real value is far higher: without logistics modern societies will collapse much faster than via climate change.

In its latest report, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying regions of Asia will be affected by coastal flooding and land loss as global temperatures increase, ice caps melt and sea levels rise. A subsequent loss in food production and greater vulnerability to disease means these urban areas are likely flashpoints for future conflict.

"The risks of catastrophic consequences increase every day as more greenhouse gas pollution is pumped into the atmosphere," says Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change in the UK.

However if the world's logistics industry acted in concert, global warming could be reduced quite quickly. The message to politicians would be simple: "Reduce carbon emissions or you don't get food, water, clothing, air conditioning, heating, cell phones and, as some flooded residents in the south and west of England recently discovered, your lavatories will back up."

A bit like the Philippines last November.

- Simon Keeble is the editor of Freghtweek