What would really happen if shipping stopped?

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

If there was really a plague that shut down all the ports along the east coast of the US, tens of thousands of people would be out of work, and a whole lot things we rely on wouldn’t be available to us. In the book, Candace’s team worries it would be a major disaster that could lead to mass poverty, riots, and maybe even anarchy. It’s not an exaggeration.

In 2012, dock workers from Boston to Houston walked out on their jobs and threatened to go on strike. Those ports move more than 100 million tons of goods every year and supply billions of dollars to the American economy. People were so worried that 100 businesses wrote to President Obama to ask him to use his emergency authority to bar the strike.

If all those ports were shut down indefinitely, there would be food shortages because America imports more than 20% of its food. Many manufacturers and the business that sell their goods would shut down because most of them rely on imported parts to make their products. Stores that sell everything from clothing to T.V.s and electronics wouldn’t have anything to sell.

And what about the stuff we sell? The U.S. exported more than $2 TRILLION dollars worth of goods in 2012, and imported almost $3 TRILLION dollars worth of goods. The vast majority of that came from shipping. If most of it were shut down, how do you think that would affect the countries we trade with?

Global crisis?? Definitely.

[We’ve talked about shipping before, and although our global economy would fall apart without it, there are definitely some problems associated with shipping, and we could do a better job of making it safer for the ocean environment.]

This information comes from:
The U.S. Census Bureau, an Associated Press news story and The New York Times

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