How Our Dependence on Global Shipping Will Come Back to Bite Us

by | Feb 13, 2018 | Headline News | 65 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Cat Ellis at The Organic Prepper


    If the general public understood how vulnerable our reliance on global shipping made us, they’d all become preppers overnight. Trucks, planes, and cargo ships are responsible for just about everything modern life depends upon. This reliance on global goods and long-distance shipping puts us all at risk.

    Our Dependence Upon Global Shipping

    Modern shipping keeps us clothed and fed. It brings us necessary medicines, fuel to the pumps, and delivers chemicals necessary to municipal water treatment plants. It is truly amazing how seamless it all appears to the average consumer, especially considering shipping’s global scale.

    That is until there is a problem. Problems can be anything from a trucker’s strike to a plane crashing to a cyber attack shutting down the largest global shipping company.

    Global shipping is a necessary evil in a world where we rely on global goods. When companies take their manufacturing operations overseas, the first thing we think of is lost jobs. But, we also put access to those goods at risk. Some of these risks include:

    • Relations with China breaking down over North Korea.
    • Hackers taking down software (navigation, customer orders, inventory tracking, systems diagnostics, etc) on ships, planes, trucks, and at ports and command centers.
    • An EMP causing all electronic systems to cease working.
    • Employees of shipping companies across an industry going on an extended strike.
    • Deteriorating domestic infrastructure interfering with the delivery of goods.
    • War/terrorism anywhere in the world causing delays and lost shipments of imports/exports.

    Just a 24-Hour Delay Causes Shortages

    A perfect example of this is shipping fresh food to Alaska all year long. Alaskan grocery stores do what they can to stock Alaska-grown items on their shelves, but due to the climate, Alaskans rely on imported produce and goods. The Anchorage Daily News reported on the impact of a single ship being delayed by just 24 hours for a repair.

    Here’s what one of their agriculture experts had to say about why Alaska imports so much of its food.

    Much of Alaska’s food comes up by container ship over the water. Some also arrives via trucks that take the Alaska Highway, or by air freight.

    “It’s cheaper to barge or fly it in than it is to grow it here,” said Stephen Brown, a Palmer-based district agriculture agent with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The problem with that is that creates a very fragile food supply that’s very easy to be disrupted.” (source)

    Further into the above-linked article, a recent disruption came when a ship needed repairs before heading up to Alaska.

    A Tote Maritime Alaska ship was the one that was late getting to Anchorage last week, due to a weld that required a repair by divers in Tacoma.

    “When there are disruptions to that supply chain, things can become difficult rather quickly. That’s when you can start to see shelves looking a little bit thinner. … Nobody wants to buy 2-week-old strawberries that are half-rotten,” said Grace Greene, vice president at Tote Maritime Alaska. “Having a tight supply chain is really critical.”

    Cyberattacks Can Shut Down Global Shipping

    This isn’t just an Alaska problem. Disruptions in shipping can happen anywhere and on a much larger scale. Recently, global shipping giant, AP Moller-Maersk, was hit by a major ransomware attack. This left ships sailing off course and ports were unable to accept ships.

    According to Reuters:

    The cyber attack was among the biggest-ever disruptions to hit global shipping. Several port terminals run by a Maersk division, including in the United States, India, Spain, the Netherlands, were still struggling to revert to normal operations on Thursday after experiencing massive disruptions. (source)

    This was a wake up call for many in the industry. The article goes on to say

    “The Maersk attack raises our awareness of the vulnerability of shipping and ports to technological failure,” said Professor David Last, a previous president of Britain’s Royal Institute of Navigation.

    “When GPS fails, ships’ captains lose their principal means of navigation and much of their communications and computer links. They have to slow down and miss port schedules,” said Last, who is also a strategic advisor to the General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland. (source)

    There’s a Shortage of Truck Drivers

    Add to this that we are experiencing a shortage of truck drivers due to fewer people looking for work, plus increased shipping costs due to increased regulations. The CEO of Tyson foods says:

    “These additional costs are included in our outlook,” he told investors and analysts Feb. 8. “However, we’re assuming we’ll recover the majority through” higher prices for consumers.

    The tightness in the trucking market probably won’t ease any time soon. Employers can’t find enough drivers — at least at the wages companies want to pay — as low unemployment spurs competition from other industries.

    Construction jobs, for example, pay on par or better and allow workers to be home more with their families. Long-distance truckers can be on the road for weeks at a time. (source)

    If a kink in the chain develops, there are fewer people capable of stepping in when needed.

    Imagine If Truckers Went on Strike

    If long-haul truckers were to strike, the store shelves would be bare within days. Everything from food, medicines, toilet paper, to gasoline would disappear from store shelves. Life as we know it would come to a grinding halt.

    Back in 2008, diesel fuel prices rose so high that truckers protested and rallied in cities across the US, threatening to go on strike.

    Independent U.S. truckers are planning to stop hauling freight Tuesday in protest of record-high diesel prices that drivers say they can no longer afford.

    Independent truckers, who constitute 90 percent of the nation’s trucking fleet, are being hit especially hard by soaring diesel prices and compensation lags far behind rising costs, according to the American Trucking Association. (source)

    Thankfully, we didn’t experience a nationwide trucker strike that time. The economy was already on shaky ground as it was.

    Just 5 days Until Chaos

    So, how long would we really have? You need to check out this article with a video on how we only have about five days before things get really bad. Two quotes from the video really stood out to me. First:

    “The growth and population in this country, and the need for the movement of goods and services, is literally going to overwhelm the infrastructure as we know it today.”

    And the second quote:

    “We are now investing a smaller percentage of our Gross Domestic Product in transportation infrastructure than many third world countries.”

    This is a recipe for a disaster if I ever saw one. According to the video, here’s what our situation would look like within 5 days:

    • Day One– We lose resupply of food and medicines, mail stops, and hospitals run out of clean linens.
    • Day Two– Gas stations are running out of gas, sanitation systems start to fail, local stores and ATMs run out of cash.
    • Day Three– Pumps are out of gas, stores have no fresh produce, banks run out of cash, and hoarding begins in earnest.
    • Day Four– Emergency vehicles and public transport run out of fuel, airports close, and trash piles up in the streets.
    • Day Five– Chaos

    Unless something changes, we will have more people needing more goods and services, and we won’t be able to get them because our infrastructure won’t be able to handle it.

    How Would You Have Fared?

    Had truckers gone on a nationwide strike, or if the Petya ransomware attack had interfered with Maersk shipping for more than a few weeks, how would you have held out?

    Thankfully, most of the scenarios that would impact shipping are temporary, perhaps a few days to a few weeks. Having just a three-month stockpile of food and supplies would cover most emergencies, including shipping delays.

    You can easily put three month’s worth of necessities aside by adding by buying an extra food item each trip for your pantry. As for your other supplies, look at the five days detailed above. Use that as a guide for what to stock up on.

    Here are a few more things to keep in mind.

    And finally, get more toilet paper than you think you need. There are options, like personal cloths, squeeze-bottle bidets, and scrap paper, but none of them are quite like toilet paper.

    The more you localize your family’s supply chain, the better off you’ll be during a disruption.

    Any other ideas for prepping for an interruption of shipping?

    Let me know in the comments.


    Cat Ellis is an herbalist,  massage therapist, midwifery student, and urban homesteader from New England. She keeps bees, loves gardening and canning, and practice time at the range. She teaches herbal skills on her website, Herbal Prepper. Cat is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, and the author of two books, Prepper’s Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic.

    The Pantry Primer

    Please feel free to share any information from this article in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to The Organic Prepper and the following bio.

    Daisy Luther is the author of The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide To Whole Food on a Half Price Budget.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]


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      1. Brass & lead to protect your taters and onions!

        • If you haven’t already, read this article titled “when the trucks stop, America stops.”

          It is a 9 page memo that gives a timeline of collapse when the 18 wheelers stop running.

          interesting read, here it is in PDF.

          ht tp://

        • In an old John Wayne movie the cattle thief’s ask ( Se-nor do you have any Gold, No, any Silver, No, John said All I have is LEAD) for you.

      2. I have all the above list except I need another pallet of toilet paper. 3 months ain’t nothin though. He left out tannerite, ammo, traps, hand tools, etc.

        “The growth and population in this country, and the need for the movement of goods and services, is literally going to overwhelm the infrastructure as we know it today.”
        Another nail in the coffin of humanity.

        “If the general public understood how vulnerable our reliance on global shipping made us, they’d all become preppers overnight.”
        Not so, The pubic at large is way to stupid to be preppers, they have no skills or common sense. No experience and no nothing. They will just eat a shit sandwich without the bread. I can go a looooonnngggg time without outside help (other than medical). Oh and maybe another 500 lbs. of sugar 😛

        • Genius, I’ve also got everything on that list and some other things I won’t mention [OPSEC]. And you hit the nail perfectly about the majority of people being too stupid to prep. There’s no one home upstairs [IN THEIR HEADS] The property probably got condemned by code enforcement, LOL!

        • Agreed on hand tools. For every power tool I have, i have a back up hand tool.

          It will be hard to keep the tools working if there is no power.

          Garage sales are great places to find these tools really cheap.

        • Like you guys above – my list is pretty much complete as well. Though ‘genius’, I gotta kid ya…. you’re so full of it at times, I’d suggest 2 pallets, LOL. ME?… HELL, at least 4 just for my line of b.s. Bottom line is that we all need to be self-sufficient for the needs of life. Dependency could be defined as the willingness to give up freedom for essentials.

        • The Food Lion here had sugar on sale this past week. They had two bags (4 lb.) for $5.00, and on top of that it was buy two, get one free. So the final price was less than 42 cents a pound. Any time sugar is less than 50 cents a pound, I get more.

          • Sugar is Poison. Rots your teeth and is a leading cause of cancer. Cancer loves sugar. Native Americans over thousands of years rarely had any tooth decay. Of older adult skeletons found there was never any tooth decay. They ate corn, squash, beans and suplimented that with meats and fish. There was no sugar in their diets. Sugar is poison.

            Get someSolar of Solar just to run lights ans a radio and a small fridge. I rank electricity right up there with water. No fridge or freezer means you have to consume every meal with no way to preserve left overs. Been off grid for nearly 3 years now. Also buy a half dozen 5 gal water jugs to store back up water. My biggest use of water is doing dishes. About a gallon per wash. Heat up a tea kettle with boiling water squirt dish soap on your dishes in a small plastic tub. Pour hot watet over them just enough to wet them to wash them with a sponge, then rinse the soap off with a spicket jug of cold water. Be very conservative. The majority if the water used is just rinsing the soap off the dishes. Think minimalist survivalist situation. Use ceramic cookware to just wipe all the food out of the pans and dishes before you finish washing them.

            Last Sunday I had a tree stump I needed to burn up so I got a good fire going in the hollowed out stump. Put a seasoned 10 lb butterball trukey in a cast iron dutch oven with about 1.5 inches of water in the pan and cooked in the burning tree stump. Basted it a few times and up to about 180 deg with a meat thermometer. It was full cooked in about an hour 15 mins. Unbelievably delicious. Practice all of these skills now for when there is no grid period.

            • I’ve been thinking about the water use for dishes. I was wondering if it would be a good idea to get cheap paper plates and then once used, roll them up and tie for fire starter logs?

        • My last trip to a town was Nov. 7th– for my Gene’s new glasses and exam.
          He brings milk/bread/tomatoes home when helping at his job; I’ve wanted for nothing.
          Yes, we have a pizza every now and then, but we are fine for a very long time!!
          Sure wish I could make an edible mayonnaise–I’ve tried and failed many times…and we love tuna/chicken salad.

          • hello jayjay, haven’t seen your name in a while. good to hear from an old-timer! another thing not really mentioned here is what happens to PRICE when you stop selling the same amount of items. when you sell less items, the price must go UP, and not just a little. for example, if walmart stopped selling a million gallons of milk a week, and it went down to HALF a million gallons, then prices would have to rise a LOT. it’s the same all over the business world. when you sell more VOLUME, prices can go DOWN….when volume goes DOWN, it can be brutal to prices. as we go into our next “greater depression”, we will see prices rise EXPONENTIALLY, i think. hope y’all got STUFF!

      3. I said this before and I will say it again, One of the most prized items to personally have will be toilet paper because if the butt ain’t wiped, nothing else is right.

        From the posting…

        And finally, get more toilet paper than you think you need. There are options, like personal cloths, squeeze-bottle bidets, and scrap paper, but none of them are quite like toilet paper.

        See, told you all.

        Let me add, there nothing like damp medicated toilet paper. In all your bug out bags.

        A person cannot prepare for every SHTF event that is posted. But I believe the most significant threat to survive will not be civil unrest or economic disaster, but earth changes as in earthquakes and other threats from nature.

        If scientists are correct and it has taken years for some to get on the same page and if we are entering a period of the sun cooling which some say will lead to a a mini-ige age, then food will be in a short supply but it will be as you all know, the cold and worse will be shorter growing seasons.

        • If my wife has any say I will need an oversea container of TP lol.

          • One thing that works well is (I did it for years)is get a portable toilet (got mine with 6 gallon tank at as yard sale for 5 bux new). Just dig a pit away from your dwelling and when the tank is full just dump it. I recommend Thetford Aquachem to treat it. I did this for 10 years before putting in a septic system and it worked just fine. Very low water usage too. Far superior to an outhouse, very little space, no smell, cheap.

            • This is the newer version of what I got for 5 bux (looks like I got a hell of a deal).

              ht tp://

              • Thanks for the link!

          • I beg to differ with the toilet paper advocates. A bidet makes much more sense that smearing shit accross your backside with a piece of paper.

            • You’re wiping in the wrong direction.

              Didn’t your mama teach you anything?

              • You’re right. Don’t shower, wipe yourself off with newspapers. How could I have been so foolish!

                • You fool! Wipe yer butt with yer credit card bills etc. lol 😛

            • anon… how exactly do you dry that off?

              • baby wipes will be in BIG demand… will MILK, yeast, honey….awww, never mind. nobody listens anyway.

            • I think the best sanitation system would be to have two sets of flannel family cloth (for #1and #2), some toilet paper and a peri bottle(hand held bidet, got a couple Post partum). Use the peri bottle to rinse as much as possible. Wipe any remaining with toilet paper and dry with family cloth. Once the toilet paper is gone, family cloth works just fine. The key is to let the water do most of the clean up and leave the toilet paper for the tough jobs.

      4. And why would ocean shipping stop? Not even war stops shipping. It would take the worst possible natural disaster to stop it temporarily. Just prep and continue to march.

        • Naval blockade.

          Germany did it to England during WWII. at that time England imported 80% of it’s food. The Nazi goal was to starve England into submission.

          • Armed convoys corrected that. My father was on the USS Leary when she was torpedoed and sunk Christmas Eve 1943. On convoy duty.

        • didja forget, yer in the 21st century now, bub.

      5. Day one through day 4, just happened here. There was no Day 5 with chaos.
        I think a majority of people were in a mild state of shock for there not to be chaos.
        It would happen eventually, though.

        An infection is one of the greater dangers we would face. A simple laceration to staph, a bad tooth to sepsis, hell, a compound fracture!

        I’ll post the last part of our experience this weekend with a short link to the first 5 parts. That’s if the anti spam or whatever the reason I sometimes cannot post allows me..

        PS, how about a guzzler hand water pump as a TP substitute? Or a modified bilge pump? Just thinking outside the outhouse box. 🙂

        • Ya but you still need to dry off with something. Don’t want to walk around with swampass lol.

          • Or perhaps you couls use a captured liberal as your own groom of the stool lmao!

            • I’ll let Hillary Klinton lick my asshole clean. That’s a perfect job for her.

              • You would get herpes.

                Probably get herpes just standing in the vicinity of Bill Clinton.

              • Don’t make me lose my dinner!

          • Old towels and sheets can be cut up into squares. I wouldn’t want the job of washing them but they could be boiled and reused. I have fleece sheets, those would work well.

            From experience, when I was young, personal cloths (we used towels) worked when we ran out of money to buy TP. It isn’t fun but it works. Or you can save TP for only number 2 and use towels / cloths for number 1.

            The key is to be flexible, have a sense of humor, and be grateful for the small things.

            • tp for # 2 and cloth for #1–my plan also.

        • KUPD
          If toilet paper is gone,
          I thought you were supposed to use “family cloths”.
          When I was young, I was forced to help clean my sisters
          diapers. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy.
          Just need bleach, and Ivory soap.
          If you are a Prepper Ivory is the best soap
          to buy, short of making your own.
          I also keep a few gallons of Betadine on hand
          for really gross stuff.

          • forced to clean you sisters diapers?

            That is the only reason to have two or more kids, make the kids clean up the baby.

            Agreed on Ivory soap. I use that religiously.

            • Yep and it’s cheap in the 6 pack bundle. That reminds me, I need a towel in my bob….

          • re KUPD. Dave Pratt from Elko and the Freeway Mooner [circa 1985]

        • On the topic of infection:

          I use the essential oil Lavender for minor cuts and burns. Works a thousand percent better than neosporin or similar anti-biotic creams.

          • Essential oils are the best. BTW, pretty much the only thing we seem to produce here is dumbed down young’uns and Liberals. Damn shame we can’t export them.

        • The best thing I’ve found for open wound infections is Medline Arglaes silver powder. Google it. That’s what the hospital used on me years ago. It’s expensive at about $25 for a 5 gram bottle.

          Everyone should get as much as they can afford.

        • Most people won;t need TP after day three-No food no TP. No trash no trash pickup. Easy peasey.

      6. Have a backup toilet

        How about taking a piss in the back yard?

        • Or the neighbors backyard.

        • Urine is sterile when you excrete it.
          No big deal.
          Feces is not sterile.
          It needs to processed somehow.
          In my case I have Septic tanks, Cesspools
          rats, and slugs take care of it.
          If your city sewers break down city people
          will get very sick.
          But look at India they bathe in a river full
          of dead people.

          • I still have my portable toilet as backup. It is great. Buy aquachem by the gallon for treatment cheap too. A 3x3x3 pit lasted 10 years and still had room. Want to poop outside in the cold? Fook that, a portable toilet is small and can fit anywhere. As far as peeing, I just pee on the weeds, it actually kills them in time lol.

      7. Emergency vehicles and public transport run out of fuel

        Most, if not all, have their own gas pumps. Part of Hurricane preparedness in Texas was a mandate from the State for local authorities to have their own gas tanks.

        There was an economic incentive to do this because the local governments could then avoid paying for the federal and state tax on gas as they would have to if they filled up at the convenience store.

        • They still get their gas through the same distribution system.

      8. Learn to forage and recognize wild, edible and medicinal plants.

        This lady is dead now, but her family got the good idea to document some of her depression era cooking ideas. She has some good videos.

        • I will have to check those out! She sounds like she was quite a character!

        • There is a trick to cooking bitter greens. What trick? Blanche them in hot water for 15 seconds to one minute and move to a bowl of cold water. Flavored vinegar also helps mask the bitterness.

        • I couldn’t eat the dandelions in my yard. That big-headed Chesapeake bay retriever we got shits everywhere in the yard and does a pile big enough to lose a small child in.

      9. Cat Ellis, thanks for a great article. We are totally dependent on shipping in the Hawaiian islands. Many Americans do not realize the huge percentage of food, goods, and commodities that require shipping & trucking to be delivered to the customer. We would be lucky if our island food production could support 10 % of us. The fuel supply would be even more deficient.

      10. Foreign manufacturing is the Achilles Heel, the weak link. The US is actually better than most with sufficient food production and indigenous energy or at least energy within this hemisphere.

      11. Nuts to the shipping. “If the general public understood how vulnerable our reliance on . . .” China Crap is we would be localizing food production and critical manufacturing as being critical to national security.

        The China Crap thing is worse than the Japan Crap or the Asia Crap thing ever was.

        Right now, all our feckless, dysfunctional government would have to do is get into a trade war, or a real war, with China and “all this” would come to an end right quick.

        All China would have to do is sit back, wait 4-years, until all the China crap broke . . . and declare victory.

      12. Clara Rocks

      13. I buy products made in America, and organic food produced locally. Where I live there are many farmers markets. IMHO, prepping for some future event is a small part of being prepared; living so that it doesn’t matter that much what happens globally.


      14. If you live in a rural area just shit in the woods and wipe with leaves. Some opossum or insects will consume yer turds. When I crap outdoors I cover it with a flat rock. That way I don’t step in it and have it embedded in my boots. You all must of never heard of a outhouse and corn husk.

      15. China has us by the nutsack. Consumer spending is 70% of our economy (or so I’m told).
        We could easily say stop buying foreign made shit. Stores close, more Americans not
        working. Sword of Damocles.

      16. mac, very good article!

      17. In a situation where you have to use a portable toilet, I have purchased two 50 gallon cans (burn cans) and punched holes in the sides so air can flow and give fire the oxygen it needs. Going to have to dispose of the waste because, untreated waste will lead to disease. Yes you can bury it, but you will run out of places to dig.

        Yes, but you can pee behind the tree, but that gets old and the smell when the wind shifts.

        Yes if you have a septic tank where you can modify the waster intake to take waste during an event.

        All of us here agreed one this point. Personal/family sanitation during any kind of loss of electrical power for any period of time is the upmost importance and I wonder if we really enough attention to that area?

        Just like earth changes: Coming to the forefront now where as in the past it has been a focus on a collapse of society with extreme civil unrest to include culture clashes.

      18. I know about the sugar (too much of it)being bad for you. Native Americans did have tooth decay problems, like everyone else. Sugar is a good prep because, it doesn’t age all that much, it helps to prevent food exhaustion,(you’re tired of eating the same stuff all the time) it can be used to help produce alcohol, that in itself has a hundred uses, and it can be bartered for things you’re short. Believe it or not, in the Army I would bring Kool-Aid and sugar to the field, and when my soldiers would get cranky, give them some Kool-Aid. It helped with morale, something that might be critical.

      19. Growing as much of your own food as possible is your best protection. You minimize the possibility of disruption and you control the quality of the food grown. Heavy metals in the soil and water are a serious health problem, particularly in some areas. Most soil tests focus on PH and nutrient deficiencies;heavy metal levels are becoming higher everyday. One technique to rid the soil from heavy metals while improving the soil is to grow mushrooms. Garden giant and white rot are two excellent choices. Do an internet search on “mycoremediation” for more information.

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