Home Business Outbreaks, ship jams, and then tropical storms shut down ports and hit U.S. supply chains hard
Outbreaks, ship jams, and then tropical storms shut down ports and hit U.S. supply chains hard

Outbreaks, ship jams, and then tropical storms shut down ports and hit U.S. supply chains hard

by YCPress

Ports in southeastern New England have been closed by the U.S. Coast Guard as strong winds and heavy rain from Tropical Storm Henry sweep through the region on August 22, local time, Business Insider reported.

Several ports, including Narragansett Bay and Mount Hope Bay, are currently on Hurricane Zulu alert, meaning the port is closed due to strong winds and ships are not allowed in and out, the Coast Guard said in a statement late Saturday.

Previously, the port was already in a “Yankee” state, meaning a tropical or hurricane-strength storm is expected to make landfall at the port within 24 hours.

The report said Tropical Storm Henry and the resulting port closures came at a time when recent surges in transport costs were slowing global supply chains and leading to massive shortages of goods, with last year’s coronavirus pandemic severely damaging supply chains and the closure of the Suez Canal earlier this year making the situation worse.

Business Insider reports that the world’s major shipping unions will cut capacity between Asia and Europe by 22 percent by spring 2020, while operators will cut capacity between Asia and North America by about 20 percent.

In 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the U.S. Coast Guard reported $70 billion in damage to more than 180 ports in the region that would take months to recover.

Wildfires in the western U.S., floods in China and Europe, and drought in South America have disrupted supply chains for everything from wood to chocolate to rice for sushi, CNBC reported.

“Whether you’re in the agriculture, forestry, or technology sectors, virtually no industry is immune from climate change,” said Christy Slay, senior director of science and research applications at the Alliance for Sustainable Development.

CNBC points out that, for example, about a quarter of the timber consumed in the United States comes from Canada, which is experiencing severe drought and wildfires. Brazil is suffering its worst drought in more than a century, which in part caused coffee futures prices to soar in July, almost double the previous year. While the growth has not yet been passed on to consumers, experts say price increases will come soon. Even pearl rice for sushi has been hit, with two-thirds of the crop consumed in the U.S. growing in California, which faces water shortages due to drought and wildfires, and rice crops that produce large amounts of water.

Extreme weather events can disrupt supply chains because workers can’t find work. According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Programme, workplace disruption caused by climate change could result in more than $2 trillion in lost productivity by 2030.