Here’s How a North Korean Nuclear Attack Could Ruin the U.S. Economy

Kim Jong-Un

It feels more real than ever. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

The threat of a nuclear attack on American soil has many citizens scratching their heads in disbelief. Some are outraged or downright terrified. One certainty is that nuclear warfare is possible. Considering Kim Jong Un and President Trump continue to exchange threats, fear and paranoia have been cultivated among the American people.

In a perfect world, the United States remains safe and world peace prevails. Unfortunately, this theory feels more and more unrealistic. So, let’s imagine the U.S. does not remain safe. What if North Korea launches a hydrogen bomb or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) into the atmosphere. What happens? Some claim that 90% of the U.S. population would be wiped out, while others claim that theory is improbable.

Should you pull out your tin foil hat and retreat to your neighbor’s bunker? Maybe. But ultimately, the probability of a Hiroshima-esque attack is unlikely. Instead, North Korea would take the route of discharging a high-altitude EMP, scrambling the infrastructure and electronic grid of the affected area. The impacts of an EMP attack would devastate crucial infrastructures, having the potential to cripple the economy of the United States.

1. The electrical grid would be wrecked

The altitude at which an EMP is detonated would determine the amount of havoc wreaked. For instance, an EMP detonated 19 miles above U.S. soil would impact the grids of Kansas and its surrounding states. On the other hand, an EMP that detonates 294 miles above U.S. soil would impact the nation as a whole. After such a horrendous attack, the electrical grids and circuit boards would be overloaded and unable to function. Cue the chaos.

Next: Could you survive losing this connection?

2. No more Internet for Americans

Say goodbye to Wi-Fi. | Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not just millennials who would struggle to adjust to life without the World Wide Web. 73% of Americans use the Internet daily to connect with the world. In 2014, the internet generated $966 billion, and the economy grew by 110% between 2007 and 2012 all because of internet-based businesses. The mystical and almighty power of the internet allows businesses at large to function day-in and day-out. Lucky enough, the internet doesn’t live in the United States and it wouldn’t die due to an EMP attack. That’s the good news. The bad news is that an EMP attack would fry electronics in the affected area, seizing operations for U.S. based business operations.

Next: Besides the internet, this luxury would disappear too.

3. Telecommunications networks would collapse

Communication would be crippled. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Think broadly here. Telecommunications encompasses telephones, mobile phones, satellites, fiber optics, telegraphs, and of course the internet. Removing all modes of communication would be a profound and crippling act of warfare in the United States. On a global level, telecommunications accounts for 2.5% of the gross domestic product. Meaning for every $1,000 spent, $250 goes into the telecommunications category. The economy would take a major hit.

Next: The removal of this key element is unfathomable. 

4. Access to money would be obsolete

A man takes out banknotes from an automated teller machine (ATM)

Considering how few people actually carry cash, we’d be screwed. | Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. dollar is an important piece of the economy. Once Americans become unable to access that dollar, the economy takes a nosedive. Swiping a credit or debit card would no longer be possible. Withdrawing dollars from the bank would no longer be possible. The U.S. currency would inevitably have very little value — if any.

Next: Would your debt records be erased? 

5. Financial institutions would crash

They could lose all their data. | iStock/Getty Images

An EMP attack would send the United States pretty darn close to the “dark ages”. Building shields of defense could potentially protect financial institutions from losing data, but that is a measure that would have to be in place beforehand. Sure, I know what you’re thinking. Would all records of your student loans and financial debt be erased? It’s possible, but not guaranteed.

Next: What would happen to the infrastructure of the U.S.? 

6. Infrastructure would greatly suffer

American Airlines airplane taking off at Dallas - Ft Worth (DFW) Airport in Texas.

Travel would be next to impossible. | Aneese/iStock/Getty Images

In the event of an EMP, some have hypothesized that airplanes would fall out of the sky and trains would come to a screeching halt on the tracks. Is there any truth to this? That is hard to know. In modern aircrafts and vehicles at large, electronic powering plays a major role. Some studies claim that vehicles could glide to a stop, then be restarted. Nevertheless, your car needs gasoline or a place to plug in for power. Neither of those options would be available.

Next: Would the nation be able to support this necessity? 

7. Crops could be contaminated or wiped out altogether

Kansas faces severe drought

Crops would likely be contaminated. | John Moore/Getty Images

North Korea claims it has successfully tested a thermonuclear bomb, also known as a hydrogen bomb. The world braces. Keep in mind that hydrogen bombs have never been used in warfare — atomic bombs have. Hydrogen bombs are far more powerful than those of the atomic variety and would fling radioactive material all over the targeted area and its surroundings.

Crops coming out of afflicted areas wouldn’t be very appetizing and could cause physical harm if consumed. Furthermore, the farms that supply the United States with fruits, vegetables, and grains would no longer be able to feed the nation at large.

Next: This life nectar may become obsolete. 

8. Water supplies may diminish

Kitchen sink

If North Korea attacks the U.S., water would become scarce. | rkafoto/iStock/Getty Images

Water is a beautiful thing. Besides the water Americans use every day in their homes — around 300 gallons each day — water is critical to keep food growing, as well as keeping businesses and manufacturers moving forward. But don’t forget that water plays a major role in the United States economy. Without access to water, major industries would cease to operate. These industries include mining, agriculture, and the manufacturing of goods, as well as electricity. Without water, life and most businesses would cease to exist.

Next: The economy could tank if the U.S. lost this.

9. Exports could be lost

Merchant container ship

The U.S. exports trillions of dollars worth of goods. | ilfede/iStock/Getty Images

In 2016, the United States exported $2.2 trillion in goods and services. Goods made up two-thirds of that number, while services made up the rest. These figures make the U.S. the third-largest exporter, behind China and the European Union. Removing this sector of trade would demolish the United States economy. But equally important, the global economy would feel the ripple effect very quickly.

Next: The ripple effect would certainly impact these resources as well.

10. Imports are critical

Shipping containers and cranes which move them at the Port of Rotterdam

We also receive trillions. | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

On the other hand, the United States imports even more than it exports. In 2016, the U.S. imported $2.7 trillion in goods and services, making it the world’s second-largest importer behind the European Union. Relying on imports would be critical for the United States to regain footing for survival, but money is required in the business of importing. No money equals no imports. Another major ripple in the flow of the global economy.

Next: How would the globe respond? 

11. The global economy will feel major impacts

England. Markets stabilised over the weekend following global turbulence amid fears over the Ebola virus and global economic concerns

A conflict between the two countries could be catastrophic. | Carl Court/Getty Images

In the event of a conflict between North Korea and the United States, the economy on a global level would sustain a substantial blow. Inevitably, the geopolitical climate becomes heated and tensions rise during and after a conflict. Assumptions have been made in regards to how the political climate between the United States and China could unfold in the event of a North Korean – U.S. war. For instance, a decline in the consumer marketplace could occur in China based on overall customer confidence. That weaker demand could then result in declines in asset prices.

Next: Horse and buggies, bonnets, and the like 

12. Would the U.S. revert back to an era of horse and buggy?

A mail coach and passengers

It would be a real throwback. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Determining what sort of conflict erupts between North Korea and the United States will greatly impact the recovery time on both sides. A hydrogen bomb dropped on U.S. turf would certainly set back the impacted area for many, many years. An EMP attack would set back the U.S. as the economic superpower. Would the U.S. revert back to the 19th-century era of horse and buggy? That’s unlikely.

Next: Is it possible to bounce back? 

13. How long could it take to pick up the pieces from a nuclear attack?

To large missile launch vehicles are paraded down the street in PyongYang

Rebuilding would be next to impossible. | Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

A variety of scenarios could be painted, and each depends on the nature of the attack. If North Korea drops hydrogen bombs on the United States, it would shake the nation to its very core. The likelihood of any city being rebuilt to its original state would be extremely slim. Consider some of the major cities in the United States. It’s taken hundreds of years to achieve such levels of growth and sophistication. Rebounding from a horrific attack such as a hydrogen bomb would leave wreckage from which cities may not be able to bounce back.

Next: National preparations ensue

14. What is the United States doing to prepare?

Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons signed

The United Nations has already attempted to prohibit nuclear weapons entirely. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

As Kim Jon Un and President Trump spar back and forth with threats of nuclear war, California is becoming proactive in creating a game plan for the worst-case scenario. Back in August 2017, a 16-page “Nuclear Attack Response Considerations” bulletin began circulating within the state. The premise of the report outlined the known facts associated with nuclear attacks and the best way to react.

When it comes to the United States as a whole, there is the discussion of denuclearization. But the question at hand is this: Why should North Korea not be allowed to have nuclear warheads when other countries (like the U.S.) do?

Next: Are you the next tin foil hat wearing prepper? 

15. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself

First Aid Kit

Keep an emergency kit and plan. | jovanjaric/iStock/Getty Images

Short of building an underground bunker and walking around wearing a tin hat, what can you do to protect yourself from a nuclear attack? Firstly, become knowledgeable about what unfolds after an attack. Inevitably, there is a bit of a “prepper” mindset that comes into play when you start tossing around ideas related to surviving a nuclear attack. Having an emergency supply kit and plan, and familiarize yourself with shelters in your area. Furthermore, stock up on supplies and hope for the best.

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