News roundup for Fri, Apr 15, 2022

Economy and supply chain

Inflation hit its highest level in 40 years. The S&P 500 will drop 11% by the end of 2022 due to inflation shock. A lot of previous recessions have been preceded by inflation spikes, like in the late ’60s, early ’70s, and 2008.

OPEC cut its forecast for world oil demand by 480,000 bpd, blaming the invasion of Ukraine, rising crude prices, and the resurgence of the Omicron coronavirus in China.

Biden will let more ethanol into gas this summer, in an attempt to lower prices. Here’s how much gas has cost since 1978:

The European Parliament called for an immediate and total embargo of Russian oil, coal, nuclear fuel, and gas. Economists say that Russain’s war in Ukraine means Europe’s economy won’t get back to normal.

Inflation in the UK reached 6.2% and is expected to rise further. The public sector’s wages rose, but price rises outpaced them. That meant a 3% drop in spending power, the biggest in 20 years.

Sri Lanka is about to go bankrupt, and the government is turning to India and China for help with fuel and food shortages.

Fertilizer prices have increased by 43% and many look to liquid animal manure as a substitute. Poop and ash may eventually make up for fertilizer shortages.

Manufacturers, retailers, and seafood distributors have increasingly been using air cargo planes to get stuff delivered faster. Demand has grown so fast that airlines, ocean shipping companies, and aircraft manufacturers have begun to invest heavily in new air cargo planes or in converting existing passenger planes to carry only cargo.

Truckers are blocking the border with Mexico over inspections ordered by the Texas governor. Protestors are threatening supply chain delays and even produce delivered in unrefrigerated trucks.

Climate change, ecology, and extreme weather

The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual and emergency management specialists are urging people to start preparing now. Here’s our guide on how to prepare for and survive hurricanes.

Extremely active Atlantic hurricane seasons are now twice as likely as in the ’80s. Even though the number of hurricanes may not go up drastically due to climate change, the storms themselves have been getting stronger and more destructive (i.e. 11% more rainfall over three-hour periods).

Record snow, tornadoes, and wildfires have hit the US just recently. The Indian Ocean has been inundated with deadly tropical storms, coming at such a fast pace that millions of people repeatedly faced deadly threats in just six weeks. Durban, SA has been battered by three cyclones and two tropical storms since the beginning of the year, causing almost 260 deaths.

Climate scientists say 380 million people will face ‘water stress’ by 2050. Increases will be concentrated in the Middle East, North Africa, and south and central Asia.

Climate change is also threatening septic tanks. About 20% percent of US households rely on septic, and many systems are in coastal areas that are experiencing a sea-level rise. The results: backed-up pipes and stinky yards.

Not everyone believes in climate change, even in the face of it:

Bringing back California’s floodplains is rejuvenating the native fish population, which was dying off because of extensive farming and drought.


Wind power produced more electricity than coal and nuclear sources for the first time ever in the US.

Bidirectional charging could turn an electric vehicle battery into a miniature power plant for your home. GM and Honda will develop an affordable, sub-$30,000 EV by 2027. Quantum Motors is bringing tiny EVs to Latin America, tapping into Bolivia’s massive lithium deposits.

A solution to the drought in the West could be mini desalination plants that run on solar power.

Why you should start a community microgrid:

  • They can protect communities from blackouts when the central power grid goes down.
  • Renewable energy has gotten cheaper, so a microgrid is more affordable than ever.
  • Many states offer rebates that can cut installation costs in half.

Here are some community microgrid configurations, and here are instructions on how to build a private microgrid for less than $1,000.

What is a microgrid
via Microgrid Knowledge

Europe and the US are developing kite power. Kite wind farms could be built on land that isn’t windy enough for conventional turbines. But airborne wind energy still has lots of technical and commercial hurdles to overcome.

Stanford University’s engineers have developed a solar cell that can generate power at night.

Google plans to use 100% carbon-free energy in its data centers by 2030.


There are now over half a billion Covid cases in the world. According to WHO, the virus’ acute phase will be over by 2022 if 70% of the world gets vaccinated. So far, 65% of the world’s population has had at least one dose. As many as 200,000 US children have lost a parent to Covid.

The CDC extends travel mask requirements for public transit and air travel until May 3.

Fauci says individuals need to assess their own risk amidst an uptick in new cases:

Covid resources:

The rest

Russia threatens new nuclear deployments if Sweden and Finland join NATO.

The EU is building the biggest facial recognition system on the planet.

More in the news about the recent increase in interest in bunkers.

Opinion: Collapse won’t reset society.


    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Store some long-term pantry staples. With inflation going up, consider having some extra food as an investment: you need to eat, and its value may continue rising. So long as you store what you eat, and eat what you store, paying current prices to have some extra supplies on hand makes sound financial sense.
      • Drive less, or group your errands.
      • Consider a solar panel charger for your electronics. You can charge using the sun’s energy.
      • Review lessons from winter storms, so you can get ready for next time
      • Start a garden, if you have not done so already.
      • Compost, and use waste you would normally throw out as a valuable source of fertilizer.
      • Consider a rain barrel project to supplement your water
      • Make friends with your neighbours. If you plan to build a microgrid, share a community garden, or just have friendly people nearby in case you need them, building strong relationships is never a bad use of time.
      • Get some exercise.
      • Relax. Read a book.

      Have a restful weekend.

      15 |
      • Karl Winterling brownfox-ff

        A solar charger is great because you can use it to charge devices like an e-ink reader.

        8 |
      • TraceContributor brownfox-ff

        Long term staples! Buy one 25lb bag of beans, or rice, or oatmeal, or wheat, or flour when you shop. Over the years that’s what we’ve done. You can either cycle them into what you normally eat, or seal them up in Mylar inside 5 gallon buckets. Just one a month, but they’ll add up quickly. And once you have them they’ll last forever and they’ll be a nutritious source of food that’s easy to add to (just a little meat and spices can make the difference in your rice and beans). They’re also an easy thing to share with additional “house guests” or neighbors instead of your “good preps” (lol). 

        Make friends with neighbors!! It doesn’t matter if you have a prepper group or whatever. When the disaster hits frequently the only ones nearby are the neighbors you see everyday. The more prepared your neighbors are, the bigger buffer you have in an emergency. 

        11 |
    • Gideon ParkerStaff

      That microgrid reminds me of the power station in an ammo can I built, but at a slightly larger size. Same principles, but more capability.

      That is one of the reasons I wanted to do that project, to learn how to hook everything up, build my confidence, and know how to scale up the size in the future.

      11 |
      • brownfox-ffContributor Gideon Parker

        Extremely cool project, Gideon.

        What types of devices do you power with your ammo can station?
        Did you start with the devices you wanted to power, and work backwards to see what batteries and ports you would need? Or did you simply try to fit as many batteries inside the container as possible, and then set up ports and plugs you felt would be useful?

        Do you need to keep charging it regularly?

        9 |
      • Gideon ParkerStaff brownfox-ff

        Thanks! It was a cool project 🙂

        I fit as many batteries in there as I could and actually harvested two of the batteries from an old electric scooter. The nice thing about this project is that I could take any number of batteries from cars that I found abandoned on the highway (maybe I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead…) and connect them for more capacity.

        I could fit 396 watt hours of battery capacity in this ammo can. They are lead acid batteries and you never want to deplete those past the half way point so there actually is 198 watt hours.

        If I connected it to a 500 watt power inverter and ran a 400 watt load on it, the entire system would be depleted in 30 minutes. Not very practical. So I ended up with a 200 watt inverter that could be easily stored in with the ammo can and give up to an hour of power to a 200 watt device.

        What I most likely am going to use this for is to keep a laptop charged. My laptop uses 45 watts of power and so this system could run it for about four and a half hours. Attached to a 50 watt solar panel and it could be ran indefinitely during the day.

        I’ve let the unit just sit in my garage for a couple weeks and I flicked it on and still had a full charge.

        The other day when I was working on this forum post about making waterproof containers, I needed to use a hot glue gun in the garage. I couldn’t find a free outlet and looked up and saw this power station. It worked flawlessly and was cool to have it right there when I needed it. 

        8 |
      • brekke Gideon Parker

        That Microgrid article was very interesting. I’ll check out your grid in a can post too. What would it take to scale up either project to run a refrigerator or freezer? What about a UPS backup system. I have one from Costco that powers our modem, my work computer and accessories and internet phone, I think it lasts a few hours, but I’m curious if I could use a solar panel to run/recharge it?

        9 |
      • Gideon ParkerStaff brekke

        If I wanted the cheapest and smallest microgrid to power a fridge during a power outage then I would run it until it reaches the optimal temperature and then unplug it for an hour, let the solar panels charge up the batteries again and then plug it back in until it reaches temperature and the repeat. By doing this you aren’t running it constantly and food shouldn’t drop into unsafe temperatures.

        A fridge has a running wattage (just normal operating wattage) and a surge wattage (a high spike of power needed to kick on the unit and run the compressor). Lets say your fridge has a running wattage of 400 watts and a surge of 610 (check your fridge for exact numbers). You will need at least a 700w inverter to handle that surge wattage but will need to calculate solar generation and battery capacity off of that running 400w.

        Let’s say you run it for 30 minutes on and 1 hour off. In 24 hours that will be 8 hours of rest and 4 hours of running it at 400w. You will need to be able to generate 1600Whs of power throughout the daylight and have the batteries charged enough to keep it running throughout the night. And that is only using it sporadically and having to tend it all the time. For normal usage much more energy is needed.

        A gas powered generator is the ideal tool for running large appliances like a fridge, freezer, or heater. In my opinion, small microgrids are best for a tv, laptop, lights, and for charging phones. 

        Here are some refrigerator energy saving tips to make your microgrid last longer:

        • Take out the internal light bulb
        • Every three to six months pull the refrigerator away from the wall and dust the coils on the back of the fridge. Use a long and thin duster to clean underneath as well. When a fridge breathes easier and doesn’t get as hot, it uses less energy.
        • Buy a fridge thermometer and set your fridge to 37 degrees and freezer to 0. This is the optimal temperature and any colder is just wasting energy. 
        • The rubber gaskets around the fridge door wear out in time and may need replacing.
        • Cool your hot leftovers on the counter before putting them in the fridge. 
        • The best place to put a refrigerator is in the kitchen’s coolest corner, away from the oven or big, sunny windows.
        • In the winter consider moving frozen food out onto the patio and turn the freezer off. Why pay to freeze your food when Mother Nature will do it for free? Beware of animals looking for a snack though. 

        As for your UPS, you could potentially use that as the battery supply for your microgrid. What you could do is get a 100W solar panel that has a cigarette lighter end/adapter and then plug an inverter into that, and then your UPS into that inverter. That will only give you power throughout the day though and you may want to build or buy a power station like I made to have some extra battery storage to power it at night.

        9 |
      • brekke Gideon Parker

        Thank you!! That is all very helpful. We do have a dual-fuel generator and a small Jackery, so I think we’re good there. Definitely want to get some more solar panels for the Jackery and maybe try to make a microgird as another device option. Will stick to alternately running the generator for the big appliances. 

        8 |
    • Karl Winterling

      A lot of preppers are focused on stuff like community gardens, sustainable agriculture, and helping people become more self-sufficient during a crisis. The interest is more in helping communities and people become more resilient rather than forecasting some end-of-the-world scenario.

      The “doomers” are often people who are not actually prepping and support ideologies like anti-natalism (feeling a need to convince other people to not have kids, not just making a personal decision to not have kids). There’s more of an illusion among “doomers” that a crisis would make life better: you won’t have to pay loans or taxes, there would be a “reset” of who has wealth, society would become more democratic, government would become more limited or decentralized, cryptocurrency can replace state currency, etc. I think reality is closer to something like you end up with free markets and limited government when everything is going really well and you don’t need a central authority to decide what’s essential for society to continue.

      I remember reading about how barter systems never really existed. Instead, societies used commodity money. You would trade your stuff for something like wheat and then trade the wheat for what you needed.

      9 |
      • Bed Karl Winterling

        Your description of “doomers” is extremely accurate! That’s the kind of thinking in the comment sections of YouTube channels that cover space weather. Even though it’s just text on a screen, it ain’t a pretty sight.
        But, yeah, I doubt they’re into actual preparedness.

        A system built around commodity money definitely sounds like something more in-line with how societies used to work. Tobacco was (and still is) an example of that, I think.

        9 |
    • Karl Winterling

      Filing taxes on April 18 is your last chance to claim $1,400 direct checks if you haven’t received one already or you became eligible during 2021 after checks went out. I think (I’m not an expert on taxes or the COVID relief bill) you can get an additional $1,400 per dependent of any age if your household added dependents in 2021, assuming that person has not received a check.

      8 |
    • Eric

      Mysterious hepatitis cases in a bunch of kids who tested negative for all the viruses that typically cause hepatitis. The WHO is still investigating.—the-united-kingdom-of-great-britain-and-northern-ireland

      8 |
    • Robert Vanderford

      I really appreciate the information you share. It really provides a better understanding of what’s going on.

      7 |