News roundup for Fri, Aug 19, 2022

In short:
  • Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico are facing historic emergency water cuts.
  • Drought is forcing British animal farmers to dip into their winter forage reserves.
  • Scientists found a simple way to break down PFAS and make unlimited water safe.
Economy, food security, supply chain

UK’s inflation reached 10.1% in July, pushed higher by food and energy costs. The government is planning a £400 energy bill discount. Citi warns that inflation could hit 15% in early 2023 unless there are government measures to lower prices. Here’s a UK inflation calculator you can use to see how your personal inflation rate compares to the national average.

Heat and drought have negatively impacted EU grain production

… and is driving the prices of meat, milk, and cheese even higher. British cattle and sheep farmers are digging into their winter forage reserves as the heat is drying up grazing land. Meat prices rose12% since last year—the biggest jump ever:

Via Bloomberg.

The first cargo ship carrying humanitarian food aid bound for Africa has left Ukraine. Ukraine will be able to export three million tons of grain in September and, eventually, four million tons a month. Thirty ships have applied to export grain in the next two weeks. Ukraine’s grain exports are down 46%.

Drought devastated the US cotton harvest. More than 40% of the cotton acres sown in the spring have been abandoned, and the amount harvested is the smallest since the 1800s. The USDA cut its estimate for the domestic cotton crop by almost 30% compared to last year’s production and predicted some of the lowest end-of-season inventories in decades.

China’s worst heatwave is forcing factories to shut down and subway stations to dim their lights to save power and prevent blackouts. The Chinese economy is not doing well, and people are refusing to repay loans on unfinished properties. China’s real estate market collapse could worsen the global economic slowdown.

Meta: People are starting to recognize that extreme weather caused by climate change is a hidden driver of inflation.

A new electric car Battery Belt is reshaping America’s heartland (the link has the interactive version of the map below):

Via Axios.
Climate change, environment, extreme weather

Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico are facing historic emergency water cuts. The seven states that rely on Colorado River water were supposed to develop plans to reduce water use, but those talks have become bitter. Federal officials have declared a Tier 2 shortage for next year. Under Tier 2 shortage conditions, Arizona’s annual water allocation will be reduced by 21%, Nevada’s by 8%, and Mexico’s by 7%. The Interior Department said water use must be reduced “In order to avoid a catastrophic collapse of the Colorado River System and a future of uncertainty and conflict.”

Via CNN (click to link).

The Colorado River drought is so bad that you can see it from space:

Lake Mead
Lake Powell
Shasta Lake.
Lake Oroville. Via Vox.

Thames Water announced a hosepipe ban across the south of England, which will come into effect on August 24. Watering gardens and cleaning cars with a hosepipe will no longer be allowed, except for businesses and farmers.

China is seeding clouds to try and replenish its shrinking Yangtze River.

Scientists have discovered a simple way to break down PFAS at relatively low temperatures without producing harmful byproducts. Because of the simple technology, there are no limits to how much water can be processed. The technology could eventually make PFAS removal easier for water treatment plants.


Bavarian Nordic, the only company with an approved monkeypox vaccine (Jynneos), said it’s no longer sure it can meet demand. The company might consider outsourcing some production, including a technology transfer to a US contract manufacturer. The UK is experiencing a temporary vaccine shortage pending delivery of further doses in late September. Africa might be getting its first vaccines soon. The US has the highest number of cases globally and has received about 88% of doses since May. More doses will be distributed soon:

Via Bloomberg.

There is evidence of breakthrough infections among people vaccinated after exposure to the virus. It is unclear how this happens, but people getting the vaccine should know that Jynneos is most protective two weeks after a second dose.

Scientists reported the first case of human-to-dog transmission of monkeypox. The dog caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus. Per the CDC’s monkeypox guidance on pets: isolate an infected pet and do not leave their poop outdoors as the virus could spill into the wild animal population. If that happened, monkeypox could become endemic (as it is in Africa now).

And a monkeypox case was reported in a man whose ‘primary risk factor’ was close, nonsexual contact at a crowded outdoor event.

The monkeypox outbreaks in the UK, Germany, parts of Canada, and New York City seem to be peaking. Though these outbreaks aren’t over, they could be a sign that they are getting under control in certain places.

There are currently more than 14,000 cases in the US and over 40,000 globally.

The rest

The CDC is investigating a “fast-moving” E. coli outbreak in Michigan and Ohio:

CDC officials say the agency will undergo a major reorganization to emphasize public health preparedness and response. The announcement came as a result of a report from an external group that criticized the agency’s early response to the pandemic.

A Turkish surge in exports to Russia raises fears of closer ties. And China said it would send its troops to Russia for joint military drills.

Ocean Builders has just unveiled a fleet of “eco-restorative” floating pods. Three models are available: the flagship SeaPod, the EcoPod (an ecologically and economically friendly option), and the GreenPod, designed for land use. They are designed to operate off-grid and could be serviced by drones. A total of 100 pods will be ready off the coast of Panama by the end of 2023, with an additional 1,000 by 2024:

EcoPod. Via CNN.

This is not a recent story, but the rescue video has been recently circulating on social media. Incredible survival story (here’s the write-up):

An Indonesian teenager survived 49 days adrift at sea after his wooden fish trap slipped its moorings. He survived on fish and seawater he squeezed from his clothing before being rescued by a passing cargo ship.
byu/PEDERAHMET inDamnthatsinteresting


    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep building your pantry, if able. Buy foods that you would normally eat anyway. This may also help to save some money if prices rise.
      • Consider eating less meat. Could you cut meat from one meal per week? This may save you money over time.
      • Learn a new recipe to enjoy the foods you already have.
      • Learn how to make sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented foods. Fermenting can be a simple, easy way to preserve food to prevent spoilage. In some cases, all you need is a jar and salt.
      • Practice or learn how to sew. Being able to repair your own clothing may help them last longer, and save you money by avoiding needing to buy new. Forum thread on sewing
      • Learn how to survive extreme heat. Slow down, find or create shade, stay hydrated.
      • Consider a solar charger to keep your phone or electronics charged.
      • Practice going without power. Can you spend a day with no electricity? Do you have alternate ways to cook food? Stable foods you can eat without cooking? This may be good practice, and help you spot areas you need to improve.
      • Store some water in your home.
      • Get a quality, re-usable water bottle or canteen
      • (pardon the self-plug) Consider a rain barrel water collector. If you have access to a roof, capture the free, falling resource that you already have.
      • Wear a well-fitting, quality mask when you are around large groups of people, or in a high-risk area
      • To prevent e-coli: Wash your hands before preparing or eating food, after handling animals, after using the bathroom. Cook meats thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C), or 160°F (70˚C) for pork and ground beef. More via the CDC
      • Make a list of items that need regular maintenance. Do you have a car, furnace, hot water heater, generator, or other equipment that needs regular maintenance? Set up a schedule to stay on top of it and keep everything working. This may save you from an expensive breakdown or replacement.
      • Make a list of everything that has gone well this week. Practicing gratitude helps train our brains to see the positive, and is good for morale.
      • Get some exercise
      • Read a book

      Have a productive weekend.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Water-saving tips that do not require changing your habits:

      1. Install low-flow faucet aerators on your sinks and taps (0.5 GPM)
      2. Install low-flow showerheads (1.8 GPM or less)
      3. Replace old toilets with low-flow or dual-flush toilets (1.6 gallons per flush, or even 1.0 to 0.8 gallons)
      4. Find and fix leaks. Check old pipes and connections, use food coloring in toilet tanks to spot leaky toilets.
      5. Instead of growing a grass lawn, find local plants that are more hardy to drought and plant them instead – e.g. microclover, vetch, or creeping thyme.
      6. Add mulch in your garden. In “The Drought-Resilient Farm”, Strickler says “Perhaps no other practice improves water movement into the soil surface more effectively than creating and maintaining a mulch layer”.

      Water-saving tips that require changing your habits:

      1. Take shorter showers
      2. Shower less often
      3. Instead of running the water, shower using a cloth and water from a bucket
      4. If you normally wait for the water to warm up, capture the initial shower water in a bucket for use in watering plants, cooking, cleaning, etc.
      5. Avoid running the tap when brushing your teeth, or any other time.
      6. Measure out the water you use to cook food, to use only the correct amount.
      7. Consider using compostable or disposable plates and cutlery.
      8. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge, so you aren’t letting water run, waiting for it to get cold.
      9. Water plants deeply and less often rather than frequently and shallow – this trains the plant roots to grow deeper to seek moisture, making them more resilient.

      Edit: What else do you do to conserve water?

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      • CR brownfox-ff

        On item 7 using disposable dishes, etc., increases waste and surely water is used in their manufacture? Our family has turned to the habit of just reusing cups & dishes that are only lightly soiled (with non-spoiling foods or drinks such as sandwiches, chips, cookies, teas, black coffee…) you’d be surprised at how much it reduces dishwashing without harming health. Obviously we only reuse our own, not another family member’s. 

        Also, many items of clothing (not underwear or socks!) can go a bit longer than expected without washing. Just be aware some people have a more sensitive nose than others, so be cautious of your limits in determining that threshold. 🤭

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      • Eric CR

        “Also, many items of clothing (not underwear or socks!) can go a bit longer than expected without washing.”

        This depends heavily on whether you’ve been sweating. Anyone who lives in a hot area like Florida, don’t even think about wearing that shirt a second day.

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      • CR Eric

        Fair point Eric! But Florida and many other humid climates aren’t as likely to have drought/water scarcity problems, right? And I did clarify using caution regarding odors, for example the laundry needs of an office worker would be different from a construction or health worker. My suggestion could be expanded to include towels, bedding, etc., but a humid climate would shorten use times before washing, as moisture favors bacteria & odors. The main point is, if you’re in a water scarce area (which I am), evaluate the actual necessity of some everyday hygiene uses. 

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      • Eric CR

        I can’t speak for other hot/humid places. Florida doesn’t have droughts. Other hot places like New Mexico are in permanent drought and probably share Florida’s issues with sweating.

        Good idea for saving water – I’m just pointing out something to be careful of.

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff CR

        Using disposable plates, cups, and silverware in the long run is definitely not sustainable, but a great prep for when you’re without water or need to conserve it. I always keep some in my pantry. Case in point, I just spent three weeks off grid with no running water (it literally needed to be brought in in containers, by car—a temporary measure until they drill a well). Needless to say, we only used disposable plates, never cooked anything that needed pots and pans washing, always used the tiniest trickle of water to wash our hands, took a shower every two or three days (and also used the tiniest trickle of water possible + turned off the water when lathering), and used a lot of wet wipes. Laundry was done off-site at a coin laundry place but we had to reuse many clothing items because, again, we would go only once in a while. I’m glad that I work remotely because I would have not been able to sit in an office with other people with how much I constantly smelled 😅

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      • CR Carlotta Susanna

        That’s an excellent example of temporary use! I have disposables for when the well acts up or we go tent camping too, but wouldn’t use long term. Unscented wipes are an awesome prep for both scenarios as well. 

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      • brownfox-ffContributor CR

        Hey CR – good catch about disposable plates. I agree having disposable items available for short-term use is best. I would not use them for regular, long term use as that generates a lot of waste. Otherwise – good tips. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Momof6

      Great round up as always! And glad to see Brown Fox! 👋

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