News roundup for Fri, Jul 22, 2022

In short:
  • Ukraine and Russia sign deal to reopen grain export ports.
  • The EU is asking its members to ration gas ahead of winter.
  • Australian report reveals severe deterioration in biodiversity, habitat loss, and pollution.
Economy, energy, food, supply chain

US sales of previously owned homes in June fell 5.4% from May. Housing is a key driver of economic growth, so there’s an argument that a slowdown in it could trigger a recession.

The US Senate moves ahead with the $52 billion CHIPS Act, which is intended to reduce America’s dependence on Asian semiconductors. The US supposedly manufactures only 12% of the world’s semiconductors, down from 37% in the 90s. An argument against the move is that we have to stop microchip companies from receiving taxpayer money unless they agree to give the government warrants or equity stakes. And some say the government must intervene because of the industry’s importance.

The EU wants its members to voluntarily ration their gas and reduce demand by 15% between August 22 and March 23. The EU’s gas storage is at 64%, and the commission wants to save up for winter in case of a complete cutoff from Russia. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline finally reopened after 10 days of maintenance work but at only 40% pre-maintenance levels. According to the International Monetary Fund, a total Russian embargo would cause a deep recession in Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia. Italy, Germany, and Austria would also be most impacted:


Ukraine, Russia sign deal to reopen grain export ports. Even if a deal is agreed upon now, shipments might not resume for three weeks. Ukraine ultimately ended the 2021/22 harvest season with 6.8 million tonnes of corn, an eight-fold increase, while wheat stocks almost quadrupled to 5.8 million tonnes. Silos are still packed with 1,100 tonnes of grain from last year’s harvest, and millions of tonnes of new harvest are sitting on farms:

Via Bloomberg

Dubai opens the ‘world’s largest vertical farm’. The farm is supposed to use 95% less water than traditional farming and guarantees an output of three tons per day.

Bus drivers are in decline across the US. Many retire or seek higher-paying jobs in the private sector that require less in-person contact (assaults and Covid being the main concerns).

For the first time, wind and solar produce more electricity than nuclear in the US, and 25% of energy came from renewables.

GAF Energy to build second US nailable solar shingle factory to meet growing demand.

A Ukrainian woman invents ‘solar for balconies’ to wean Europe off Russian gas. These vertical panels are specifically designed to be mounted, with weatherproof straps, onto balconies by non-tech-savvy users:

Via TechCrunch/WeDoSolar
Climate change, environment, extreme weather

Biden is considering declaring a climate emergency to unlock federal funds and take action on climate change. Here are five ways the US can still combat climate change without a national emergency declaration.

Australia report reveals a ‘shocking’ decline in the environment. The 2021 State of the Environment Report finds severe deterioration across biodiversity, habitat loss, and pollution. The report found that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent in the world.

The UK reached the hottest temperature ever recorded of 40.2C (104.4F), and the hottest night when temperatures never fell below 25C (77F). At least 13 people have died going into open water throughout the heatwave period. Wildfires broke. London’s Ambulance Service is experiencing a sustained demand for emergency services as they see “an increase in the number of patients experiencing heat exposure”. London is literally on fire because of the heat:

Problem: British homes were built to retain heat.

35,000 people evacuated in France due to wildfires:

A heat warning is in effect in 28 states across the US with central and southern states being the most affected. Here’s how US cities are coping with more deadly heatwaves. Opinion: The fastest growing US cities risk becoming unlivable from the climate crisis.

Interactive: What is the highest temperature ever recorded in your country?

Via Al Jazeera

Heat exhaustion during these temperatures is real: here’s a video of a UPS driver collapsing in extreme heat on someone’s porch:

Here’s how British zookeepers are keeping their animals cool during extreme heatwaves: cool showers, baths, and frozen treats!

And, if you live in NYC, there are maps that show drinking fountains, tree cover, and water features such as spray showers that can help people cool down:

Or you can rent someone else’s swimming pool on Swimply (just stay safe when going into a stranger’s backyard 😉 )

The rest

BA.5 makes up nearly 80% of new Covid cases.

FBI and NSA directors warn of evolving foreign interference threat ahead of US midterms. Iran, Russia, and China are the main suspects, and there is concern about hybrid threats “[including] a situation in which foreign operatives might use an “unremarkable cyber incident” to sow “panic or lack of confidence in our election infrastructure.”

CIA director says Putin is healthy, dismissing illness rumors. However, he notes that the fact that Putin is turning to Iran for drones is a sign that Russia’s defenses are weak.

Opinion: America’s wealth inequality is a domestic IED, ready to ignite.

Here’s a cool article about streaming weather data from Mount Everest. Posting with the excuse of being vaguely related to weather forecasting (which is useful for prepping, etc) 😉

A tourist in Greece survived 18 hours at sea by clinging to a semi-inflated ball. Wilson?!?

Via WION/Instagram


    • Momof6

      Thanks! Enjoyable read today!

      5 |
    • Captain Peanut

      I have some more uplifting solar panel articles that I saw this week.

      Delaware will give free solar panels to low-income residents – Energy costs are a higher percentage of low income family’s income and helping offset that means that they can more quickly save and increase their ability to buy more nutritious food, more reliable car, and more. It probably will make their homes more resilient to outages and reduce demand on the grid.

      Solar panel saves Arkansas school enough for teachers get up to $15K in raises – By installing solar they save $600,000 a year. This leads to better retention, higher morale, and the ability to recruit quality educators in a small town that might not have as many opportunities.

      9 |
    • CR

      Fun suggestion about Swimply! Hadn’t heard about that. Maybe a retirement income stream, but it could be a bad thing for op-sec, right? Always a downside…

      4 |
    • ReadyPlayer

      Wilson 🤣

      3 |