News roundup for Tue, Apr 12, 2022

Editor’s note: updated to include extra links to the “climate-resilient places” section. See more links and great discussions in the comments.

War in Ukraine

Russia allegedly used chemical weapons against Ukrainian troops. Ukraine is now investigating 4,500 alleged war crimes:

According to Poland’s prime minister Europe could soon see its biggest tank battle since World War II.

Sweden and Finland are considering joining NATO.

Live updates and conflict map.

Economy and supply chain

Global food prices are the highest they have been since 1990. The war primarily increased prices of wheat, maize, and vegetable oils:

The US economy could lose $2 trillion a year if climate change is ignored. Hurricane damage is the biggest driver of these high losses. This is the first time in history that climate change is accounted for in the Federal Budget. The Office of Management and Budget has been directed by the Biden administration to calculate and release these estimates annually.

The World Bank has forecast that the war will slash Ukraine’s GDP output by over 45%. The closure of Black Sea shipping from Ukraine has cut off 90% of the country’s exports. The country started exporting grain to Europe by train but those exports seem to have hit logistical and red tape issues. The Director of Land Transport at the European Commission called for a strengthening of train links to Ukraine in order to keep export capabilities open during the war.

Argentina, Brazil, and India are expected to raise their production and exports levels of wheat.

US wheat supplies will be bigger than expected, while domestic corn supplies are to remain unchanged.

There’s a baby formula shortage in the US.

Vertical farming is expected to grow to $9.7 billion worldwide by 2026, from $3.1 billion in 2021. The fall in LED light prices in 2015 made the technology more cost-effective, although it still faces the pains of a growing industry. Some of the pros and cons of vertical farming: it is not dependent on soil or drought conditions, can produce food year-round, and reduce water consumption for food production and recycling. On the other hand, it has high startup costs, and it needs access to infrastructures such as highways and specialized workers.

The Volkswagen Group expects the chip shortage to last until 2024.

The lithium supply chain issues, according to Elon Musk:

Climate and climate-resilient places

One-third of Americans faced extreme weather in recent years. Hurricanes and winter weather were the most common events cited.

Unsurprisingly, people are relocating within the US in order to find more climate-resilient places to live. The whole West Coast seems to be out of the question, while New England or the Upper Midwest could gain popularity.

The Oregon State Treasury is relocating into a super building meant to withstand every kind of disaster imaginable.

Here is a collection of interactive maps and articles that could be helpful when deciding where to live:

In other news, climate change could make rapid wildfire blowups more frequent.

Methane levels are the highest since the 80s:

The US, UK, Germany, Japan, Italy, Ukraine, France, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Mexico, Finland, Singapore, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Poland, Romania, and Sweden have all sustained emissions reductions for at least a decade while their economies continued to grow.

Climate change is causing bears to end their hibernation earlier. Early warm spells might cause bears to emerge earlier, at a time when they don’t have yet enough food sources and might get into trouble with humans earlier too. But their schedule should adapt to changing climate patterns in time.

The rest

Biden announced a new rule aimed at regulating ghost guns. Under the new rule, ghost guns manufacturers will need to include serial numbers, run background checks, and keep records of purchases.

Capitol Hill is on rabies watch after a rabies-positive fox bit nine people. A few key info:

  • In the US the majority of human rabies cases are from bats. Outside of the US or most of Europe, dogs are the main source of human rabies deaths.
  • Treat a bite or scratch like any other open wound: the WHO especially recommends washing the wound immediately with clean water and soap for at least 15 min. Seek medical help asap as immunization should be administered within 24 hours of exposure.
  • The majority of deaths are caused by not seeking timely treatment, often because the wound or scratch is not perceived as threatening.
  • Common symptoms in humans start like the flu (sneezing, coughing, weakness, etc) as well as possible soreness or itching around the wound. After some days these symptoms worsen into various cerebral dysfunctions, and ultimately, death. Once symptoms appear it is usually too late for treatment.
  • Infected animals might display various symptoms, from mild illness to behaving aggressively, overly friendly, or just weirdly:

Covid resources:

A useful discussion on how to interpret low community levels:


    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Good luck this week

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      (I swear I don’t know that rabid fox and had nothing to do with them)

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    • Bill Masen

      The Lithium price issue could easily kill off the electric car market, its cost for making batteries plus the massive costs in recycling the batteries is making people look at hydrogen fuel cells again.

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      • Bill Masen Bill Masen

        As for Global temp / C02 / Methane issues, I think this extended time period bar chart is informative.


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      • Bill Masen Bill Masen

        No Rabies in the UK thank heavens.

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      • Haus Monkey Bill Masen

        Yeah, thats why we vaccinate dogs and thats why rabies from dogs is mostly an issue in Africa or Asia.

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      • Karl Winterling Bill Masen

        I think the graph is accurate but:

        1. The rate of change since 1800 is more important than actual temperature. We could live with very slow and gradual increases but not faster increases. The axes are not labeled in a way so that you can have a good idea of what the tangent lines would look like at a given point.
        2. Agricultural civilization has only been around for a few thousand years during a period of relative temperature stability.
        3. More people = more dependence on highly complex systems that might not be able to adapt to rapid changes.
        4. Could people adapt/adjust to rapid increases in temperature? We don’t really know.

        I don’t want to spend too much time “debunking” or arguing, but I think a lot of people aren’t well-informed about global warming and it’s gotten too politicized.

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    • Bill Masen

      “Unsurprisingly, people are relocating within the US in order to find more climate-resilient places to live. ”  By pure coincidence I had a lovely Zoom call with my late friends family in Kansas not an hour ago.   They report quite a good number of West coast slickers moving to smaller and cheaper rural communities in OK and KS lately.   Number 1 2 & 3 criteria appear to be Low crime / Sustainability,   Affordability  and Fast Broadband Internet service.

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      • brekke Bill Masen

        I’m in the PNW and we’ve thought a little about relocating, but honestly every location has its pros and cons. Sure we might have wildfires, drought, high crime in Metro areas, cascadia, volcanoes and the occasional wind storm or ice storm, but we don’t have hurricanes or devastating tornadoes. 🤷‍♀️😂 What we do have here is our community, our home, our family and lots of prep/planning for possible emergencies and that lets me sleep at night (mostly). 😊

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      • Bill Masen brekke

        We have winter, which is like summer 🙂  Bit warmer, Bit Colder, windier or less, raining a bit or less.  Get a few storms in the last 15 years though. Last propper winter where I live was in 2010.

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    • Hardened

      Oof, a bumper crop of good news again!

      Thanks for the list of resources for deciding where to live.  On my personal list is a map of air quality in the US.

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    • Hardened

      Cows are responsible for about 40% of global methane emissions.  I’ve stopped eating beef because of this.

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    • Hardened

      Just anecdotally speaking, it’s clear people are misinterpreting the CDC’s new “low” community COVID-19 levels to mean low transmission levels, when in fact it means, if you get infected and need one, a hospital bed will be available.

      Thanks!  I wear a mask all the time regardless but that was my naive interpretation.

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    • Karl Winterling

      Jha said something like “you don’t need to worry” means “a hospital bed or ICU bed will likely be available to you if you need one” and “you likely won’t get severe COVID if you’re vaccinated and boosted.” It doesn’t mean your chances of getting COVID are low.

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    • TraceContributor

      I have to defend my adopted home in the Pacific Northwest (20+ years). We live on rural property south of Tacoma (almost 10 years) and I think you’d be very hard pressed to find a better spot to live as a prepper — we looked, long and hard. There is a reason we chose here. Our close 2nd choice was the Willamette Valley in OR. The article talks about about Ashland, which is so far south in OR it may as well be CA it’s being effected by the same type forest fires as Northern CA — it’s not a good representation of our area.

      Sure the PNW could have a big earthquake, but they’re exceptionally rare or a volcano (yes, but statistically ridiculously low), but otherwise we’re temperate, plenty of water, green, lots of forests and wildlife, good growing season, low (felt) humidity, almost no bug problems. Yes property has become more expensive and politics are more left leaning (specifically gun control), but we believe it’s an exceptional choice on the pros/cons list.

      I’d argue some of the areas they’re discussing as “having from severe climate impacts” have severe weather all by themselves. Winters in the north midwest (a lot of WI, MI, MN) and much of New England are just normally severe and are not ideal areas for gardening, raising animals year round, and other prepper actives (yes there are notable exceptions).

      There’s no perfect place, but I agree there are some places that are worse than others (prepper/climate wise) and should be avoided. 

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      • brekke Trace

        I just posted similar above before reading yours. Love my Willamette Valley! I have been looking into Washington areas if we decide to relocate. Climates in both states are very similar, but for now we have no reason to move. (Unless an affordable multi-family homestead appears like magic, but that is highly unlikely. Lol.)

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      • pnwsarahContributor Trace

        A lot of the recent articles on climate-resilient regions within the U.S. have cited the PNW as well as the Upper Midwest. I’ve actually seen the PNW mentioned more than New England. And that seems right to me! I’d rather take my chances here than in the UM or NE, for the reasons you cite, Trace (the winters, the humidity, hurricanes, tornados— baseline conditions in a lot of the rest of the country really don’t seem too mild or desirable to me). Totally agree about Ashland as a poor comparison, too. It’s so dry— more like Lake County or Redding down in California than where you, me, or brekke are. Fires will get worse further north in OR as climate change worsens, but that doesn’t bother me too much: Some degree of fire exposure is inevitable in the West, but there are better and worse places to be within the greater region and you can mitigate your risk. Not every town is Paradise, CA.

        I do respect the magnitude of the wallop a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake will pack, but if you’re living the homestead life, you’re probably going to ride that out a lot better than those of us in the cities or suburbs, so I can see why it doesn’t register as a big “con”.

        At the end of the day, as you say, there is no perfect place, and one could do a lot worse than the PNW. Plus, you can’t ruin your life in the name of protecting it; I’ve spent my whole life in the West and really have no interest in living anywhere else, even if you could convince me that doing so would be better from a preparedness standpoint. Given that constraint, OR/WA or far northern coastal CA are my picks.

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      • Courtney pnwsarah

        With all this talk about the upper midwest being a desirable/safer place, I just wanted to point out that there is a “red flag warning” (=high wild fire danger) in central Iowa right now.  Ugh.

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      • Barb LeeContributor pnwsarah

        I think a lot of the western wildfire problem is being way oversold as climate change, when it can actually be traced to millions of acres of beetle-killed timber, which is almost certainly a result of forest mismanagement. Driving over the crest of the Cascade Range can be a heartbreaking experience. Mother Nature is cleaning up our trainwreck by burning it down and starting over.  Also, a lot of human property loss is the direct result of more and more people moving into dense forest areas. These are people who expect to be saved by services that don’t exist near them.  Sound familiar? People that live in the middle of a kindling box should probably not be surprised to find themselves in the middle of a wildfire, yet they are.  I think that a lot of natural systems, such as water cycles, were almost irreparably broken 150-200 years ago by the voracious overgrazing  of western rangeland that is so fragile it was never able to recover.  A relative of mine keeps blaming the California drought on government and environmentalists without considering that California is a desert to begin with, that supports a groaning overload of humanity on stolen water.  He has a miniscule understanding of water cycles and blames the “desertification” occurring there on shutting off the water to agriculture and leaving the ground unplowed.  Everybody blames cows for everything, but I believe that returning a few million acres to grassland and managed grazing could go a long way to restoring water cycles and ending droughts.

        But of course everyone’s following the red herring.

        I agree the PNW has its warts, and I honestly think that having a little homestead here is becoming an unattainable dream for many.  We’ve considered moving away from the Willamette Valley many times, and now, in retrospect, we are VERY glad we didn’t cave to that impulse.

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      • pnwsarahContributor Barb Lee

        @Dogpatch – I totally agree that forest management, development in the WUI, and beetle killed trees are a big part of the western wildfire story. There is a column of researchers who argue that climate change is simply reinstating historic fire regimes (so, the effects of climate change are now swamping the effects of fire suppression, bringing us to what was normal pre-Smokey the Bear, albeit by a different mechanism), but that research is controversial; another column of researchers think those folks are measuring the historic baseline incorrectly. Obviously hard to come up with good measures for how often something happened before written records were kept, so those researchers will probably all be arguing about this until the sun engulfs the earth. However, these people pretty much all agree that climate change and forest management are both contributing factors to the devastating fire behavior we’ve seen in the West of late. The bark beetle thing is also climate-linked: Warmer winters mean fewer beetles are killed during the winter months, then more outbreaks. It’s basically like all roads — fire suppression; fights among industry, enviros, and public lands managers; climate change; development in the WUI (which means more ignition sources but also more advocates for fire suppression on adjacent public land)— lead to… fire. More frequent, more intense, less predictable fire.

        Thank you for fighting the good fight to help your friend understand that stopping water deliveries to agriculture in California (which is a relatively recent phenomenon!) doesn’t drive drought. You might mention that a lot of ag land in California has become unfarmable due to salinization caused by irrigated ag… not exactly desertification, but sort of similar. 

        The climate threat posed by cows is real (because methane, which they burp, is such a potent greenhouse gas), but I’ve always felt that grazing can play an important role in Western grasslands, as well as in conservation, food security, and community self-sufficiency. (The ranchers I used to work with in Montana taught me a lot about beetle kill, incidentally— most of them were also, to some degree or another, engaged in forest management.)

        EDIT: Not to say that forest management isn’t a factor in beetle kill, too. You can use forest management to mitigate beetle outbreaks… but warmer winters and drought stress are the big drivers of the problem, as I understand it.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor pnwsarah

        It’s fascinating to hear all of these perspectives on good/bad places to live, and what you have taken into consideration. Thanks for sharing everyone.

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    • Tony B

      That video of the rabid fox spooked me.  Like a clip from a “fast zombie” movie, but scarier.

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      • Eric Tony B

        The scary part is how similar rabies is to the fictional zombie disease. A disease that mixed the symptoms/severity of rabies with the infectiousness of COVID would be horrific.

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    • Eric

      A 3000 acre fire started near San Antonio, Texas, this weekend. I have coworkers in San Antonio that are concerned about Texas having wildfire problems similar to California.

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    • Eric

      UK hospital and ambulance services severely strained due to COVID surge. Patients waiting hours for an ambulance then being admitted to a hallway rather than a room. These articles focus on the hardest-hit areas. It’s not clear to me how widespread the problem is.

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