News roundup for Tue, Aug 23, 2022

In short:
  • EIU says energy shortages and inflation will cause a recession in Europe in 2022-23.
  • China’s shutdowns could disrupt the supply chain as much as Covid lockdowns.
  • Omicron-specific boosters should be available in the US within three weeks.
Economy, supply chain, food security

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NABE) says 72% of economists expect a US recession by the middle of next year. 73% of respondents said they are not at all or not very confident the Fed can get inflation back to its 2% goal without triggering a recession. The economists surveyed were generally in favor of the Inflation Reduction Act.

More about the Inflation Reduction Act: Will the Inflation Reduction Act actually reduce inflation? Nine ways the Inflation Reduction Act affects Medicare coverage. How the Inflation Reduction Act Affects Food and Agriculture.

Citi updated its UK inflation forecast to cross 18% in January. This assumes a £300 policy offset on household energy bills between October and 2024. Citi expects an energy cap increase of up to £3,717 per year ($4,389), then a further increase to £4,567 in January, and then £5,816 in April from the current £1,971 for an average household. The price cap limits the amount a supplier can charge for.

The International Monetary Fund downgraded the growth forecasts for Germany, France, Italy, and Spain for 2023. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says that energy shortages and sustained inflation will lead to a recession in Europe in the winter of 2022-23. Winter 2023-24 will also be tough, with high inflation and sluggish growth.

China declared its first drought emergency this year as heatwaves have disrupted crop growth, threatened livestock, and forced some industries to shut down. Shutdowns like these could impact supply chains just as much as recent Covid lockdowns did.

Report: Raising a child in the US through high school can cost $300,000. According to the Brookings Institution, a middle-income, two-parent married family with two children would spend north of $310,000 raising a child up to 17 years. This estimate assumes higher inflation, like 1980-97, but doesn’t include college education or private education costs.



Here are five drought-tolerant plants that could help feed the world as the planet warms:

  • Amaranth
  • Fonio
  • Cowpeas
  • Taro
  • Kernza

Amaranth is the #1 survival crop, according to community member Redneck. Check out his intro post about growing amaranth.

Climate change, environment, extreme weather

Heavy rain caused severe floods in Dallas. Parts of Dallas got an entire summer’s worth of rain in just 24 hours:

As discussed in the Aug 02 roundup, you should never attempt to drive or walk through flood waters. But here’s another reason why it is best to avoid flooded areas 😱

Strong winds have caused a wildfire in Valencia, Spain, to get worse. The fire has so far scorched more than 47,000 acres along an 85-mile perimeter. Portugal, also experiencing a drought, is on alert for three days starting Sunday.

According to Global Forest Watch, forest fires are burning twice as many trees as they did 20 years ago. Russia and Canada experienced the biggest losses in forest canopy between 2001-2019. The US ranked third globally, with over 25% of forests lost to fire alone. And in Alaska, global warming causes fires to burn more wild land. Lightning storms, drought, and thawing tundra are making fires more destructive.

The River Oder mass fish die-off can’t be attributed to one cause. It could have been caused by a cocktail of organic and inorganic substances, algae bloom, and an industrial discharge. Germany is still investigating.

Many are still seeking shelter and food one year after the Haiti earthquake. Over 130,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, killing more than 2,200 people. Over 250,000 children still lack access to adequate schools, according to UNICEF. Reconstruction has been delayed due to a lack of funds and a spike in violence.

NYC denied every property damage claim from Hurricane Ida, citing a 1907 rule stating that municipalities across the state of New York, including the City of New York, are not liable for damage from ‘extraordinary and excessive rainfalls.’

Study: Already shrunk by half, Swiss glaciers are melting faster. Since the 30s, Switzerland’s 1,400 glaciers have lost more than half their volume. This could have broad implications for Switzerland’s long-term energy sources since hydropower produces nearly 60% of the country’s electricity.

Tel Aviv uses innovative lightweight fabric structures to provide shade during the day and solar-powered lighting by night:


Boosters specific to Omicron should be available in the US within three weeks:

  • The Pfizer shot should be approved first and available to everyone 12 and up who has completed their primary vaccination series.
  • Moderna’s shot will likely be available in October to vaccinated people 18 years and older.
  • Younger pediatric age groups may become eligible later for both shots.

The US National Institutes of Health hopes to launch its first big clinical trial of potential treatments for long Covid in October.

A CDC study examines monkeypox’s ability to stick to surfaces in the home. They found that 70% of the surfaces sampled tested positive, but the virus was inactive, suggesting that the virus decays over time or as a result of cleaning and disinfection. In Germany, a similar study found high viral concentrations of monkeypox on surfaces but no evidence of secondary transmission. According to the FDA: Viruses like monkeypox are more susceptible to disinfectants than other viruses. There are currently no disinfectants registered for use against monkeypox, but all products with EVP claims have been tested against viruses that are harder to kill. Here’s the EPA’s list of disinfectants for Emerging Viral Pathogens (EVPs), including monkeypox. 

The first US polio case in nearly a decade highlights the importance of vaccination. Less than 60% of kids are vaccinated against polio in some NYC neighborhoods.

DR Congo is investigating a possible Ebola case linked to the 2018 outbreak.

Black Scientists are developing a pulse oximeter that works on darker skin tones.

The rest

Putin ally Alexander Dugin calls for ‘more than just revenge’ after daughter’s killing in a car bomb. Ukraine is preparing for a “particularly nasty” Russian attack this week ahead of Ukraine’s independence day on Aug 24, banning gatherings and celebrations. Western leaders are hoping the Russians will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to make sure it’s operating safely.

Apple is adding select models of MacBooks to its Self Service Repair program. The program will include the 2020 M1 MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro and the 14- and 16-inch 2021 M1 Pros, and it will continue adding more models in time.

A traveler put AirTags in her lost luggage, and they led the police to the thief’s home. Here’s how to use AirTags for prepping.

The hoarder next door: Chinese preppers stay one step ahead. A good article and interview with Chinese preppers.


    • Captain Peanut

      I just looked through my shot records and see that I had the complete polio vaccine series as a child. Thank you mom and dad! That’s one less thing to worry about.

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      • pnwsarahContributor Captain Peanut

        Your post reminded me that my parents were fretting last month about whether or not I had gotten the polio vaccine as a kid.

        I was out of town when they had this conversation and assumed I hadn’t copied over polio info into my emergency info. summary sheet (because… polio?), but I’m home now, checked my paper files, and found out that I had the full series plus two boosters. Then I checked my emergency info. summary sheet and found out that I had included polio vaccine info. for both me and my husband in that summary document. Patting self on back (and grateful we were both vaxxed).

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep working on your finances. Search for jobs, take a course or build skills that keep you employable.
      • Keep building a pantry. Stock shelf-stable foods that you will eat, as you are able.
      • Think how you will stay warm this winter. Do you have a way to heat your home? Do you need a sleeping bag? Do you need backup heat?
      • Store some water in your home
      • Keep tending to your garden. Can you mulch to conserve water? Have you learned anything that will change what you plant next year?
      • Check you Go bag. Make sure it is packed and ready.
      • Fill up your vehicle when your gas tank drops to half full.
      • Stay on top of your vehicle maintenance, and any other items or devices you rely on.
      • Get a paper map. Do you know multiple ways of leaving your area?
      • Plan your escape route. If you had to evacuate for a flood, fire, or other reason – where would you go? Do you have a friend or family member you could stay with? Best to arrange this in advance, before it is needed.
      • Review your insurance coverage. Will you have coverage? What, and how much? Can you call your company to discuss it? If you won’t be covered for ‘extreme’ events, can you shop around? Does that change your life plans? Shopping insurance rates may also be a way to save some money.
      • Review your vaccinations. Do you have this documented for you and your family members? A printed, offline copy for reference? Do you know when you are due for your next shot?
      • Use an umbrella for shade. Do you have other ways of staying cool?
      • Get some exercise
      • Take a break. What are your favourite de-stressing activities?

      Good luck this week.

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      • Bradical brownfox-ff

        Great advice and questions. Hope everyone doesn’t mind me writing out some of my responses and thoughts to them so that I can possibly get some further feedback or advice from all you experts.

        Q: Think how you will stay warm this winter. Do you have a way to heat your home? Do you need a sleeping bag? Do you need backup heat?

        A: I don’t have a way to heat my home, or a sleeping bag. Besides the ones in that article you linked to, are there any particular bags you all like?

        Q: Review your insurance coverage. Will you have coverage? What, and how much? Can you call your company to discuss it? If you won’t be covered for ‘extreme’ events, can you shop around? Does that change your life plans? Shopping insurance rates may also be a way to save some money.

        A: Actually I recently called my insurance company for a check-up to see if I needed to increase my coverage and they said I was all good and I was getting the best deal out there! Go me!

        Q: Use an umbrella for shade. Do you have other ways of staying cool?

        A: Fall is upon me soon so I will probably wait until next Spring to order this, but I want to buy popcicle molds and make my own healthier popcicles to cool me down on hot days.

        Q: Take a break. What are your favourite de-stressing activities?

        A: A good comedy movie or stand up comedian that makes you laugh a lot really makes me forget my troubles.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Bradical

        Hey Bradical, it’s great to ‘think out loud’ and share your thought process and conclusions with the community. Kudos.

        It has been decades since I purchased a sleeping bag, so I can’t personally claim more authority than the research already in the sleeping bag article. Great work on insurance shopping. I feel that is a valuable yearly activity.

        What recipes do you use when creating your own popsicles? Perhaps consider a forum post?

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      • Bradical brownfox-ff

        Great idea to share that as a forum post to help others out as well. I’m going to look online for some molds right now, buy them, then try out various recipes and report back.

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      • Eric brownfox-ff

        “Use an umbrella for shade. Do you have other ways of staying cool?”

        I live in Florida, where 95 degrees and 70 percent humidity is just typical summer weather. It’s hot! We typically stay indoors and rely heavily on air conditioning.

        I recently found a great alternative for staying cool so that I can spend more time outdoors. This vest can keep me cool for about 2 hours. And I recharge it just by leaving it on the floor of an air conditioned room. I’ve been spending a lot more time outside since getting this vest.

        First Line Tech Mesh Cooling Vest


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    • Karl Winterling

      If you have extra cash and you were thinking of buying something that’s manufactured in China, like a phone or laptop or solar power bank charger, it might be a good idea to buy it now.

      Also, while everything is still running relatively smoothly (like you still have health/dental insurance), it’s a good idea to take care of stuff like teeth cleaning, cavity fillings, and making sure you’re up to date on vaccines.

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    • Karl Winterling

      Jason Furman (the Obama Administration economic adviser) said that, given how much people normally pay in student loans and the forgiveness plan, inflation will only be around 0.2-0.3% higher than if payments resumed as before April 2020. So it likely won’t be a huge disaster despite how some people portray it. Though that can be around $200 higher costs per year for a typical household, which could increase polarization. From my perspective at least, it really doesn’t make that much sense to forgive law school or finance school loans because virtually everyone going to law school or finance school knows what you’re getting yourself into.

      (Note: I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice) There’s a non-political article arguing that the forgiveness plan isn’t legal. The extended deferment (beyond the CARES Act date) is probably legal under the Higher Education Act of 1965 as an “economic hardship deferment” and the interest waiver is probably legal under the HEROES Act of 2003 (a post-9/11 law on emergency powers). However, in the case of forgiving debt, it looks like federal regulations prohibit the government from negotiating with a student debtor (or maybe any debtor) unless conditions like the following apply:

      • The borrower can’t repay the debt in a reasonable time frame.
      • The government can’t collect the debt in a reasonable time frame through garnishing your wages.
      • Collecting the debt is more expensive than the amount likely to be collected.
      • The government/agency thinks it can’t win a lawsuit against the borrower.

      Pretty much none of this applies when someone is able to pay.

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