News roundup for Tue, Aug 30, 2022

In short:
  • Early signs suggest monkeypox may be slowing in some US cities.
  • Pakistan declared a national emergency over floods covering a third of the country.
  • BP refinery in Indiana shut down, affecting fuel supply in the US Midwest.
Economy, energy, supply chain

The UK will raise its cap on energy bills to an average of £3,549 starting Oct 1. The cap does not apply in Northern Ireland. To reflect current market volatility, Ofgem will recalculate the cap every three months rather than every six months. The cap does not protect businesses, and small business owners are starting to face the brunt. A senior economist warned, “A catastrophe is coming this winter as soaring energy bills risk causing serious physical and financial damage to families across Britain.”

Macron warns of ‘sacrifices’ ahead after the ‘end of abundance.’ He says climate change and instability caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine signaled “the end of abundance.”

This winter might be harsh, but at least the likelihood of gas rationing is looking less likely.

The EU will convene an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss how new high gas prices are threatening to send Europe into recession:

Via FT

A BP refinery in Indiana shut down after a fire—the disruption is affecting fuel supply in the Midwest. Michigan declared a state of energy emergency. It is still unclear when the refinery will be back operational.

The two biggest data centers are stockpiling generator fuel in case of power blackouts.

Here’s an explainer of SNAP benefits and their eligibility.

Here are your odds of falling home prices in your local housing market. Click here or on the image below to go to the interactive map:

Opinion: Will El Salvador be the first country bankrupted by crypto?

Food security

Abbott is resuming production of Similac baby formula—should start to hit the shelves about six weeks from now.

Exports of grain from Ukrainian ports have surpassed one million metric tons. Forty-four ships had been sent to 15 nations, and 70 applications for ships to be loaded were received. Ukraine’s grain exports are down 52.6%. Ukraine could harvest at least 50 million tonnes of grain this year, compared with a record 86 million tonnes in 2021. Ukraine’s 2022 wheat harvest is 98% complete.

US corn harvest was the smallest since 2019. With dry weather and extreme heat hurting plants across the Midwest, it’s becoming less and less likely that the US will be able to fill those supply gaps left by the invasion of Ukraine.

The global situation, in a nutshell:

Here are American corn fields as seen from space:

Opinion: Next year’s food crisis will be different from this year’s. This year’s food crisis is primarily due to logistics issues with shipping Ukrainian and Russian grains out of the countries. But next year, the food supply itself could be in trouble—especially in Ukraine, where the war has disrupted sowing.

Climate change, environment, extreme weather

Pakistan declared a national emergency over floods that killed more than 1,000 people:

More videos:

Map of the floods:

Via The Independent

Watch how volunteers used a bed frame to rescue people:

Floods in nearby Afghanistan killed more than 180 people and destroyed over 3,000 houses. The Taliban are pleading for humanitarian help.

We don’t have a guide on how to prep for and survive flash floods (yet), but I’ve compiled some tips and resources in a recent roundup.

Study: Larger organic farms are more likely to use fewer sustainable farming practices.

Cool animation about heatwaves, the heartbeat, and breath of the Earth /Global surface two-meter temperature record from Jan 1 to Aug 22:

If you want a long read, here’s a report on the drought in Europe in August 2022.

Beaver dams in Devon, England, create wetland areas amid the drought. The beavers were released as part of a five-year study that ended in 2020, and there are now up to two ft of water:

Via BBC
Health

The CDC is cautiously optimistic that monkeypox in the US is slowing down. Even though cases are still rising across the country, new infections in big cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco seem to be slowing. Vaccinations and more awareness/change in behavior seem to be working. Data will be more precise in the following weeks.

Via NPR

Omicron-specific boosters: Here’s more about them and how they work, and here are suggestions on how to plan a fall booster shot.

FDA extended the shelf life of some at-home Covid tests. Go here to check if your tests have a new expiration date.

WHO approves Africa’s first locally-made malaria drug for pregnant women and children.

The rest

I had shared the following two news items on our Discord, but they seem too important not to mention again:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is forming a congressional caucus focused on disaster preparedness and recovery.

Senate passes bipartisan bill to protect pets and other animals during and after natural disasters.

A major Florida insurer is exiting the market, leaving thousands of homeowners uninsured.

Pro- and anti-abortion groups clash at California Planned Parenthood clinic.

Watch how this boy’s prompt reaction saved his mother while she was having a seizure in the pool:

There have been many plagues in the world as there have been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared.” Albert Camus, The Plague

  • 10 Comments

    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep building your pantry, as you are able. Extra food is a good insurance and defense.
      • Tend and harvest your garden
      • Consider preserving some food, if able. Methods such as fermentation or dehydrating can be low effort and help your food last longer.
      • Consider how you will stay warm this winter. Do you have a way to create heat? Candles? Do you have warm blankets, sleeping bags, sweaters, socks?
      • Think about how you could reduce your living space, if needed, to stay warm. Could you shelter in a single room? Do you have a family or pet that would help to add body heat? Do you have a tent? Could you create a canopy bed? Are there air leaks or other areas of your home you could address and fix now if the weather is warm?
      • Make a list of your favourite meals. Can you plan ahead and stock some items to help raise morale with a good meal?
      • Make a list of shelf-stable foods that you could use to create meals. What do you enjoy eating that you could make without cooking? Can you practice?
      • Review your entertainment options. What do you do or have for fun? Do you enjoy card games? Board games? Sewing?
      • Run a practice session, as if the fuel supply was cut off near you. If you were unable to get fuel for your vehicle for several days, what would you do and how would you cope? Do you have backup plans or options for staying safe, getting to work, helping your family? Making a plan now may help.
      • Check on your Go Bag. Do you have it packed and ready to go?
      • Find a way to receive emergency alerts. If you are in a floodable area, do you know how you would hear about alerts? Do you need a flood app? Radio?
      • Write down an evacuation route. And a backup route. If your area flooded, do you have an evacuation plan, and a backup route? Where would you go? Do you need a map?
      • Review how to prepare for civil unrest, or traveling through a possible area of protest
      • Take swimming lessons. It’s never to late to learn. Knowing how to swim is a useful skill at any age.
      • Get some exercise. Exercise helps reduce stress.
      • Make a list of things that went well this week. Has anything positive happened? It is okay, and helpful, to celebrate and be grateful.

      Good luck this week. What are you grateful for that’s going well?

      9 |
    • Hardened

      Opinion: Will El Salvador be the first country bankrupted by crypto?

      Answer: No. As usual this is more anti-crypto propoganda. From the article:

      El Salvador’s national debt is $23 billion, $800 million of which needs to start being paid to the IMF by 2023.

      Bukele claims to have purchased 2,400 bitcoin tokens at more than $100 million. Due to market fluctuations, the government’s bitcoin holdings have lost 60 percent of their value.

      The country is in debt by $23 billion to the usual culprit, the IMF.  In a desperate bid to escape this crushing debt the president tried to attract foreign capital through a creative (and non-democratic) scheme involving Bitcoin.  The scheme has lost $60 million, which amounts to 0.3% of the dollar-based debt that is bankrupting El Salvador.  Crypto has nothing to do with the bankruptcy of El Salvadador but is a convenient distraction away from the real problem.

      2 |
    • Hardened

      Whoa, the floods in Pakistan are shocking!

      3 |
    • Carlotta SusannaStaff

      Been blasting this everywhere, but I think it’s worth it: If you haven’t ordered your free Covid tests, you have only until Sat Sep 2 to do so! Remember, you get up to 8 in total, so even if you’ve already ordered a first batch, you can still order more. https://special.usps.com/testkits

      2 |
      • Greg P Carlotta Susanna

        Thanks for the links on the expiration extension – I have 8 tests sitting in my cabinet that were “expired”; so glad I didn’t toss them.  Now, I’m good for almost 6 months on those.  Also, the refresher on the Omicron booster was helpful – I had read both of those articles, but had let it slip into the back of my brain!  I’ll be looking to get the booster ASAP.  I work in healthcare & have (knock wood) not caught COVID yet ( at least I don’t THINK I have).  

        4 |
      • I had used an expired test from one box but found the liquid had dried up too much to use, another expired box was just fine. My guess is the liquid will dry up before it’s unusable then.

        5 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff EzlyAmuzzed

        I think you’re right in identifying the liquid drying out as being the likely point of failure. I had a test that was almost expired and had no liquid in it either.

        1 |
    • Greg P

      Re: Midwest refinery fire.  The EPA waived a rule that keeps certain types of gasoline from being sold during the summer in the four states affected.  The season for the rule expires September 15th anyway, but every little bit helps.

      2 |