News roundup for Tue, Jul 19, 2022

In short:
  • Gazprom declared force majeure on gas supplies to Europe
  • Monkeypox cases in the US rose to almost 2,000
  • The UN chief warns that humanity faces ‘collective suicide’ over the climate crisis
Economy, food security, gas

75% of US middle-class households report that their income is falling behind their living costs

US gas prices should drop to $4 in the coming weeks. The emergency oil releases are scheduled to end by the end of the year, but oil companies should have increased production by then. In addition, OPEC still can produce a lot more oil. Here are the highest and lowest gas prices in the US today.

There is evidence that summer airfares are peaking due to inflation pressure. But prices will likely remain higher than they were a year ago.

According to a new report, Australia’s inflation is escalating due to rising corporate profits.

Heatflation: How sizzling temperatures drive up food prices. The European Central Bank looked at the evidence last year that abnormal temperatures can drive inflation. In 48 countries, they found hot summers had “by far the largest and longest-lasting impact” on food prices. The effects lasted almost a year and were most noticeable in developing countries.

Opinion: Food may be the ultimate weapon in the 21st century. The strangling of Ukraine shows how agricultural insecurity can be used to foment geopolitical chaos.

An Albuquerque gas station cut gas prices in half for a few hours to help customers with inflation. An interesting data point from the article: e-bikes sales are through the roof in Albuquerque.


Gazprom declared force majeure on gas supplies to Europe. Fear is growing that Russia may not restart the Nord Stream 1 pipeline at the end of its annual maintenance period on Thursday. The EU plans to stop using Russian fossil fuels by 2027 but wants supplies to continue while it develops alternatives.

Germany is considering extending the life of its three nuclear plants if Russian gas is cut off. Environmental and economy ministries in March did not recommend extending the plants’ life, citing various challenges and the need for extensive and costly safety checks. But the leading provider of nuclear safety testing said Germany’s nuclear plants could keep operating safely after December. Public support is rising in the face of a possible cut-off of Russian gas.

US coal plants are being turned into solar farms. Illinois alone will turn nine coal plants into solar farms or battery storage facilities within three years. Seven more states will follow suit in a similar time frame. Old plants are a great choice because they’re part of the country’s existing infrastructure and have substations.

Seven of the US’s biggest Bitcoin mining companies use nearly as much electricity as all the homes in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, according to a new congressional study.

Australia will build at least four hydrogen refueling stations between Sydney and Melbourne. Here’s a good infographic and article on battery vs. hydrogen fuel cell:

Via Visual Capitalist (click to link)
Climate change, environment, extreme weather

England is under the country’s first-ever red heat warning. Temperatures of up to 106F (41C) should peak Tuesday. These temperatures are what UK forecasters thought 2050 would look like and can give us an insight into the future:

UK unions are calling for a legal limit on how hot it can get at work. According to the GMB union, workers shouldn’t work in temperatures above 25C (77F). There are no laws in the UK or Ireland that state any given temperature is too hot or cold to work, even though several MPs have recently backed a campaign for a legal upper limit of 30C (86F) in most workplaces or 27C (81F) for those doing strenuous activity.

Here are some photos of how people are dealing with the extreme heat wave in Europe.

Iran arrested several protesters over the drying of Lake Urmia—formerly the world’s largest salt lake. Until 1995, Lake Urmia was Iran’s main domestic tourist attraction before it began shrinking due to extreme drought, agriculture, and dam construction. Water levels have risen from their historic low, but it’s unclear if it’s because of higher rainfall or government initiatives.

UN Secretary-General Guterres said that humanity faces “collective suicide” over climate change. “Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.” “We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.” Guterres was in Berlin for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue to discuss the impacts of the climate crisis. The conference is one of the last opportunities to hammer out agreements among key countries before Egypt’s November Cop27 UN climate summit.

No, the plankton are not “All Dead. Plus, good conversations (both in the Reddit post and on Twitter) relevant to critical thinking/misinformation. Also, check community member July Lewis’s great post on Evaluating information – a prepper skill.

Opinion: The terrifying truth: Britain’s a hothouse, but one day 40C will seem cool.


Monkeypox cases in the US rose to almost 2,000, with infections reported in 43 states. Some are criticizing the CDC’s response, while the CDC is pointing out that, despite challenges, they have expanded the case definition to encourage health care providers to test for the virus and they have dramatically increased the availability of vaccines (although demand is outstripping supply). Fauci said that the current case number is likely an undercount and that “we have to act like it will have the capability of spreading much more widely than it’s spreading right now.”

60% of Covid infections are asymptomatic. One more reason to keep wearing a mask.

Ghana confirms its first outbreak of the Marburg virus (a cousin of Ebola). Health officials have already mobilized, and for now, the virus seems contained.

988 is the new Suicide & Crisis lifeline number:

The rest

US houses of worship are increasing security after shootings. Some churches are adding more security cameras, developing an active shooter plan, and applying for Department of Homeland Security funding. Speaking of shootings, a good guy with a gun stopped an active shooter in an Indiana mall.

A 16-year-old saved three teenagers who were swept into a river and the police officer who went to their rescue. Some learning lessons that stood out to me: the driver trusted their GPS and did not realize it was leading them into the water (a.k.a. death by GPS), and trying to rescue a drowning person who is panicking can be really dangerous for the rescuer.


    • Captain Peanut

      I totally forgot about the Queen’s guard! They must have been really struggling through that hot streak.

      Sorry if it’s dark humor, this heat wave is nothing to laugh about, but I hope each guard has their own fuzzy hat. Wouldn’t want to start your shift and have to put on the sweaty hat from the last guy who’s been out in the 100+ degree weather all day.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Consider ways you can localize your supply chain. Can you buy any supplies or staples from local shoppes? Join a community farm? Can you acquire supplies by walking, rolling, biking, or other transportation that does not use fossil fuel?
      • Learn to garden. Continue to care for your garden. Grow some local food.
      • Consider a solar panel to charge some electronics.
      • Stay cool in the heat. Create or find shade, slow down, stay hydrated.
      • Store some water in your home. If your water is shut off during a heat wave, are you ready?
      • Plant some trees. Trees lower nearby temperatures, provide shade, help to retain moisture, and absorb CO2. Check where you may be able to plant in your local area, or join a volunteer group.
      • Practice de-catastrophisizing (off-site link). This means: describe events in the most matter-of-fact neutral way, to help remove emotion. Help yourself and others to prepare by building mental resilience. This technique is often employed by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
      • Keep working on your finances Search for alternate jobs, practice interviewing.
      • Learn new skills that apply in your field or career. Invest in yourself.
      • Learn to swim. Good exercise and a valuable skill.
      • Take a first aid class. Practice and training that will never go to waste.
      • Keep stocking your pantry with long-term, shelf stable foods as you are able.
      • Consider how you will stay warm and heat your home this winter. Do you need e.g. a space heater? Warm clothes and blankets?
      • Keep wearing a well-fitting, quality mask

      Good luck this week.

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    • Pops

      On gas prices:
      Releases from the SPR are about 1 million barrels per day, in a market of 100 mmB/D—a proverbial drop in the bucket. Good spin from the White House but that’s all.

      Don’t expect OPEC to save us, they can’t even meet their own quotas. Saudi is importing Russian oil to run their a/c. Unless sanctions are removed from Russia, Venezuela & Iran, world production won’t rise fast.
      In Saudi America, only the frack basin in New Mexico & TX have any potential to grow production—allt the other fracking miracles are going POOF! It was all a card trick anyway, turning unlimited capital into unprofitable oil and we’re suffering the consequences.

      Upshot is, the only reason gas price is falling is because demand is being crushed by high price. Think it is bad in the US, ask folks overseas. Oil is sold everywhere in US dollars, and because of rising interest rates the US dollar is stronger than its been in 20 years. Consequently everyone who gets paid in some other currency is getting a double whammy, in effect buying high priced dollars to pay for high priced gas.

      Likely the Permian basin has a ways to run (a couple of years anyway) and I’m pretty sure some of the countries sanctioned now will be forgiven their transgressions eventually so we can get more oil. But it would be prudent to give thought to how you’ll function when $5 gal feels like the Good Old Days.

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    • Karl Winterling

      We can get more oil from OPEC and domestic production but that won’t get up and running for some time (like in 2023). There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of spare capacity that can come online right now. The 1 million bbl/day release from the SPR can help somewhat while production gradually increases, but I tend to agree we should only use the SPR in dire emergencies rather than to ameliorate annoyingly high gas prices.

      The reasons for the price drop are:

      • Demand destruction caused by inflation, especially in non-dollar currencies.
      • Russia’s production has been smoother than expected even as we approach the December 5, 2022 deadline for the UK and EU to stop using Russian oil. Russia seems like it will keep trying to sell to willing buyers rather than retaliate against sanctions with production cuts, though I don’t have a crystal ball or Bene Gesserit prescience powers.
      • More oil investors expect a recession.
      • Raising interest rates creates a “strong dollar” environment, which lowers the cost of crude oil in dollars but makes it more expensive in every other currency.
      • Domestic gasoline (petrol) consumption has been lower in 2022Q2 than all of 2021. It’s not all bad news because some of the decrease is linked to better vehicle fuel efficiency.
      • The SPR and modest production increases are enough to influence prices in a tight market.

      I don’t think we’re at the End of the World or the Peak Oil “doomer” scenario just yet, but it might be a good idea to practically and psychologically prepare yourself for a possible future when $4-6 gas/petrol was the “good old days.”

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    • Bed

      Jeez, heat waves have been getting really, really bad everywhere for the past few years, huh…
      I’m starting to wonder if there’s any real way to prepare for this stuff, especially as someone who believes governments won’t even attempt to assist with this. As a 21-year-old who sadly has no job/income or any preparedness-related things because of that, I’ve been thinking about how catastrophic this all is. Heck, I even blocked that subreddit linked in the article since I’d browse it in school and at home and basically distract myself from doing… anything else, really, which thrashed my mental health.
      While I’m thankful to be somewhere with a relatively stable (so far) temperature and electrical grid, but more importantly with a family I enjoy being with and the ability to bring up stuff to distract from the chaos surrounding us, I do feel like I might be ‘setting myself up for failure,’ I guess.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Bed

        Hey friend, kudos to you for being interested in the world around you, and in wanting to be better prepared.
        I wish I had started when I was 21.

        The world is a big place. It can quickly feel daunting trying to understand it all or fix it all at once.
        I find the best place to start is: focus on one thing that you can control.

        Most of us don’t decide the actions of large government agencies or big groups of people.
        Often all we can do is decide for ourselves.
        For me that means focusing on two areas: my own thoughts, and my own actions.
        I can’t always control the worries and stress that come into my life. But I can always try to control what I do, and how I respond to it.

        I agree with your decision to limit some social media. I block out most of it, and try to limit my news-reading to a maximum amount of time per week.
        I like to fill my time with positive actions – reading books, spending time with family, working on projects. And often – prepping.

        >I’m starting to wonder if there’s any real way to prepare for this stuff

        You’re off to a great start by asking the question. How could you prepare?
        And you’re in the right place.

        It never hurts to return and start from the beginning. With a beginner’s mindset, there are many options. Perhaps there are some you hadn’t noticed before.

        One step might be: write down a list of what ‘stuff’ you want to prepare for. Then walk through some options.

        – How would you like to respond to it, if money was no option?
        – How could you respond it now, with what you have?
        – Where might you be?
        – What gear would you need?
        – Where would you go, or what would you do?

        Then whittle it down.

        Pick one thing and start small.

        I don’t know your situation. Are you able to look for a job? Volunteer at a place where you can learn and get training? Become an apprentice or learn skills that will lead to employment? Talk to others in your area about strategies that worked for them?

        Even if you have no money to spend, you can still do many things to prepare:

        • Exercise and get into shape. Create a life routine where you can exercise regularly. Being physically fit makes you better prepared for almost anything, and you will be ahead of most.
        • Clean and organize. Do you have extra stuff that you don’t need? Any rooms that have junk or need tidying? Cleaning up and organizing your living space is good exercise, good for your mental health, and will help you to be better able to tackle life. You might even find some items you can sell second-hand at garage sales or ebay/facebook marketplace.
        • Do laundry. Any event is easier to handle when you have fresh, clean clothes.
        • Manage your pantry. Do you have any staples or non-perishable foods? Ensure they do not go to waste. Build a system for storing the oldest goods at the front – ready to use – and placing new incoming goods at the back, to properly rotate. When you build good skills and habits, no one can take those from you.
        • Learn to cook. Learn basic cooking skills and a few recipes that let create good-tasting meals from the food you already have. Good food builds morale, and you may have many more friends or positive reactions if you can cook well during a crisis. You can find many videos, books, and resources for this online. Here is a free PDF of the book “Good And Cheap”, freely given by the author  It also has a page on pantry management.
        • Practice a fire drill. If there is a fire – do you know how to get out and where to go? Do you have meeting place or local contact?
        • Make a preparedness plan. Take a look at where you live and the common scenarios you might face. You can start by researching weather and potential natural disasters in your area – wild fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, large storms, floods, droughts, etc. Which of these apply to you? For each, write down a response plan of: Where might you be? Where would you need to go? What would you need to bring or how would you get there? How might your plans fail, and what would your backup plan be? This may help you to think about what you may do. In addition to the beginner list on this site I like this essay .
        • Document your plan
        • Create an emergency contact list. Collect the phone numbers for fire, utilities, and family or neighbours you might call when you need help. Add the account numbers so it’s all in one place. Put it on the fridge or a prominent location so it is easy for anyone to find.
        • Talk with your family. This may vary depending on your situation, but if you can broach the subject gently it is great to have family on board.
        • Catch up with a friend. Check on how they are doing. Comparing notes may help to encourage both of you, or give you ideas. Connecting with people we like improves happiness for both parties.
        • Join a club. Do you enjoy bird watching? Star gazing? Sewing? Chess? You might make new friends or contacts, and meet people with great skills. Or choose a hobby related to preparedness – for example, ham radio
        • Explore your neighbourhood. Get out in nature. Enjoy the scenery. Good for stress relief and exercise. Can you build a map or note important and useful locations around you?
        • Work on your mental health. Do you enjoy meditation, philosophy, debate, psychology or other skills to build mental resilience?
        • Practice gratitude. What is one thing you’re grateful for this week? Practicing gratitude helps train our brains to recognize the positive, and recognize progress.
        • Learn how to tie some useful knots
        • Read a book. Do you have access to a library? Books around your house? Whether for enjoyment, learning, or a bit of both, reading enriches the mind.

        Here is a forum post with more ideas on cheap and free activities.

        Pick one thing.
        We’d love to hear about it.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff brownfox-ff

        There’s nothing I love more than to see people taking the time and helping each other out here on the site! Very kind and wise words Brownfox. There are many things you have mentioned that I too want to work on. 

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      • TraceContributor brownfox-ff

        Outstanding answer with a lot of insight and, obvious, experience! I’ve given many of these same tips to my adult children.

        Focus on what you can change (#1 your attitude/perspective). Go slow and be patient—the experts didn’t get there overnight and you can’t either—take on bite size pieces (How do you eat an elephant? 1 bite at a time).

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Trace

        Hello Gideon and Trace – thank you for the kind words. Excellent advice of yours also. It is a pleasure to be here exchanging knowledge and learning with you all.

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