News roundup for Tue, Jun 07, 2022

In short:
  • By 2030, almost half the global population will experience severe water stress
  • CO2 levels in the atmosphere just reached the highest in human history
  • There’s still a narrow chance that the US will avoid a hard recession
Economy, food security, supply chain

Every American is affected by inflation but in different ways. Consumers with more income continue to splurge, but the combination of high spending and high inflation could have many running out of savings by the end of this year. Low-income shoppers, or those with less flexibility, are cutting back faster than expected, opting for cheaper items, or buying a little at a time. Not necessarily connected to inflation, but debt has risen among older people (and they’re more likely to have multiple medical diagnoses).

Here is a simple personal inflation calculator—it might not have a practical purpose, but it can be helpful to understand how inflation is affecting someone personally. As an example, I don’t have children nor do I drive much on a daily basis, but eat out often and take a couple of trips yearly, and my personal rate of inflation is 6.9%, compared to the US national average of about 8.3%.

Five months after the child tax credit ended, nearly half of families with children can no longer afford enough food. People are dipping into their emergency savings instead of saving for the future, according to most survey respondents. Unsurprisingly, US food banks are experiencing a surge in demand. But inflation and fewer donations make it difficult for them to meet demand.

Abbott restarted the production of baby formula. The earliest it could hit the shelves is in three weeks. Abbott will prioritize the production of its EleCare specialty formulas for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems who have fewer nutrition options. More shipments from abroad are on their way, too. If using a foreign formula, parents will need to pay attention to different mixing instructions.

SNAP benefits can be used to purchase seeds and plants to start a food garden:

Goldman Sachs economists believe there is still a narrow chance the US might avoid a hard recessionMorgan Stanley is also seeing some encouraging signs inflation is cooling and that some of the worst supply-chain disruptions are improving. The job market is still hot, and unemployment rates are near a pre-pandemic low:


The US waived tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian countries for two years. The initiative comes in the wake of concerns about the freezing of solar projects nationwide. The US is considering lifting tariffs on other goods too in order to rein in inflation.

Ford is investing $3.7 billion across three facilities in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. The move will create 6,000 jobs and most of the production will be aimed at producing or assembling electric vehicles.

Germany and other European countries would face a recession if energy imports from Russia were halted. Even though dependence on Russian gas varies within the EU, the EU’s GDP could be slashed by 2.5 to 4.2 percentage points if gas imports from Russia stopped.

Via Statista

Hospitals in Lebanon are running out of medicine and staff due to an ongoing economic crisis. Currently, Lebanon’s economy is undergoing a devastating economic crisis, which has caused severe shortages of everything from food to fuel to medicine.

Climate, environment, and extreme weather

CO2 levels in the atmosphere just reached the highest in human history. Carbon dioxide is one of the most important greenhouse gases linked to climate change as it lingers in Earth’s atmosphere for centuries. While it’s naturally found in trace levels in Earth’s atmosphere, the concentration of this heat-trapping gas has been rising since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century due to human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation.


The US can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 if it implements several strategies, according to a new study. These include having 80% clean energy on the grid and making sure most cars sold by the end of the decade are electric. The main impediment to achieving the goals is not a matter of costs, but rather a coordinated effort among policymakers and other stakeholders.

A new report warns that more than 40% of Earth’s land surface needs to be preserved to stop the biodiversity crisis. A quarter of the planet’s population, roughly 1.87 billion people, live in areas that need conservation attention, largely in developing countries in Africa, Central America and Asia. A draft global treaty is due to be finalized in the third quarter of this year.

High-resolution satellite data shows that the Alps are turning greener due to global warming. Vegetated areas above the treeline have increased by 77% since 1984 and snow cover is decreasing. Further heating will melt glaciers and thaw permafrost, which may cause mudflows, rockfalls, and landslides. The spread of plants at high altitudes could paradoxically threaten many Alpine plants, which are hardy, but not very competitive.

Tests show that car tires produce more particle pollution than exhaust. Other research suggests tire particles are major sources of microplastics polluting the oceans. California has proposed banning a chemical used in tires that’s linked to salmon deaths. There’s no regulation on the wear rate of tires and not much on the chemicals they contain.

Global plastic waste is set to almost triple by 2060, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Tropical Storm Alex, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, killed three people in Cuba, flooded Florida, and lashed Bermuda. The storm’s appearance was unusually early for the Atlantic hurricane season, but it is not unprecedented for Florida:

Climate change is forcing US schools to close early for ‘heat days’.

Drought is causing water cuts, famine, and sinking land

California farmers are struggling. Researchers at the University of California, Merced estimate the drought cost the state’s agriculture industry $1.1 billion last year. About 385,000 acres in the Central Valley were also idled due to the drought. The drought was also linked to the loss of nearly 8,750 full- and part-time jobs across the state. Rural communities in California are already tapped out. A farmer from Central Valley is saying that “this part of the state is slowly dying” and “I tell my grandkids as soon as you get out, leave this area.” The drought in California has also caused entire towns to sink nearly a foot in just one year. Subsidence will likely continue for decades or centuries, but aquifers could recover with a significant rise in water levels, according to researchers at Standford.

Colorado will lose half its snow by 2080 and look more like Arizona, a new study shows.

Monterrey, Mexico is limiting water access to six hours a dayTemperatures above 40C (104F) have caused the state of Nuevo Leon to declare an “extreme drought” state of emergency back in February. The region has seen less rain than expected since 2015.

In Chile, water has become a national security issue. Pablo García-Chevesich, a Chilean hydrologist working at the University of Arizona said “It’s the biggest problem facing the country economically, socially and environmentally. If we don’t solve this, then water will be the cause of the next uprising.”

Aculeo Lake in Paine, Chile, on 1 January 2013 (top) and the same spot on 5 March 2019 (bottom). Photograph: Christian Miranda/AFP/Getty Images. Via The Guardian

17 million people across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan are suffering from famine due to drought. More than 286,000 people in Ethiopia have been displaced from their homes, and over 1,100 schools are closed, leaving young girls especially vulnerable to sexual and physical violence, child labor, and early marriage.

Water security is now a key US foreign policy priority.  Almost half of the global population will experience “severe water stress” by 2030 due to climate change and population growth. Research shows that water scarcity increases conflict, and conflict over water and migration could end up “creating additional demands on US diplomatic, economic, humanitarian, and military resources.”

The rest

Staffing shortage forces some summer camps to trim or cancel all programs.

American’s CEO says the airline has grounded 100 planes due to a lack of pilots.

The governor of New York has signed a law raising the age to own a semiautomatic rifle to 21.

Every single patient in a drug trial saw their rectal cancer go away. The trial size was small but the result promising. Cancer remission in every trial patient may be unheard of for a cancer drug intervention.

Covid vaccinations for children under five could be administered as early as June 21.

Last week, a man was killed by an alligator while searching for frisbees in a Florida swamp, and a woman was gored by a bison she approached while visiting Yellowstone National Park. Here are four essential reads on enjoying wildlife, and a useful chart:

Via The Conversation



    • Captain Peanut

      It’s funny how much I’ve come to look forward to these news roundups. I thought about it multiple times yesterday and was excited to wake up and read them today.

      My personal inflation rate, using the calculator you provided, is 7.9%.

      That has got to be a scary situation for countries like Moldova and North Macedonia that rely 100% on Russian gas. It’s like if you needed a lifesaving medicine and it’s only available in one place. If they shut down you are in big trouble.

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      • TraceContributor Captain Peanut

        I really enjoy and look forward to it also! I appreciate the prepper-centric angle that I have never found anywhere else. Carlotta you’re doing a great job!

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Trace

        Thank you, folks.! I try 🙂

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      • Keep job hunting, and invest in skills that make you more employable or capable. Is there a course you can take or other way to practice?
      • Keep building your pantry if and as you are able
      • Plant some seeds. Even growing tomatoes on a step or herbs such as cilantro or green onions on a window sill can help to learn skills, add nutrition, and add taste and variety.
      • Plant some trees to create habitat, retain moisture, and absorb carbon
      • Plant some flowers. Find some diverse species that grow in your area and help to create a strong habitat.
      • Store some water in your home
      • Consider a water filter so you can make use of water if needed.
      • Pardon the self-promoting link, but Consider a rain barrel project. Improve your drought tolerance by capturing, storing, and using this free resource that falls from the sky and would otherwise flow away. (I have been harping on this so much I tried to put my money where my mouth is and write up a guide)
      • Learn how to get ready for extreme heat
      • Get some exercise
      • Don’t pet the bison

      Good luck this week.

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      • TraceContributor brownfox-ff

        I highly recommend reading AND BUILDING browfox’s water barrel project!!

        When we talk about storing water—1 gallon per person per day—that’s mostly for cooking and drinking. The importance of being able to continue flushing your toilet in a water outage cannot be overstated — and  a 55 gallon rain barrel could handle almost 20 (3 gallon toilet) flushes! 

        I don’t do this to save money (we have a well) or stretch my available water (we live in the PNW) I do it because it adds an easy level of redundancy for a critical (water) prep. 

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      • Greg P Trace

        I’ve had a rain barrel for about the last 8 years.  Super easy to adapt into my gutter system.  I purchased an adapter kit online  (Amazon for me)- make sure you get one that is the same size as your gutters – I moved and my new gutters/downspout was 4 inches vs. 3 like my old one (D’oh!).  It’s been great to use for watering our flowers and container food plantings.  The local Whole Foods has rain barrels and actually our county government agency carries them as well.  I purchased a sturdy base to get my spigot away from the ground – easier to fill containers as well.  Mine is a hard plastic of some sort.  It came with a hole in the bottom  I filled it most of the way with sandbox sand and plugged the hole with a rubber stopper.  It weighs about 40 pounds, but that 450#+ rain barrel won’t squash it now!  For those of us who aren’t too handy, the necessary parts seem to be readily available.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Regarding drought – this article suggests that 70-80% of the water used by cities in southern California is used for “urban irrigation”. i.e. watering lawns? That seems like a risky way to spend your water.

      We have been researching drought-tolerant native plants in our area, as well as xeriscaping and microclover. Though microclover may use less water, some sources suggest it does not do well in intense heat.

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      Actions you can take to reduce your plastic usage or exposure:

      • Bring your own boxes or reusable bags to get groceries
      • Use metal or wooden(?) straws instead of plastic straws
      • Use a reusable glass or metal water bottle
      • Don’t buy single-use plastic water bottles
      • Other?

      Josh also lists some options in his book review of “Count Down”.

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      • Robert LarsonContributor brownfox-ff

        If you do use plastic shopping bags, or your products are wrapped in that thin plastic film, those aren’t recyclable with your home recycling company and actually can damage the machines there. But you can return all of those to your grocery store and they recycle them.

        Every month we recycle a beach ball sized pile of plastic film and hopefully that is being handled properly and not just ending up in a landfill for some seagull to choke on.

        The recycling process is not perfect though and only a portion of everything you throw into that bin actually is processed correctly. The best thing you can do is what brownfox-ff mentions here and use your own reusable bottle, straw, or grocery bags.

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff brownfox-ff

        Thanks for putting these lists together, as usual, Brownfox!

        There was a good discussion about microplastics in this past roundup, and Bill suggested installing a reverse osmosis system to get microplastics out of the water. As an extension, other water filters might be able to filter microplastics, too. 

        If possible, I would also add that it might be worth supporting those businesses that offer biodegradable take-out containers or wrappers, or asking them to provide an eco-friendly alternative.

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    • TraceContributor


      All this talk about drought and water shortages and I keep thinking if I can just get 4 or 5 dry days in a row I can get some projects done with the tractor! Admittedly this this has been a much damper spring/early summer than normal in the PNW.  

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      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Trace

        You know, North CO has also been unusually damp these past two springs, although we’re already getting into the 90s this week so not as damp as the PNW!

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    • Hardened

      Haha, love the petting chart!

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    • Greg P

      The issue of food security will only worsen as gas continues to rise in price.  I’ve seen it rise locally by fifty cents a gallon within the past two weeks.  Is this a STHF scenario?  When people have to choose between gas & feeding their families – what will give?  Those are not either/or choices!  What lengths will folks go to in order to feed their loved ones?  I think we all know that these issues are already playing out in some developing nations now.  We  as a nation are not immune to these pressures.  These sort of thoughts disturb my sleep.  Thanks for letting me let off some steam.  Good luck everyone!

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    • CR

      Great write up as always Carlotta Susanna! We’re in the San Joaquin valley of CA & drought is indeed a big issue. Personally we made a recent decision to not buy the upcoming “retirement” RV, truck, and all its attendant equipment, fuel, & maintenance, and are instead putting in a pool (adjacent to the drip watered and heavily mulched garden) and much more drought friendly landscaping. The reduction in lawn/grass should come close or even exceed the pool consumption, and we’ll have extra water storage as well as cooling and exercise for our long hot summers right here. For travel we’ll just take very basic camping equipment & alternate with local accommodations as we wander. Bonus, of course, is having a fun spot for grandkids & other family/friends to come hang out. 

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