News roundup for Tue, Mar 22, 2022

Ukraine

10 million people have fled Ukraine during these first few weeks:

Mariupol, a port city with a population the size of Miami, is being leveled.

Extreme weather

There were deadly wildfires in Texas last week. Over 60 square miles have burned and hundreds of families have been displaced. High winds and dry conditions are contributing to the complex of fires. Many families are left devastated. And now Central Texas is currently under tornado threat, too:

Hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya have been displaced over the last decade from severe flooding. Heavy rains in the Kenyan and Ethiopian highlands are responsible for the problem and the expectation is that these events will continue and potentially worsen.

The climate crisis that is responsible for the flooding in Kenya (and in Brazil this week) may also cause your allergies to get much worse. Allergy season will start earlier and have much higher pollen counts as the climate warms.

Antarctica and the Arctic are really way too hot right now. They are 70 and 50 degrees F above normal, respectively. Scientists are shocked by these temperatures.

Pandemic

COVID hospitalizations in England are growing rapidly, in children too:

Omicron stays viable on solid surfaces twice as long as the wild-type virus, but experts say there’s no need to be overly concerned with fomite contamination. Inhalation of the virus is still the most likely way to become infected. From an infection-prevention standpoint, though, it’s a good practice to do frequent hand hygiene.

Another large study shows no benefit from ivermectin as a COVID therapeutic. It’s one of the largest studies to date and it’s a randomized, controlled trial:

Supply chain

Biden approved more natural gas exports to Europe. Hundreds of millions of additional cubic feet of cooled, liquid natural gas will be allowed to be exported per day on top of the billions we already export.

Lebanon has had no wheat orders since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The price of wheat is very high and Lebanon cannot afford market rates. There are concerns for a food crisis. India is producing a bumper crop of wheat this year, but its market rate is also very high:

Over 5 million chickens culled in Iowa because of bird flu. The CDC said that there is no immediate threat to the public, and it is safe to eat poultry products.

The rest

The US Senate has voted to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. If this goes through many northern US states will have very dark winters, with sunrise coming after 9 am many days. Some argue that making Standard Time permanent would be a better choice. We tried this once before in the 1970s and folks didn’t like it.

Portable electric vehicle chargers will be ready for customers next year. The chargers can give electric vehicles a boost of 20-40 extra miles, which could be helpful for folks who need that extra slack to make it to a proper charging station.


  • 12 Comments

    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Good luck this week

      11 |
      • TraceContributor brownfox-ff

        A sleeping bag is a great suggestion, especially outside the home. For example if you’re stranded in a car the difference between being in a sleeping bag and being covered by a blanket is huge. I highly recommend keeping at least 1 sleeping bag in each vehicle.

        Another viable option is the Life Bivy. It’s essentially a heavy duty space blanket sewn together to form a bag that you climb into. Compressed it fits in the palm of your hand, and opened up it’s big (7’x3’). I keep 1 sleeping bag and 3 Life Bivys in each vehicle (there are 4 of us) — with the plan to use them in conjunction with a military poncho liners. They are not a long term use option, but you could use them several times if needed (and they’d be easily fixed with duct tape in case of a tear).

        11 |
    • brownfox-ffContributor

      In uplifting news, a study using therapy dogs in an emergency room setting claims that time and attention from a dog is officially therapeutic.

      It’s to see science confirming what many humans have known for a long time.

      15 |
    • TraceContributor

      I can’t corroborate the 10 million number. I see the Telegraph article saying 10 million refugees, though I can’t follow up on that because the Telegraph is behind a paywall. The article you’ve linked says 3.5 million, and that’s what I’m seeing in other sources also. The entire country’s population is 44 million… (Not saying that 3.5 million refugees isn’t insane though.)

      4 |
      • Carlotta SusannaStaff Trace

        There are various sources that mention 10 million (like the WaPo here). It seems that the difference is between ‘displaced’ and ‘refugee’. 10 million is the total number of people that have been displaced; 3.5 million is the number of refugees.

        6 |
      • TraceContributor Carlotta Susanna

        That makes sense. Numbers are tricky and can be referred to different ways (stats anyone??). Thanks for the clarification. 

        2 |
      • Eric Carlotta Susanna

        In this situation, the distinction between refugee and displaced is primarily whether they crossed the national border. Anyone who fled eastern Ukraine and took shelter in western Ukraine would be considered displaced but not a refugee.

        https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/

        2 |
      • Bill Masen Trace

        Hey Trace what I am rerading is 3.5 million plus have actually left the Ukraine itself, with another 7 million displaced internally. Mainly moving away from the fighting in the east

        2 |
    • Colorado Jones

      Thanks to linking to the article on the 1970s failed permanent DST experiment, Stephanie!  While things are different in the 2020s and we may well get different results with permanent DST this time around, I have found it a bit frustrating that most of the discourse overlooks or is simply oblivious to the fact that we HAVE DONE this before.  Historical amnesia is generally not a good thing . . . 

      11 |
    • Hardened

      > Portable electric vehicle chargers will be ready for customers next year. The chargers can give electric vehicles a boost of 20-40 extra miles, which could be helpful for folks who need that extra slack to make it to a proper charging station.

      From the article: “This Portable EV Charger is a Game-Changer For Drivers Who Need to Plug-in”

      I’m one of those drivers; allow me to translate for you.  They want me to pay $65/month for the equivalent of a 1 gallon gas can.  No thank you.

      3 |
      • MainPugh Hardened

        I don’t own an electric car but this made me think: what do you do if you’re stranded without power in an electric car? With a normal gasoline car there’s a chance someone might have spare fule in their car and share, or you could get to a gas station and fill in a spare canister. but with an electric car? Can you call the AAA  and they come and recharge you? Just thinking aloud.

        4 |
      • Hardened MainPugh

        It’s a good question and I can share my experience. I own a Tesla. If I’m just driving locally around town I never think about charging because every time I leave my house the car is fully charged. If I’m on a road trip then I tell the car where I’m going and it does a pretty good job of estimating how much charge I’ll have left when I arrive. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough that I’m never surprised by not having enough charge.

        When I need to recharge I have several options. My first choice is to use a Tesla charger. Tesla created a fantastic network of chargers all over the US.  I’ve driven from the northeast to the south to the southeast and there’s always been a Tesla charger when I needed one. The car tells me in real time if any of the Tesla chargers are out of service so I’m not surprised by one being unavailable when I arrive.

        If I wasn’t able to find a Tesla charger (hasn’t happened yet) then I could use the PlugShare app on my phone to find non-Tesla chargers nearby. They generally take longer to charge than the Tesla chargers do so this is plan B.

        If that fails then I can look for an RV park. I have adapters for both 30 and 50 amp outlets at RV parks and I’ve charged my car using this option a lot (while camping in them).

        If that fails then I’ve got a 25′ extension cord and I can plug it into any electrical outlet in the country.  This option takes the longest to charge but there’s electricity everywhere!

        If I somehow bungle all of that then I can call a tow truck to tow me to a charging station.

        Something that’s interesting to note is that people wonder what would happen if there’s an accident or a traffic jam and I’m stuck in stop-and-go traffic for an unpredictable amount of time. This is the worst case scenario for a gasoline car (it would consume a lot of gas) but the best case scenario for an electric car. Electric cars consume the most electricity at freeway speeds so if I’m running low before arriving at my destination I’ll slow down a few miles per hour to conserve energy.

        7 |