News roundup for Tue, Oct 12, 2021

Xi says China is going to unify with Taiwan, adding that he wants a peaceful reunification. Taiwan is not on board with this sentiment.

Solar prices are still dropping and solar utilization continues to grow. Some good news among the pounding of the scarcity drums. California and Texas are leading the solar charge in the US. Solar-powered desalination technology is also a reality now, though very small in scale. That technology is also likely to grow in demand and use over time.

As California’s aquifers run low, farms are feeling the squeeze. New laws are restricting access to the increasingly limited water supply.

You might have seen the Augason Farms supply chain letter floating around social media. Check out our forum thread on the issue: the letter is real, but their “shutdown” is just for wholesale distributors.

Lebanon, the entire country, was without power for about 24 hours due to lack of fuel for the country’s power plants:

A staggering amount of shoplifting is contributing to bare store shelves.

CNN has arrived at the same conclusion we have about scarcity—it’s going to persist for a while:

Southwest Airlines is struggling to get its planes where they need to go amid a vaccine-related staffing shortage:

An M-class solar flare has arrived, but it’s pretty mild. There will be some radio interference and it will impact high elevations more than lower elevations:

A lot of the nation’s critical infrastructure is subject to serious flood risk from climate change: roads, hospitals, water-treatment plants, fire stations, government buildings, etc.

The world has over 239 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3 million cases in the last week. There have been nearly 4.9 million deaths in total. The US has a cumulative 45.3 million cases. The US gained over 605,000 cases in the last seven days. Over 734,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. The US gained over 40,000 new cases on Sunday, and over 33,000 by late afternoon Monday. 1,400 people are dying per day in the US based on a 7-day average. The US, UK, Turkey, and Russia have had the largest case gains over the last week. Most COVID metrics remain on a downtrend in the US.

92% of active-duty military personnel have been vaccinated against COVID. Vaccine mandates appear to be making a difference.

Moderna is going to build a plant in Africa. Although it will take a few years to get up and running, it will (eventually) help address disparities in vaccine access once running:

Lots more companies are mandating vaccines:

Violent protests over COVID vaccines are still taking place around the globe:


    • Lindsey ⚜

      I always look forward to these updates. Thank you for such good work! 

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    • Ari Allyn-FeuerContributor

      The numbers on COVID-19 spread in the USA are extremely heartening right now, despite the ongoing high levels of cases and deaths, because they are falling so fast. Right now, only three states have rising numbers, and the estimate of nationwide R from the friendly folks over at has plunged all the way down to .84, which corresponds to a halving time of only sixteen days. This data includes time from several weeks of school being open in person.

      At this rate, if R just stays where it is, we will hit a pandemic-era low in cases some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and keep dropping from there.

      And there is, so far, still no sign of a successor strain to Delta. The latest data continues not to show any other variant threatening to spread more efficiently than Delta, which now makes up 99.9% of US cases. Remember Mu? Last week no laboratory in the USA sequenced any cases of Mu.

      And we’re about to have the power to make big strides toward pushing R down by boosting adults and vaccinating children, approvals for which are likely coming in just a few weeks. Vaccinating children, especially, will take a large percentage of the population that can still spread COVID-19 off the table, and a majority of parents say they intend to vaccinate their kids swiftly after approval.

      Right now there’s a little bit of a cargo cult thing going on in the media, where people take it as read that there will be another big surge this winter in the USA, because they overestimate the seasonality effect of COVID-19 (which appears to be pretty modest) and as a mindless imitation of the thing they have seen actual experts do, where you point to a chart and say “aha, a surge is coming.” They’re doing things like “with Delta, and kids going back to school, we’ll see a major surge,” not realizing that those things already happened and we’re not seeing a surge.

      But in reality, it appears far from clear there will be one. In fact, if we swiftly vaccinate the majority of children and boost the majority of vaccinated adults, and don’t see a major new strain, I’d say it’s probably impossible.

      There is a future. We can vaccinate everyone, kill the virus, and end the pandemic. And, although too slow and imperfectly, and with a portion of the population choosing to vaccinate themselves by getting COVID-19, that is what we are doing.

      It can’t happen fast enough.

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