- US inflation rose to new 41-year highs in June—but gas prices have already started falling
- The UK could reach 40 C this weekend—the highest temperature ever recorded
- There’s a chance an agreement to free up grain exports in Ukraine will be reached next week
Economy, food security, supply chain
US inflation rose to 9.1% in June, a new 41-year high. High rents, gas, and food prices were the main culprits. The Fed should continue to raise interest rates unless inflation decreases soon, which could slow the economy and put the US at risk of recession:
Because of June’s higher-than-expected jump, seniors will likely receive a 10.5% adjustment to their Social Security checks in early 2023.
Since their peak in June, gas prices have fallen sharply. Gas prices have fallen 28 days in a row, the longest decline since energy demand collapsed in early 2020. The trend could quickly reverse, especially if a hurricane knocks out a refinery on the Gulf Coast since global oil supplies remain relatively tight. The nation’s inventories are slowly growing, partly because the government keeps releasing oil from its strategic reserves, and consumption is down.
GPU prices and shipping container rates are also falling:
Hopeful sign. pic.twitter.com/EzLDRPA8Ne
— David Andolfatto (@dandolfa) June 27, 2022
Some observers think that our current situation is bizarre:
It’s honestly a very wild moment for Econ, because GDP growth was/is negative and inflation is super high, but consumer spending is strong, U3 and U6 are near historic lows, and the jobs reports keep being very good.
Nobody seems to know what to call this.
— Neoliberal 🌐🇺🇦 (@ne0liberal) July 13, 2022
Explainer: Why is the US selling stockpiled oil to China? In short: the US government sells assets at the highest price possible, and sometimes US companies can’t handle more oil when the sale is held, so foreign companies buy it. The oil market operates on a global level. Lower prices are the results of changes to supply and demand on a global basis, not just in the US.
The US might get 24% of its energy from renewables in 2023:
We expect #renewableenergy to provide 24% of U.S. electricity generation in 2023, up from 20% in 2021.
— EIA (@EIAgov) July 12, 2022
Sales of electric cars in the US are rising sharply despite shortages. From April through June, electric vehicles accounted for 5.6% of new-car sales, a 2x increase from the previous year.
The UN says talks to free up grain exports from Ukraine are moving forward. There’s a chance they might have an agreement signed up next week.
Climate change, environment, extreme weather
The UK could experience temperatures as high as 40 C (104 F)—peaking Mon-Tue. If temps break 40 C, it will be the hottest it has ever been recorded in the UK. Temperatures will keep as high as 20 C (68 F) overnight, especially in urban areas. Water, electricity, and travel disruptions are expected, and officials warn of heat exhaustion or the potential for a wet bulb effect. The UK is more likely to see prolonged periods of hot weather due to climate change.
France, Portugal, and Spain are battling wildfires:
France and the Iberian peninsula are struggling to contain wildfires while the UK is bracing itself for temperatures to hit a record 40 degrees Celsius. Climate change has been cited as the cause. pic.twitter.com/1CdIJhym7S
— DW News (@dwnews) July 14, 2022
Temperature forecasts in China also exceeded 40 C (104 F). During the heat wave, people sought cool air in air-raid shelters underground as roofs melted and roads buckled. Health workers conducting outdoor Covid tests strapped packets of frozen snacks to their hazmat suits.
Flash floods in Virginia damaged and destroyed 100 houses, collapsed one bridge, created mudslides that blocked roads, knocked out power, and left people without phone service. In some places, the flood left 1-2 ft of mud. There are no reports of death and the only reported injury was from a snake bite (!). Virginia’s governor has declared a state of emergency.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon hit a tragic record in 2022. Satellite images taken between January and June show 4,000 sq km (1,500 sq m) of forest destroyed, about four times the size of New York City. The area is 80% larger than the same period in 2018, the year before Bolsonaro took office, according to an analysis from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM).
Climate change is forcing massive wildlife migrations toward the poles. Every organism has been affected. Life on Earth is moving away from the equator by 16 feet a day. Land-dwelling organisms retreat by 10 miles a decade, while ocean-dwelling ones migrate 45 miles. One of the consequences could be an increase in virus swapping between species (i.e., new diseases for us humans and the animals we raise for food).
Companies face climate opposition from farmers. Companies like PepsiCo, Cargill, Walmart, and General Mills are trying to convince farmers to adopt climate-friendly farming techniques. Together, these companies have committed to regenerative agriculture on at least 70 million acres or roughly 18% of the country’s cropland. Farmers are skeptical of the initiatives, saying the incentives aren’t enough to cover the additional costs these new techniques will incur. According to a scientist, the current agricultural system isn’t flexible enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly.
Opinion: A case for retreat in the age of fire. Wildfires are getting bigger, more frequent, and more severe in the American West. Although fire-adapted communities are being developed, some communities will need to start planning retreats. According to the authors, there’s no way to design our way out of wildfires.
Some interesting stats from the 2022 UN Population Prospects:
- The world population will pass 8 billion at the end of 2022 (although global fertility rates are declining). The global population is projected to peak at around 10.4 billion in 2086.
- The UN estimates around 15 million excess deaths in 2020 and 2021 from the Covid pandemic (and, in another study, 1 in 8 US deaths from 2020 to 2021 were caused by Covid).
- Next year India is expected to take over from China as the world’s most populous country.
Heathrow will be limiting passenger traffic to just 100,000 departures per day until September 11 due to staff shortages and a surge in travel.
The Odessa water outage underscores a growing problem: Aging pipes in Texas cities are getting more fragile.
Expert on civil wars says the US is heading toward insurgency — the 21st-century version of civil war.
Meta: What the controversial 1972 ‘Limits to Growth’ report got right: Our choices today shape future conditions for life on Earth.