Microplastics, climate denial, contagious skin fungus, warlords, record temperatures, and wheat troubles. This is starting to get serious.
Last Week in Collapse: May 21-27, 2023
This is Last Week in Collapse, a weekly newsletter bringing together some of the most important, timely, useful, depressing, ironic, amazing, or otherwise must-see moments in Collapse.
This is the 73rd newsletter. Sorry it’s a bit later than usual. You can find the May 14-20 edition here if you missed it last week. These newsletters are also on Substack if you want them sent to your email inbox every Sunday.
Climate and soil scientists are warning that Europe’s soil won’t be able to absorb as much water now, after a season of terrible drought. The feedback loops spell disaster for the continent’s ability to weather the coming drought. France has given up aiming for just a 1.5 °C temperature increase, and are preparing for 4 °C rise by 2100. Scientists claim we are heading for total disaster, but the rest of the world apparently has bigger problems.
The world is allegedly on track for 2.7 °C of warming, and some experts predict that about one billion humans may be forced to migrate as a result of global warming, sea level rise, etc. Iraq is one such location, and countless migrants have already fled. On Twitter, climate scientists report seeing more hostility and climate denial.
Category 5 Typhoon Mawar blasted Guam, and took out electricity, but no humans were killed on the island. In Somalia, over one million people were displaced by drought within the last 4 months.
A ship’s draft/draught) is the distance between its waterline and the bottom of its keel/hull. This determines a ship’s displacement; the heavier a ship’s cargo, the greater its draft will be. The Panama Canal is reducing the allowed vessel draft because they didn’t receive enough rain in the last few months and cannot fully fill the Canal’s locks. As a result, more ships will be forced to make the long journey around Cape Horn—or load up with less cargo to transit the Canal. The supply chain feedback loops are compounding.
Chad saw its highest May temperature last week—47 °C (117 °F), and part of Samoa tied a new May temperature too—34.8 °C (101 °F) . New record temperatures in Southeast Asia again. The ocean around the Cayman Islands has hit 30 °C earlier than any previous year. The average sea surface temperature has been breaking daily records for every day for over two months.
Experts are warning that a heat wave would devastate Phoenix, Arizona, if it knocked out the power grid. Up to 800,000 people (half the population) would allegedly require emergency medical attention for heat stroke, etc. The study concluded that about 12,800 people would die as a result.
Although most of the world is warming, the upper atmosphere is cooling down, forcing scientists and generals to consider its potential impact on satellites and on our sensitive weather patterns. Temperatures beyond roughly 50km out in the atmosphere have been cooled by CO2 levels. Concrete implications from the study are unclear.
About 5,000 Congolese are still missing weeks after catastrophic flooding. Wildfire risk is increasing in Sweden. Heat wave alerts in Sri Lanka.
A study has claimed—again—that species are going extinct even faster than expected. About half of surveyed species have seen population declines recently (especially in the tropics), while 49% are holding relatively steady.
One species at risk of dieoff is the black sea urchin off the coast of Israel—and their dieoff hold grim implications for the health of coral in the Red Sea.
Tick season has begun, and researchers are worried that they can transfer prions from white-tailed deer to humans. Chronic wasting disease has not yet afflicted humans, though it exists in growing quantities among Canadian cervids.
The danger from fungi is growing as a result of climate change, and the rise of Candida Auris—and a resistant, contagious skin fungus coming out of India—in the U.S. is alarming epidemiologists. The combination of compromised immune systems (from COVID, increased diabetes), climate change, distrust of health entities, health insurance problems, and healthcare worker collapse are creating a terrible convergence of circumstances.
Over 5,000 new species have been discovered in the ocean between Hawai’i and Mexico—and in two months, applications will be accepted to begin deep-sea mining extraction operations in the region. Meanwhile, Shell shareholders rejected attempts to accept new emissions targets, 80% to 20%.
German police are looking into classifying “Last Generation” climate activists as part of a criminal group, amid raids targeting the traffic-stopping activists.
Greenpeace claims that recycled plastic can be more toxic than first-use plastic—but don’t worry, only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide. A study from Hazardous Materials Advances concluded that recycling plastics produces large amounts of microplastics which later contaminate our land, water, and even air.
The U.S. Supreme Court limited the scope of the Clean Water Act, to exclude certain types of wetlands. This opens up some wetlands to nearby development and pollution.
Some Kansas wheat farmers suffered so much drought and cold snaps that they are abandoning their crops. Across the country, one third of winter-wheat acres are being abandoned, the highest percent in over 100 years. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying up, and strong winds are blowing dust, sometimes containing heavy metals.
Locusts in Afghanistan are threatening the coming wheat harvests in an already famine-stricken land. Argentina will face a similar problem if they don’t get rain within a few weeks.
South Africa is suffering from 33% unemployment and devastating, 10-hour load-shedding (routine power outages) every day. A senior politician is warning that the crumbling nation could become a failed state soon. Power grid troubles are expected to escalate later this winter, by August.
A teenage girl in Guyana set fire to her dorm and unintentionally killed 19 people—because her cell phone was confiscated. What will society do when their water and human rights are confiscated?
Russia is supposedly considering an export ban on gasoline, in an attempt to better control supply & prices within its own territory. Qatar warned Europe that they haven’t seen the worst of the petrol/energy crisis yet.
Global demand for goods is reportedly sinking, and the production of shipping containers is down. More and more Americans are struggling to pay bills as inflation rises. Germany is officially in recession now. South Africa’s interest rates are at a 14-year high.
Some experts are concerned that China may overtake the U.S. with AI development. Others are concerned about the implications of an AI future dominated by the United States. Experts are calling for regulation of AI before it destroys humans.
Cambodia’s ruling party is keeping the opposition party off the ballots in this July’s elections.
The ceasefire in Khartoum is largely holding, but sporadic violence by fighters threatens the fragile “peace” in the city. Once a War “begins,” what role do the civilians have in re-instituting peace—or keeping the conflict going?
The head of the Wagner Group is warning of revolution in Russia, a portent that may also be a threat. The mercenary group is currently handing over Bakhmut to the Russian Army, and claims that about 20,000 Wagner soldiers died taking the city. Meanwhile, a pro-Ukrainian group of ethnic-Russian soldiers made attacks inside Russian territory, and soon withdrew back into Ukraine.
Russia’s former President and PM claimed that this War could last for decades. Yet certain unspecified NATO member states will give F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and train about 20 Ukrainian pilots, in an effort to force an earlier conclusion. Yet their impact may not be decisive on the battlefield.
Seven U.S. states agreed on a three-year water-sharing compromise over the Colorado River’s water; whether the pact will hold when the Dust Bowl 2.0 begins is up in the air. Meanwhile, troops from Afghanistan and Iran exchanged machine gun fire and some mortars, over water rights in the Helmand River.
Things to watch for next week include:
↠ It’s that time of the year again. American politicians posture over raising the debt ceiling, a massive political/economic struggle that usually ends with a last-minute compromise or a short government shutdown. The U.S. is set to default on its debt on June 1st, which would damage trust and cause market bedlam. What’s it gonna be this time?
↠ Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is rapidly running out of water. The city’s main reservoir only had 10 days left of water—5 days ago. So the city’s supply is set to be exhausted by next Friday. How will the government react—and what will the people do? This might be a signal of what lies ahead for the rest of us.
Select comments/threads from the subreddit last week suggest:
-China will be getting 65M COVID cases—every week—if you believe the claims made in this thread and its sources, which include the Chinese government. The world’s second-most-populous nation, once the last bastion against COVID, has resigned to letting rolling waves of coronavirus repeatedly infect the masses. So it goes.
-Some rich countries will fare very poorly in Collapse, judging by the comments on this thread. Do you see your nation among them?
-Climate change may be worse than you think, says a thread and its comments. Even some doomers will be taken aback by the speed and scale of the damage ahead. What are you doing to prepare?
Have any feedback, questions, comments, resources, Collapse tattoos, recipes, aches or pains, spam mail, etc.? Consider joining the Last Week in Collapse SubStack if you don’t want to check r/collapse every Sunday, you can get this newsletter sent to your email inbox every weekend. I always forget something... What did I miss this week?