head-spinning energy bills this winter ratcheted up this week after Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, declared it would not resume the flow of natural gas through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline until Europe lifted Ukraine-related sanctions.

Daily average electricity prices in Western Europe have reached record levels, according to Rystad Energy, surging past 600 euros ($599) per megawatt-hour in Germany and €700 in France, with peak-hour rates as high as €1,500.

In the Czech Republic, roughly 70,000 angry protesters, many with links to far-right groups, gathered in Wenceslas Square in Prague this past weekend to demonstrate against soaring energy bills.

The German, French and Finnish governments have already stepped in to save domestic power companies from bankruptcy. Even so, Uniper, which is based in Germany and one of Europe’s largest natural gas buyers and suppliers, said last week that it was losing more than €100 million a day because of the rise in prices.

International Monetary Fund this week to issue a proposal to reform the European Union’s framework for government public spending and deficits.

caps blunt the incentive to reduce energy consumption — the chief goal in a world of shortages.

Central banks in the West are expected to keep raising interest rates to make borrowing more expensive and force down inflation. On Thursday, the European Central Bank raised interest rates by three-quarters of a point, matching its biggest increase ever. The U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to do the same when it meets this month. The Bank of England has taken a similar position.

The worry is that the vigorous push to bring down prices will plunge economies into recessions. Higher interest rates alone won’t bring down the price of oil and gas — except by crashing economies so much that demand is severely reduced. Many analysts are already predicting a recession in Germany, Italy and the rest of the eurozone before the end of the year. For poor and emerging countries, higher interest rates mean more debt and less money to spend on the most vulnerable.

“I think we’re living through the biggest development disaster in history, with more people being pushed more quickly into dire poverty than has every happened before,” said Mr. Goldin, the Oxford professor. “It’s a particularly perilous time for the world economy.”

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California Heat Threatens Agriculture With Eighth Day Of Triple Digits

California’s continued triple-digit temperatures are causing farmers to struggle to stay afloat, as others deal with a strained power grid.

The West’s extreme heat, now stretching into a second week, is straining American agriculture. It’s now threatening supplies of crops and livestock.

As triple-digit temperatures sear the southwestern desert, locals are trying to stay comfortable — but farmers are trying to stay afloat.

Colorado farmer Sasha Smith was already feeling the pressure before the most recent heatwave. 

“When you’re reliant on the weather, you don’t have a choice,” Smith said. “You have to adapt. You have to change to be successful and to be able to get things out and ready to sell.”

Danny Munch is an economist with the American Farm Bureau. 

“On top of all the other inflationary pressures, operating expenses, high fertilizer prices, high fuel prices — this is just another thing on the docket that our farmers and ranchers are facing,” Munch said. “Forage quality going down means that the market weight of their animals is lower, so they’re making less money off the animals that they are selling.”

He says this heatwave will have a lasting impact down the road.

“A lot of our berries come from California, so drought, removal of those orchards or just continued heat pressures is gonna reduce the supply we have here and increase those localized prices for consumers,” Munch said.

Now it’s an immediate threat to people. A hiker, Dr. Evan Dishion, died Monday after hiking with friends and getting lost in the heat in Arizona.

His wife spoke to Newsy’s sister station in Phoenix.

“He was really thoughtful and self-reflective and intelligent, and he just wanted to help people,” Amy Dishion said. “It’s not worth it. He didn’t want to leave me and Chloe, and I don’t want other people to leave behind people that they love just to go on a hike.”

Leaders and medical workers across the West are trying to save others from the same devastation, as power grids strain to keep the air conditioning running.

On the Nevada-Arizona border, hurricane-force winds brought down 100 power poles, stranding thousands without power in the sweltering heat.

“It was so vicious that we couldn’t even see our neighbor across the street,” said Stephen Durrett, who is without power. “When the electric goes, everything goes.”

It will be days more for the hundreds still in the dark.

In southern California, it’s an eighth straight day of triple digits.

Contractor Shaun Clifton and his team are trying to manage their work outdoors.

“We take a break, and at the end of the day, we make sure the cooler is full of beer,” Clifton said.

It’s a routine many will have to get used to in the West as extreme heatwaves get more common in long-term forecasts and change many everyday things, from outdoor work and play to farming. 

“Taking a proactive approach for a lot of our water management organizations could buffer some of the issues we’re facing just with a mindset change,” Munch said.

Source: newsy.com

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Southwest China Quake Leaves At Least 21 People Dead

By Associated Press
September 5, 2022

The 6.8 magnitude earthquake triggered landslides in the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.

At least 21 people were reported killed in a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that shook China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the provincial capital of Chengdu, whose 21 million residents are already under a COVID-19 lockdown.

The temblor struck a mountainous area in Luding county shortly after noon, the China Earthquake Networks Center said.

Sichuan, which sits on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau where tectonic plates meet, is regularly hit by earthquakes. Two quakes in June killed at least four people.

Along with the deaths, authorities reported stones and soil falling from mountainsides, causing damage to homes and power interruptions, state broadcaster CCTV said. One landslide blocked a rural highway, leaving it strewn with rocks, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Buildings shook in Chengdu, 125 miles away from the epicenter. Resident Jiang Danli said she hid under a desk for five minutes in her 31st floor apartment. Many of her neighbors rushed downstairs, wary of aftershocks.

“There was a strong earthquake in June, but it wasn’t very scary. This time I was really scared, because I live on a high floor and the shaking made me dizzy,” she told The Associated Press.

The earthquake and lockdown follow a heat wave and drought that led to water shortages and power cuts due to Sichuan’s reliance on hydropower. That comes on top of the latest major lockdown under China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

The past two months in Chengdu “have been weird,” Jiang said.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 6.6 for Monday’s quake at a relatively shallow depth of 6 miles. Preliminary measurements by different agencies often differ slightly.

China’s deadliest earthquake in recent years was a 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that killed nearly 90,000 people in Sichuan. The quake devastated towns, schools and rural communities outside Chengdu, leading to a yearslong effort to rebuild with more resistant materials.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Sheriff: 2 Dead In Northern California Wildfire

The blaze hadn’t expanded since Saturday morning, covering about 6.6 square miles with a 25% containment. But it grew in size on Sunday.

Two people have died in a blaze that ripped through a Northern California town, said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue.

LaRue shared the news of the fatalities Sunday afternoon during a community meeting held at an elementary school north of Weed, the rural Northern California community charred by one of California’s latest wildfires. He did not immediately provide names or other details including age or gender of the two people who died.

“There’s no easy way of putting it,” he said before calling for a moment of silence.

Both LaRue and other officials acknowledged uncertainties facing the community, such as when people would be allowed back into their homes and power would be restored. About 1,000 people were still under evacuation orders Sunday as firefighters worked to contain the blaze that had sparked out of control Friday at the start of the holiday weekend.

The blaze, known as the Mill Fire, hadn’t expanded since Saturday morning, covering about 6.6 square miles with 25% containment, according to Cal Fire. But the nearby Mountain Fire grew in size on Sunday, officials said. It also started Friday, though in a less populated area. More than 300 people were under evacuation orders.

Power outages, smoky skies and uncertainty about what the day would bring left a feeling of emptiness around the town of Weed the morning after evacuation orders were lifted for thousands of other residents.

“It’s eerily quiet,” said Susan Tavalero, a city councilor who was driving to a meeting with fire officials.

She was joined by Mayor Kim Greene, and the two hoped to get more details on how many homes had been lost. A total of 132 structures were destroyed or damaged, fire officials said Sunday, though it wasn’t clear whether they were homes, businesses, or other buildings.

Three people were injured, according to Cal Fire, but no other details were available. Two people were brought to Mercy Medical Center Mount Shasta, Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit Chief Phil Anzo said Saturday. One was in stable condition and the other was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, which has a burn unit. It’s unclear if these injuries were related to the deaths reported Sunday.

Weed, home to fewer than 3,000 people about 280 miles northeast of San Francisco, has long been seen by passersby as a whimsical spot to stop along Interstate 5. But the town, nestled in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, is no stranger to wildfires.

Phil Anzo, Cal Fire’s Siskiyou Unit Chief, acknowledged the toll fires have taken on the rural region in recent years.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen lots of fires in this community, we’ve seen lots of fires in this county, and we’ve suffered lots of devastation,” Anzo said.

Dominique Mathes, 37, said he’s had some close calls with wildfires since he has lived in Weed. Though fire dangers are becoming more frequent, he’s not interested in leaving.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said. “Everybody has risks everywhere, like Florida’s got hurricanes and floods, Louisiana has got tornadoes and all that stuff. So, it happens everywhere. Unfortunately here, it’s fires.”

The winds make Weed and the surrounding area a perilous place for wildfires, whipping small flames into a frenzy. Weed has seen three major fires since 2014, a period of extreme drought that has prompted the largest and most destructive fires in California history.

That drought persists as California heads into what traditionally is the worst of the fire season. Scientists say climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Crews battled flames while much of the state baked in a Labor Day weekend heat wave, with temperatures expected to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Los Angeles, exceptionally warm weather for Southern California. Temperatures were expected to be even hotter through the Central Valley up to the capital of Sacramento.

The California Independent System Operator issued its fifth “flex alert,” a plea for people to use their air conditioners and other appliances sparingly from 4 to 9 p.m. to protect the power grid.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Inflation Tightens Its Grip on Europe

At the Saku beer factory in Estonia, the mammoth copper brew kettles sit side by side like household sink plungers stored on a shelf in a manor house for giants. The brewery has been around for 200 years, but this is the first time in memory that the company has planned two price rises — of 10 percent each — in a single year.

And even that double-barreled increase won’t be enough to cover the brewery’s skyrocketing costs, said Jaan Harms, a board member at Saku.

“We are in an environment of increasing inflation, and, of course, energy is by far the main driver,” Mr. Harms said. When its energy contracts run out at the end of the summer, the company’s gas costs will rise 400 percent and the electricity bills will double, he said. And because the providers of every product and service they buy are also dealing with soaring fuel prices, those costs are rising as well.

estimates released Wednesday by the European Commission’s statistical office.

3 percent — a level that at the time set off alarms for reaching a decade-long high, but that would now be greeted with relief.

European Central Bank is scheduled to meet, is likely to reinforce the view that interest rates need to be raised again to curb inflation, despite the risk of recession.

Speaking at an economic summit near Jackson, Wyo., over the weekend, Isabel Schnabel, a member of the bank’s executive board, warned that inflation was more persistent than expected and said the bank needed to act “forcefully.”

“Inflation volatility has surged beyond the levels seen during the 1970s,” Ms. Schnabel said, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change that is causing widespread drought, wildfires and other extreme weather.

nearly double in October, making it difficult for millions of people to heat their homes this winter.

inflation hit 8.5 percent in July, still high but a decline from the 9.1 percent registered in June as prices for gas, airfares, used cars and hotel rooms fell.

agreement with the European Union to temporarily cap electricity prices at €40 per megawatt-hour. Professors at the Instituto Superior de Engenharia in Lisbon and at Complutense University in Madrid calculated that prices were 15 to 18 percent lower than they would have been without the cap.

Elsewhere in Europe, prices for electricity in August set eye-popping records, according to Rystad Energy, a consultancy in Norway, with an average price of €547 per megawatt-hour.

glass bottles from its Russian supplier after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Since then, wholesale bottle prices have shot up 20 to 80 percent.

solar panels atop its warehouses and brewery this summer, and it now boasts the country’s largest industrial rooftop solar park. In addition, the thermostats in offices will be lowered by 2 degrees this winter.

The energy crisis has also spurred the brewery to reconsider a proposal it had shelved as too expensive: the construction of a water treatment plant. The energy savings previously were not large enough to justify the cost. “But we are now thinking of doing this because the rules of the game have changed so much,” Mr. Harms said.

Saku’s initial price increase has gone through, but so far, there has not been a drop in sales. Summer vacation is prime season, Mr. Harms said, and when the weather is warm in this northern European country, people spend and drink.

But like the rest of Europe, Estonia is preparing for a dark winter.

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Inflation Hits Record 9.1% In Countries Using The Euro

By Associated Press
August 31, 2022

In the 19 countries using the euro currency, inflation rose 0.2% from a record high 8.9% in July, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation in the European countries using the euro currency hit another record in August, fueled by soaring energy prices mainly driven by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Annual inflation in the eurozone’s 19 countries rose to 9.1%, up from 8.9% in July, according to the latest figures released Wednesday by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat.

Inflation is at the highest levels since record-keeping for the euro began in 1997. The latest figures add pressure on European Central Bank officials to continue raising interest rates, which can tame inflation, but also stifle economic growth.

Prices are rising in many other countries as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, triggering unprecedented increases for energy and food that are squeezing household finances. Disruptions to global manufacturing supply chains caused by the coronavirus pandemic have also played a role in pushing up prices. This summer has seen a wave of protests and strikes around the world by workers pushing for higher wages and people fed up with the high cost of living.

Inflation in Britain, Denmark and Norway, which have their own currencies, is also surging, according to official data released earlier this month. U.K. residents face an 80% jump in annual household energy bills, regulators warned last week.

Inflation is also high in the U.S., adding urgency for the Fed to keep raising interest rates. Prices were up 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, thought that was lower than 9.1% in June.

In the eurozone, energy prices surged 38.3%, though the rate was slightly lower than the previous month, while food prices rose at a faster pace of 10.6%, according to Eurostat’s preliminary estimate. The agency’s final report, released about two weeks later, is usually unchanged.

Russia, a major energy producer, has been reducing the flow of gas to European countries that have sided with Ukraine in the war, a move that’s wreaked havoc with prices.

At the same time, nearly half of Europe has been afflicted by an unprecedented drought that’s hurting farm economies, crimping production of staple crops like corn, and driving up food prices.

Price rises for manufactured goods like clothing, appliances, cars, computers and books accelerated to 5%, and the cost of services rose 3.8%. The euro’s weakness is another factor keeping prices high. 

The currency has slipped below parity with the dollar, which can make imported goods more costly, particularly oil, which is priced in dollars.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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