Displaying items by tag: Climate Change
Climate change can be apolitical subject, and in today’s political climate, that means it’s a polarizing subject. Those on the far right say it isn’t happening. Those on the far left say the sky is falling. There isn’t much common ground.
We have seen the conversation change over time, however. Fewer people are outright denying that climate change is happening. People are transitioning from “it’s not real” to “it’s real, but it’s not man-made.” Alternatively, they are going from “it’s not real” to “it’s happened before, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”, I’m sure the latter is a dwindling number every year as the climate disasters unfold before our eyes. I'm sure it's a rude awakening for them.
Progress is progress either way, as is awareness. One thing we do see more of is the ever-growing link between “prepping” and climate activism. Now it’s not to be confused that even though we are the “Preparedness Project” we aren’t exactly “Preppers” ourselves. While many of us have bush craft, woodsmen (or women) experience, avid hiking, camping and even hunting we’ve never put this project out there as a “Prepping” group but rather Preparedness in the since of awareness of the various challenges that humanity faces and banding together to make an impact.We do however have some basic survival information on our site HERE but I wouldn't go as far to call it "Prepping",We would be lying if we weren't taken by the off-grid movement and the romanticism it has.
As if it was a taboo, only talked about is whispers when you get down to the grass roots levels of true Green or Climate activists; I’ve found the most far-left climate activist shares quite a lot with his or her far-right counterpart that is usually associated with the fringe “survivalist” persons.
Ah the old idea of loners in the woods sitting on stockpiles of guns and ammo. Since then, “prepper” has become a household term with prepping becoming far more mainstream than it has ever been to the point freeze dried food can be purchased in everyday places you’re your average sub-urbanite’s Costco. We are now seeing more and more of your average person’s take interest in this education and life style perhaps due to the ever-increasing climate related disasters such as wildfires that have been wiping out whole townships. (Source here )
What will prepping for climate change look like?
In many ways, not that much different from prepping for anything else. A big part of prepping is preparing for natural disasters. Natural disasters and climate change go hand-in-hand.
According to NASA (They are also preparing for it on their own accord source here.) and what we already have researched here at the Preparedness Project, some of the effects of climate change on the United States will be:
Rising Temperatures – This will not be uniform across the country or over time.
Frost-free Growing Seasons Will Lengthen – Food-wise, this could be seen as a good thing, but read on.
More Droughts and Heat Waves – Just when you think the growing season will extend, heat waves and droughts will stress food security.
Hurricanes Will Become Stronger and More Intense – Storm intensity and rainfall from hurricanes will increase will require greater preparation for hurricanes.
Sea Levels Will Rise – Expect greater storm surges and higher tides. Don’t forget that warming oceans also impacts fishing.
The same as prepping for a recession requires different methods than prepping for civil unrest, prepping for climate change will require different methods as well. While climate change will require preparing for more hurricanes in certain areas, there are longer-term issues that will need to be addressed.
Here are a few:
Environmental Migration – There are already indications that climate change is driving mass migration around the globe. While North America may not face the type of migration problems that people in Bangladesh, Africa, Central America, and Australia might face, the people in these places will have to go somewhere when drought and famine strike. Their migration will cause political and economic challenges around the globe. How can you prepare for that as an individual? I don’t know.
Food Shortages – Erratic weather will wreak havoc on agriculture. Farmers will experience drought, then abnormally heavy rainfall, then drought, then hail, etc. Food prices will swing up and down. The household impact will be felt at the grocery store checkout.
Gardening – Preparing for this could, and should, include growing more food at home. That could mean anything from an herb garden off your deck to a full-size family survival garden. Gardening, and doing it well, requires knowledge and experience. You can’t just go and plant a garden expecting results. Good soil often takes years to produce. Knowing how to prevent pests and crop disease also takes experience. That’s not even covering seed saving.
Preserving Food – If you’re growing your own food, you will eventually graduate to producing food that will take you through winter. That means not only growing more but preserving it. Buy a copy of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and learn how to can. Maybe you will build a root cellar and/or dry storage.
Stocking Up – Remember that what hits farms will also hit you, so your garden could be subject to the same erratic weather. Stocking up on non-perishables is a basic tenet of prepping. For climate change, you will want to do more of that. Take advantage of sales. Stock a pantry and rotate stock. When there are shortages and prices are high, you can use the stock you already have.
Finances – Having your financial house in order makes sense on every level, and it also applies here. Energy may cost more. Homeowner’s insurance may cost more. Food may cost more. And, depending on where you live, you may also be face with…
Moving – Some people are already experiencing the urge to flee (think people in California who are under a near-constant threat of wildfires). People living along the coast may also be finding an urge to move inland. More and more people will be wondering where to escape climate change in North American and the West as whole. Real estate prices will decline in some places, rise in others. However on this and I’ll site my previous article on the effects of the pandemic it seems that fear from that has only created one of if not the largest real-estate bubbles in the world right here in Canada.If you are not wedded to a particular area, or your kids/grandkids are wondering where to live, getting ahead of the population move may be wise.
I think the “Prepping” movement gets its shade from the old ideals of the militia-man (or woman!), the “Lone-wolf”. Ask many of the You-Tube famous “Preppers” and they’ll tell you this idea that we as individuals will be able to get through all disruptions caused by climate change by simply growing/storing extra food and buying guns/fortifying our properties is foolish.
What we need to do is form stronger communities - especially if you're into self-sufficiency and not relying on supply chains/government assistance in times of crisis. It's virtually impossible for one or two people to have all the skills needed - sewing/mending, farming, food preservation, mechanic, electrician, plumber, round the clock security, medical, animal husbandry, etc., etc... It's going to be very difficult, but it's something that we are going to have to grapple with. It truly “takes a village”.
Regardless of how you feel about “Prepping” it can certainly go part and parcel with basic emergency measures that we should all practice at home for any emergency big or small.
One way or another, we all prep for one thing really, which is significant hardship. I highly recommend reading “The Uninhabitable Earth”. It's great, in a scary, bleak, scientifically supported way or "How to prepare for climate change" a book by David Pouge if you're interested in this subject.
I feel like the media has tried to sensationalize and politicize climate change to the point where just bringing up the topic causes people to immediately split into their cozy camps instead of doing what needs to be done, regardless of individual reasonings for doing it.
I find that everyone is too busy looking to be handed a gold star of social approval from their peers and to be given social credit for their opinions to be rational about it.
Prepping should decrease anxiety, not increase it.
You can inspire hope and not dread. You can get involved politically if you are so inclined. You can speak to groups of people like ours and get them introduced to prepping. These things you do have control over and this can make a direct impact on people you know and love in real ways.
I believe we all are “preppers”, knowingly or not.
I'm curious to see what you believe. Do you think that "Preppers" are to be socially ousted, are they dangerous? , and if not why and what can you give us insight on how you may be prepping your self? Most importantly would you like to see us discuss this topic more? Join the conversation at our Facebook Group at : ThePreparednessProject2018 FB community
- S.M. Jenkins
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“The environment and the fight for the world’s poor are inherently linked." Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur, said in 2019.
Climate change looms over all countries, promising severe droughts, supercharged storms, and blistering heat waves. Above all, they threaten the most vulnerable populations across the globe. Climate change is going to amplify the already existing divide between those who have resources and those who do not. Those whom are rich and those whom are poor. As global temperatures and sea levels rise, as the oceans acidify and precipitation patterns get rearranged, people living in poverty are the most severely impacted.
Since climate change affects everything from where a person can live to their access to health care, millions of people could be plunged further into poverty as environmental conditions worsen. We often talk about how climate change exacerbates social and economic inequality, but rarely do we consider the opposite: that inequality itself can be a driver of climate change.
This key topic that is still overlooked is how environmental degradation and climate change are themselves the toxic by-products of our inequality problem. In the past decade we just weren’t comfortable talking about the way inequality functions in our society, which has changed since the global financial crisis and further the recent COVID-19 Pandemic. For example, the 2008 crash showed that severe inequality creates a more fragile economic system and that the global elite hold enormous political power. People assume that raising incomes will increase personal consumption and, as a result, also increase carbon emissions, which would do little to alleviate climate change, but there are so many more mechanisms at play, including how power disparities hobble communities from protecting, for example, their air or their water. To protect the environment, we need good jobs, we need a fair and even solid tax base, we need a good healthcare system, and we need fair criminal justice. However, an old piece of advice I was given long ago of “fairness is irrelevant” seems truer today than when it was given to me. inequality belongs at the center of our national conversation about climate change.
I think people — particularly people who care about the environment and economic injustice — need to learn about it, and incorporate it into their analysis. To get the word out and get people thinking and talking about the fact that inequality drives environmental harm. Many researchers have examined this question, based largely on the observation that a dollar spent at higher income levels is in some countries less energy intensive than at lower income levels. That is, rich people, though they consume much more in total, spend additional income on services or can afford efficient goods, while those in the lower classes are limited to buying more energy-intensive goods.
A great example would be the comparison of an EV and its “conventional” Petrol Counterpart. EV aficionados will tell you that electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel and maintain, so that means they must be cheaper to own and operate. EV skeptics will counter with the premium pricing of many EVs, something that's quantifiable when a brand sells both a gas-powered and full EV version of the same vehicle. Upon review we find mere differences in three-year cost analysis of differences of well under five-hundred dollars in comparison to equal models by the same manufacturer; I.E. Mini Hardtop petrol vs Mini EV, Hyundai Kona Petrol vs the EV model and so on.
Sounds great right? What’s five hundred dollars when we are talking about a median price tag of around forty thousand.
What these studies do not consider that these are new cars and new cars are driving out of reach for the working class and poverty classed people of the world. Now, amid stagnant wages and a shaky recovery, the average new car price rose last year by $1,536 USD, and the gap is growing monthly here in North America. The working class North American can only afford used cars. One might only say it’s just a car but it’s a life line for the working class, it’s not just a point A to point B but a means to keep a job. Dealerships point out that car loans are much smaller than home loans, decreasing risk. And when forced to choose, buyers may skip the payment on their house. But they won't miss the one on their car, you got to get to work. You got to eat.
More than 7 million North Americans are already 90 or more days behind on their car loans and serious delinquency rates among borrowers with the lowest credit scores have by far seen the fastest acceleration. Poorer North Americans are stretched so thin they cannot afford to pay more. They just don’t have any flexibility to increase their payment. It’s also to be noted that yes there are very intrusive high interest car loan programs aimed at the working class and poor but many of these financiers aren’t offering EV’s but rather former rental units that have hit their mileage mark with these businesses. These vehicles will usually be the run of the mill conventional petroleum vehicle and those that cannot opt for this financially will opt for a much older and not environmentally efficient vehicle courtesy of their local classifieds.
Jayden Smith / Celebrity Tesla Influencer
This isn’t also to ignore another gleaming problem the adverts and social media sell dreams to us that appear to be just within reach, drive this car, wear this jewellery or these shoes to win respect. An ideal sold of you don’t have to be rich to live rich, you don’t have to be a winner to look like you’ve won. Combine that with a lack of financial education or even basic health warnings about debt and your left with the consumer arriving to the end of the month and discovers they have no money left in their checking account, they’ve spent every cent they have and wonder how on earth they’re supposed to save for their retirement or their kids’ education. This is a social problem on its own, and oddly enough I’m observing more Tesla’s on my daughters Tik Tok feed then the common place high performance and sexy super cars of the day. It’s cool to own a Tesla now and perhaps this is a good trend but the point is still the same: The average working-class person cannot afford them and this inequality inadvertently drives the increase in carbon foot print.
Meanwhile, one new study found that by 2030, the carbon footprints of the richest one per cent are expected to reach 30 times the level compatible with the 2015 Paris Agreement.
600 Million Dollar Mega-Yacht (Source : Here)
The author of that report says it's not just the space tourism that Bezos and other billionaires have been promoting that's leading to higher emissions. "It's the private jets, it's the mega yachts, it's the multiple homes — all of this stuff comes with a massive carbon footprint," said Tim Gore of the Institute for European Environmental Policy. "The idea that these are the people we need to listen to understand how to tackle the climate crisis is really bonkers,".
So what’s the point? people with power and money have always been able to escape peril since the dawn of man.But we are now to be a more benevolent society or at least that’s what we sell to each other and this well-developed thirty seven year old communication method we call the internet should allow us to come together and solve these issues before it “eats the poor”. I would hazard to guess with all sarcasm intended that we’d be such a group to come together with…. Spoiler alert…. We are and we need you to make a difference.
I believe the point if you’ll excuse my long-winded read is that I don’t believe we can fully tackle climate change and our carbon issues until we tackle the inequality and poverty issues. You will not get the average working-class person to give pause and care to the crisis when they are faced with the more present personal crisis of living pay cheque to pay cheque or perhaps at worse an empty dinner plate and where that next meal may come from.
- S.M. Jenkins
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We've seen a lot of interest in electric trucks this past three years, especially package vans -- the Ford Transit Connect Electric, Internationals' e-Star, the Smith Newton, Freightliner Custom Chassis' MT45-EV. But did you know there were electric delivery trucks 100 years ago? We’ve had a recent Facebook group post on picture from 1917 displaying some of the M.R.C. fleet in London of Walker Electric trucks charging our discussion page HERE . This sparked some attention and discussion so let’s dive a little deeper.
Daimler, Tesla, Cummins and many other companies are all creating new electric trucks. Some of them will hit the market very soon and, as experts predict, the truck industry will be changed forever. However, none of these companies invented a battery-powered truck – they were already delivering milk and baked goods more than a hundred years ago.
Nothing new under the Sun…….
We now consider electric trucks to be transportation of the future, but in reality, the world has already seen electric trucks in the past. For example, Walker Electric Truck company in US in 1907-1942 was manufacturing rather popular little electric trucks. They were regarded as extremely reliable and tough, although quite slow. Modern electric trucks will be at least as quick as diesel-powered ones. But Walker trucks were not that fast at all. A Walker truck was powered by a 3.5 HP motor, drawing energy from 66-80-volt batteries, delivering a maximum of 40 amps. You don’t have to know anything about engineering to know that this is not a lot of power even for a small truck.
Walker trucks obviously could not reach a very high-top speeds – they maxed out at around 16-19 km/h. However, no one really complained about that sort of disadvantage back in 1910’s, especially since the truck had steel wheels with solid rubber tyres. The controls were simple: a large steering wheel, with the driver positioned high over the front wheels; two brake pedals either side of the steering wheel; and a lever speed control. Reverse is engaged by another foot lever. The bank of batteries sat in the middle of the truck halfway between the front and rear axles. The motor was located in the differential and the drive gears were in the wheels. By the way, batteries provided 80 km of range, this would have varied depending on load and road conditions. This range of operation was pretty much enough for daily operations at that period, they were charged every night anyway.
Walker Electric Truck company did not make semis – all of their models were conventional wagon-type transporters. The cargo compartment was customized to match client’s needs. It was not an aerodynamic masterpiece either – it was pretty much a wooden box on wheels and batteries between the axles. Not that it matters when you are driving that slow.
You may laugh at these specifications, but at the time they were pretty good. Don’t forget that these trucks were replacing horses and carriages. They were quicker, easier to maintain and could carry significantly heavier loads. Walker exported some of these electric trucks to Great Britain, Norway and New Zealand. In fact, it is said that electrical company Orion New Zealand Limited is using one Walker truck till this day, although it is more of a symbol than a tool.
With no gears, no clutch and simple stop-go operation but also supremely economical as the motor stops when the truck stops. Half the life of a gas truck is spent 'idling, ‘one reason they wear out more quickly, and at the time and in comparison, cost 50% to 100% more than Walkers per delivery, per mile or per day. These factors made electric vehicles popular with companies like Rail companies, US Postal Service, delivery, diary companies as well as bakeries and other small businesses. It is said that the famous chain Marshall Field & Company had 276 Walker trucks in 1925. However, eventually it all came to an end.
Without lithium Ion and modern semi-conductors’ electric cars were never viable and at this time it was nickel-iron batteries that Edison used had a specific energy of around 22 Wh/kg. Gasoline has a specific energy of 12778 Wh/kg. If we assume the combustion engine was only 5% efficient, which is wildly generous if we're trying to argue against gasoline, Even accounting for the added weight of the engine over an electric motor, gasoline, by weight, was 20-30 times more efficient than the battery technology of the time
One might say we’ve come full circle now that the technology has caught up with this invention. Tesla Motors paved the way by capturing the attention of consumers in North America and Europe. In June of 2016 it was the fourth anniversary of the first S Sedans rolling off the Fremont, CA production line and the S is now the best-selling EV in the world today. In the same month Nikola (pronounced Neek-oh-la) Motor Company Founder and CEO Trevor Milton announced that $2.3 billion in reservations have been generated in the first month, totaling more than 7,000 truck reservations with deposits. The company in the prior month that it will launch an electric class 8 semi-truck, dubbed “Nikola One.”. Since then Nikola Motor Company has been absorbed by Tesla Motors however the truck which has translated into the Tesla “Semi” is due for production at the end of this year. The initial production has been pushed back multiple times due to battery sourcing issues, however as the company ramped up high-volume production of its tabless 4680 batteries we’re promised that 2021 is the year. The “Semi” would have a 500 miles (805 km) range on a full charge and with its new batteries it would be able to run for 400 miles (640 km) after an 80% charge in 30 minutes using a solar-powered "Tesla Mega charger"
Many large companies aren’t waiting for Tesla and going with other electric truck test beds, one example is that Coca Cola has been testing their Refrigerated Electric Powered delivery vans: Green goes better with Coke, as seen through the Company’s ongoing advertising efforts to deliver their products via six all-electric, zero-emissions trucks built by eStar. These electric vehicles will join Coca-Cola’s growing fleet of 750 heavy-duty, alternative fuel vehicles, taking the “Lead” and “Not Looking Back”
The six electric Coca-Cola trucks are on the roads since 2017 in San Francisco; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Hartford, Conn.; with two trucks in Los Angeles. These eStar vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 tons annually. The windshield design offers nearly 180-degree visibility, improving safety. The vehicle is almost completely quiet.
Another notable mention is UPS with Workhorse Group are currently in testing phases of their own electric package truck, A project on going since 2018-2019 and it should be important to note that UPS’s first electric vehicle was in 1935 and you may have guessed that it was a Walker Electric Truck.
We look to the future with optimism and for business the promise substantially lower operational and maintenance costs over time, all-electric trucks so far haven't been able to beat their diesel or gasoline counterparts in their initial price tag. Seems like our world driven on the whim of big business and hopefully with the current romantics of Tesla Motors and other large and tenured business organizations getting more involved with energy sustainability we’ll see much more traction on the issue.
- S.M. Jenkins
Repairing things, a subject right up my alley. What boy or girl wasn’t guilty of taking apart an old alarm clock or two in their youth, some of which may have become the very people you take your vehicle to when its due for maintenance or for that unforeseen break down, perhaps they are now the very engineers designing the everyday products we use. Sadly, these engineers have failed us and you may have heard the phrase “it was made to break”. It seems like our everyday objects are made with a deliberately shortened useful life so that their makers could profit from forcing consumers to replace or upgrade them.
This feeling was popularized in the 1960s when there was concern that automobiles were not built to last, but that was small potatoes before the digital age. Today, electronics from microwave ovens to laptop computers, appliances (and yes, those cars again, but now with embedded electronics) are not easily repaired.
But wait, what’s happened to your old fashioned T.V. Repairman? A exert from a 2008 “The Implied Observer’s” article from a Fremont T.V. Repair shop owner certainly tells us :
There’s nothing left to say, he continued, pushing past drifts of gutted cases, dusty repair manuals, cardboard boxes, circuit boards and coiled, tangled nests of electrical wire that once were the central nervous systems for televisions.
“We live in a throwaway society,” said the 60-year-old repairman and soon-to-be former owner of Adams TV in Fremont. “It got to where I just couldn’t fight that anymore.”
it’s surely no accident. In many cases, manufacturers don’t make or distribute spare parts or share diagnostic tools. The result? A lot of digital technology is headed toward a premature burial in local landfills. That’s an increasingly costly environmental problem and it’s also outrageously wasteful and unnecessary.
The problem of electronic equipment entering the waste stream is significant. Even in places where electronics are accepted as recyclables, studies show people often don’t bother. It’s just too easy to toss a dead phone in the garbage can without thought to the toxic mix of chemicals and heavy metals contained inside, not to mention a potentially explosive battery. Advocates estimate that more than 20 million tons of end-of-life electronic products are produced every year.North Americans should view that as an embarrassment but also an opportunity — even recycling costs money (chiefly to sort and break apart devices) whereas reuse is not only more cost-effective, it’s potentially profitable.
There are challenges, of course. Manufacturers will no doubt resent greater government oversight of their successful business model. There will be cries of proprietary secrets, of diminished brand value, of resale rights, perhaps even of liability. But none of these hurdles seem impossible to overcome. And surely, it is far better for companies to voluntarily step forward and embrace an ethos of repair than to face potential penalties down the road like getting billed for every cellphone, robotic vacuum or Bluetooth speaker that ends up at the landfill or local incinerator.
Protecting the environment is just one of the potential benefits. Extending the life of products creates jobs and these are jobs that would effectively be distributed widely like electronic products — not just in one or two locations but across the country in cities, suburbs and rural areas, where these items are used. It would also likely save taxpayers money, not only in extending the life of these common household items but in creating less burden on waste disposal. Remember that 20 million tons of electronics? If every blue whale alive today were measured on a scale, all those consumer items would be heavier. About six times heavier, according to the Digital Right to Repair Coalition.
The pandemic has led to an increased interest in repair as people need to save money in the COVID-19 economy and don’t want to risk infection by going out to purchase replacements(I've covered a little on the low income family post covid in my last article "Uncertain thinking for Uncertain Times"). But we also see another benefit in repairing these items beyond tangible advantages like saving money and reducing waste, there are psychological benefits in repairing belongings like inspiring creativity and making people feel self-reliant all the while learning a new skill.
Covid-19 has also changed our relationship with technology and it's obvious that laws need to catch up as many more now need devices to work and learn.
It would seem that the future of this fight will lay with the high courts of your country, in the U.S. this has extended to Congress and the Supreme Court, too, where justices made it clear in Impression Products v Lexmark decision in 2017 that refilling ink cartridges (a form of recycling) was not a violation of patent rights. Ultimately, this ought to be common sense. There is hope however with 14 States Are Now Considering 'Right to Repair' Legislation as of February this year and many more have passed various versions of repair Acts into law however further development on this probably won’t happen unless those in political power continue to give manufacturers at least a serious nudge in the right direction and you can bank on manufacturers circumventing these acts with loopholes to keep what they believe is a loss of profit to a minimum.
companies have tried to cling tightly to nonsense in a bid to derail momentum. Usually this involves perpetuation and spread of nonexistent harms that threaten public safety and security. Apple last year insisted that passing a right to repair law in Nebraska would turn the state into a "mecca for hackers, or this year when the auto industry tried to claim that expanding Massachusetts' existing consumer tech law, to make sure that independent garages could access tools and diagnostic gear, would result in a "boom in sexual predators." The multi-sector quest to demonize the right to repair movement is relentless, and almost always involves making up bogus claims related to security and safety.
- S.M. Jenkins
I found this image shared with me not that long ago and I ask.... Why is this the case?
There are many complex reasons why the planet is in the state it is but there is a thread that connects them. Political leadership is the thread. In this case, there are tidal forces at work that explain why a situation like this persists. A part of that force that influences leadership is from those who are committed financially to the status quo. A status quo that exploits the planet beyond reason and it could be argued exploits people to an equal extent.
The other force that political leadership is subject to is the electorate and the electorate consistently votes for the leadership that takes us in the same direction decade after decade, sort of like the dog that chases his tail. Here is a question I hope you will answer. Is it not common sense to do everything humanly possible to preserve the place we live, this planet? People have not much hesitation answering this question in the affirmative. Yet when the solutions are rolled out in detail they magically transform from common sense to the articles of socialism. And of course, socialism can't be tolerated so the baby gets chucked out with the bathwater.
It may come too late but I believe it is going to fall to artificial intelligence to put this on the right track. Why? Because human intelligence does not seem to be up to the task.
We try and discuss subjects like this and others on our Facebook group , click here and join the conversation : https://www.facebook.com/groups/1094314960723248
You May have noticed we've kicked off our newsletter section and hope to provide a monthly syndication for our regular readers and members.
You can read our first entry titled " This is dedicated to your family" and the kick off for hopefully many more newsletter publicaitons.
Today me and my wife were discussing worse case scenarios on where we might have to live after Christmas 2022 for our family of five or rather six if you count the seven-pound tabby cat and our two-year-old black lab. In our part of the world we are just another story of what I’ve candidly called “Sell-evictions” in our household. Our lord of the land and home owner we rent from wishes to take advantage of the housing price boom that has formed since the pandemic. From the start of the pandemic we’ve seen the real estate bubble form here in Nova Scotia with semi-detached homes once sold to the tune of 130,000 Canadian dollars to just recently the semi-detached home across the street from our rental that had sold for 315,000.00 Canadian dollars roughly two weeks ago. Since the start of this bubble before the summer of 2020 our family has seen a little under half of the homes in the neighborhood crescent we rent in up and down for sale. Social distant queues of ten to fifteen people for showings was a shocking tell of this tale in our usually very quiet crescent.
Housing supply and price isn’t the only issue of the day here, Rental prices have doubled in this province from city center to rural areas increasing the unaffordability and housing security crisis not only for those not able to afford to buy but those of us that rent as well. One would assume that these two issues go hand in hand but with no data to support extreme measures in increased property tax rates from last year it all settles to the top of a consumer gouge in the guise of pandemic business woes. This was in part covered by CBC news in the beginning of May with talking points on some of the major players for low-income housing in Nova Scotia. You can read the full article here: https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/apartments-halifax . There’s also an interesting local article on what I’ve spoken on above and will below here : https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/real-estate-boom-evictions-tenants-landlords-nova-scotia-1.5993233
Our situation here has been driven by our local and provincial governments ability, or luck others might say in handling the pandemic thus far. We’ve seen the least amount of cases per capita of Covid-19 and thus have not had as many “lock-downs” or “circuit breakers” as various states and provinces are calling it. Coupled with the relatively median low housing costs that our province has always enjoyed has brought new people from provinces not so lucky. They are purchasing not only homes but income properties alike in droves. Nova Scotia in previous years was labeled the “have-not” province and lacked any real industry driver .While respectively this province had strong employment in the way of Tourism, Lobster fishing , Christmas tree arboriculture , Gypsum mining or just being deployed within Department of Defence to CFB Stadacona , Halifax, CFB Greenwood or CFB Shearwater with at least 40% of Canada’s military assets, alas this can’t be done by every one of us here and thus employment rates were not always optimistic in this province, This pushed the majority of the Maritime youth to Alberta and western Canada to pursuit their ideas of a Maritime fortune in the Athabasca oil sands of Norther Alberta, Diamond and Nickle mines of Manitoba and more for well over a decade starting in 2004. I should know I was one of them and worked for Chrysler Canada until the wildfire in 2015-2016 which devastated the Northern Communities of Alberta. These people are coming back home to a different province if they already have not. Returning to the pandemic, a majority of employed adults say the responsibilities of their job can be mostly done from home (55% in average in the U.S. and Canada by latest statistical data) thus making my part of the world rather attractive as of late.
I had at one-point last year asked myself the usual things when faced with tough times ahead, the general “why us” questions passed my mind, But I truly wanted to know if this was isolated to here or a global issue? Was there a real tipping point passed for the lower classes in the western world. I found no revelation ; it’s what we already know now and some of you may be experiencing it first-hand that globally there is a severe gap between the classes as we knew and I don’t believe Covid-19 was to blame but rather the spark.
It has been said that those in infectious disease epidemiology recognize that in the last 25 years, we've had seven or so of these events. This is not the first one and it's a repetitive issue: they see the emergence of a virus that causes an epidemic in man, they try to understand it, mitigate it, and do the best that they can to put out the fire and that only now monitoring for novel viruses that might emerge will be a priority among the political spectrums. Regardless of your school of thought whether it be the pandemic was a surprise or a conspiracy theory of sorts it can be said that for the majority of western society it caught us completely unprepared and off guard and we are only seeing the being of suffrage by the least fortunate.
In October of 2020 the World Bank advised that global extreme poverty is expected to rise in 2020 though 2021 for the first time in over 20 years as the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic compounds the forces of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing poverty reduction progress, further that eight out of 10 ‘new poor’ will be in middle-income countries and that prospect of less inclusive growth is a clear reversal from previous trends. Shared prosperity increased in 74 of 91 economies for which data was available in the period 2012-2017, meaning that growth was inclusive and the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population grew. In 53 of those countries, growth benefited the poorest more than the entire population. Average global shared prosperity (growth in the incomes of the bottom 40 percent) was 2.3 percent for 2012-2017. The future as it stands suggests that without quick and immediate policy actions, the COVID-19 crisis may trigger cycles of higher income inequality, lower social mobility among the vulnerable, and lower resilience to future shocks. The report calls for collective action to ensure years of progress in poverty reduction are not erased, and that efforts to confront poverty caused by COVID-19 also face threats that disproportionally impact the world’s poor at the same time, particularly conflict and climate change.
For our friends south of the border, On March 2nd 2021 Human Rights Watch organization said the United States government has made little progress in stemming the rise in poverty and inequality during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government should take urgent action to address the rights of millions of people suffering the compounded economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, 74.7 million Americans have lost work, with the majority of jobs lost in industries that pay below average wages. Many of those who lost work and income are running out of money and savings. In January, some 24 million adults reported experiencing hunger and more than six million said they fear being evicted or foreclosed on in the next two months due to their inability to make housing payments. By contrast, higher-income people have been relatively unscathed economically. Despite the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression, the collective wealth of the US’ 651 billionaires have jumped by over $1 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic, a 36 percent leap. Recent Census Bureau data this year shows how households with different incomes are coping with the pandemic and that low-income households are disproportionally struggling for their social and economic rights to be met. Among households with incomes below $35,000, 47 percent of adult’s report being behind on housing payments, and 25 percent say they struggle to put food on the table. Thirty-two percent of low-income adults said they had felt depressed in the previous seven days.
Continuing from the January report based on the census data, more than one out of 10 adults lived in a home where there was sometimes or often not enough food to eat in the previous week. Food insecurity was particularly high among households that had lost employment during the pandemic. Three out of four food-insecure households have experienced job loss since the pandemic began and 58 percent did not have work at the time of the survey. More than half of adults in food-insecure homes have children living with them. Nearly two-thirds of food-insecure families reported that in the previous seven days it was “sometimes” or “often” true that their “children were not eating enough because we just couldn’t afford enough food.”
For us here in Canada heading into the Covid-19 pandemic, the poverty rate in Canada was declining and income inequality was falling too. Rumblings via the internet are reporting that early released findings by statistics Canada are going to advise in Tuesday May 25th’s report that government support measures largely mitigated declines in employment and earnings. It remains to be seen just how the pandemic has impacted poverty in Canada. Previous data has shown that “middle” and “low” class families along with Seniors and single parent families struggled the most last year.
Food insecurity has a similar situation in Canada, before the pandemic, an estimated 4.5 million Canadians experienced food insecurity, which the non-profit defines as inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints.
In the first two months of the global outbreak, Community Food Centres Canada said that number had grown by 39 per cent, meaning food insecurity affected one in seven people, particularly those in low-income situations. Further many of the Charities and non-profits that would help bridge the gap in food security issues for low income families are struggling to stay afloat during and after the first wave of the pandemic. Lower income people weren't among those stocking up on groceries and medications when these lockdowns hit, as doing that takes resources most simply don't and didn’t have.
The mid-lower to lower classes are still functioning hand to mouth as they did before the pandemic, except now the western world is a hot mess of rising food prices, rental housing insecurity and declining mental health, issues which impacted impoverished people disproportionately when society was ostensibly running like it's supposed to.
Covid-19 was the spark….
The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on low-income people underscores the urgency of addressing the precarious financial situation that low-wage workers faced even before the pandemic however I personally believe our fragile system was broken well before the pandemic. This was hailed from respected thinkers from Noam Chomsky to conspiracy literatures like the late Michael Rupert. Policy makers in the U.S. believe that raising the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour may raise it to a level of a “livable wage”, Unfortunately, because the government in both U.S. and Canada does not mandate a living wage, employers are slow to be made aware of and adopt a living wage. Further the ideal has been touted as being effective for combatting poverty and addressing wage inequality… perhaps.
In Canada the idea of Universal Basic Income has been floated, like our friends in Scandinavian countries. The motion put forward by the National Democratic Party (NDP) in the Canadian House of Commons, M-46, called on Ottawa to work with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to deliver a minimum income for all adult Canadian. Time will tell if such a system is adopted however given government track records in Canada to get the ball rolling, if it does become material it will be too late. Critics say a UBI may not be the best way to reduce poverty, because it could mean less targeted supports for historically marginalized groups. They say the country should look at bolstering existing programs instead. Others say that it would incur extensive tax rate hikes much as I mentioned like our friends in Scandinavian countries currently pay.
Both governments herald the various stimulus packages as saving the day, I would say rather from immediate complete collapse to a slow burn. Various critics in both the U.S. and Canada have said that simply offering low income people the same funding as before or even the little extra that might be gained through these stimulus programs but may not be enough, and will soon end in Canada in the fall of this year. The plethora of information published, uploaded, written on the future economic outlook via hundreds of pages of internal reports from top Wall Street banks and dozens of columns from the world’s leading economists on stimulus-driven inflation is staggering to say the least. While some say that worries about an inflation shock are way overdone, particularly given the scale and severity of the damage wrought by the pandemic, it is transparent in the same materials that in North America and some parts of the “western world”, Will be Paying for Coronavirus Stimulus by Printing Money. We only need to take stock of history and look to the Song Dynasty and China.
Businesses will never go back to succeeding based on business models pre-COVID. Now, there is a permanent shift in business strategy. While big retail brands changed a decade of innovation in just 90 days during 2020, many smaller businesses were wiped out completely along with it those impacts to the owners and employees of such businesses and aiding in the creation of an economic domino effect and Nearly all of the small leisure, hospitality and retail businesses in the U.S. and Canada that remain closed because of the pandemic will never reopen.
The current outlooks grim to say the least, there are several systemic issues, including a “frayed social-safety net,” the rising cost of living, and an abundance of precarious, poorly paid jobs in both countries that were forbearing the pandemic that allowed us to reach this point. There will be expected and usual “too little, too late” policies and actions given by those in political power here in the western world, however if we listen closely one might hear the third world laughing at us. It brings to mind the popular internet meme “first time” with actor James Franco shown above (a clip from the “Ballad of Buster Scruggs” a great collection of stories in a wild west setting). The western world as we’ve known it is soon for a reality check with cases of food and housing insecurity on the constant rise and the real situation now of millions of people going hungry or are on the brink of losing their home or seeing their utilities shut off in some of the world’s wealthiest countries. It’s a clear indictment of a failed safety net and the urgent need to address people’s rights to food and housing.
Poverty data is typically drawn from household surveys, and for obvious reasons it is nigh impossible to conduct proper surveys under current conditions in many countries. But we do know that the strongest driver of poverty is economic growth and for this indicator there is no technological or financial reason to accept the reversals in global poverty with COVID-19 as the catalyst. The damage is due to a lack of political will and international leadership on the issue and currently there is no infrastructure to support this level of instability and level of need.
If the powers at be want to address the economic insecurity and inequality that the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated, they need to make ensuring economic and social rights for all a priority, this means building a universal and strong social protection system and investing in public services, notably education, health care, housing, and an adequate standard of living.
The pandemic taught those who were watching that impoverished people are more likely to work low-wage jobs without benefits; they're also more likely to work in retail or service, which meant over the past year and a half either risking exposure to a potentially deadly virus or being one of millions who were laid off from their employment and have seen very little in the sense of rehiring due to the second and third waves. This group of people are less likely to get tested early, to have health coverage for those in the U.S., to be allowed to work from home, to get paid leave and to work or study from a video-streaming connection. By contrast, wealthier people are apt to have jobs where they can work from home, receive more employment insurance, and are more likely to have savings, assets or credit to fall back on.
No matter how you slice it, the pandemic did set off the faults in our systems and adversely and disproportionately impacted the working poor and economically disadvantaged people.
The once hidden scourge of homelessness or insecure housing will be more at the forefront in the coming months with runs the gamut of youth “couch-surfing,” to people who can’t afford household fixes or upgrades that would allow them to live comfortably. We’ll be sure to see more living in tents, sleeping rough in the woods and sleeping in cars. The western world is used to seeing single individuals in these situations and has ignored them, what will happen when we see more and more families do this? Will UNICEF make donation drives and commercials about us when we are starving?
With respects to the Preparedness Project one of part of the mission is not only to be prepared for Ecological/Environmental crisis but the failing security of our financial system. I believe this goes hand in hand, we cannot ask people assist in combating climate change when there is no food on the table.
With uncertain times comes uncertain thinking and some might be waiting for that “Great Reset”, Market crash or an apocalyptical “Mad Max” scenario. While the global markets may have some turmoil ahead we’ll leave that subject for another blog, Anyways I have too much dad fluff to look good in that “Road warrior” leather jacket. In the mean time we’ll take the eleven degrees Celsius, warm sun and the gentle breeze and the over active bird season here today, a barbeque and some play with bubbles for the kids while we can enjoy our backyard green-space.
Above all else, we need to take care of each other right now — everyone, all of us. Regardless of our class — of our income, our credit ratings, our social status — every single person in our community deserves to be safe, healthy, warm and fed, not only during these rough times but for the next few years.
- S.M. Jenkins
If you are or know someone in need of Mental Health services or Food support please follow the links below that apply to you:
U.K. & SCOTLAND
EIRE / Ireland
We are at a remarkable moment: a moment that is unique in human history, a moment both ominous in portent and bright with hopes for a better future. The Progressive International has a crucial role to play in determining which course history will follow. The crises we face in this unique moment of human history are of course international. Environmental catastrophe, nuclear war, and the pandemic have no borders. Two internationals are forming to confront the crises of this historical moment. One is the Progressive International. The other is a Reactionary International comprising the world’s most reactionary states. The two internationals comprise a good part of the world, one at the level of states, the other popular movements. Each is a prominent representative of much broader social forces, which have sharply contending images of the world that should emerge from the current pandemic. One force is working relentlessly to construct a harsher version of the neoliberal global system from which they have greatly benefited, with more intensive surveillance and control. The other looks forward to a world of justice and peace, with energies and resources directed to serving human needs rather than the demands of a tiny minority. It is a kind of class struggle on a global scale, with many complex facets and interactions. It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the human experiment depends on the outcome of this struggle. Noam Chomsky PI Council"
From The Globe and Mail:
“To retain and grow biopharmaceutical manufacturing and R&D activities in Canada, the tax regime must provide certainty and predictability in order to be effective as incentive for investments. […] Unfortunately, over the last decade, Canada has been viewed as a jurisdiction in which transfer pricing is systematically and aggressively challenged by the Canada Revenue Agency.”
This isn’t quite extortion, as it’s not a direct threat about the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the letter does go on to say that if OECD proposals to close off this tax loophole were implemented in Canada, they’d “introduce additional uncertainty for [multinational enterprises] and discourage them from maintaining or growing their activities in a country like Canada.”