UK Crashes Into Deepest Recession of Any Major Economy

Although the United States saw a significant decrease in economic output during 2020’s second quarter, the UK experienced an even worse outcome.

The economy’s output shrank by over 20%, making it the worst quarterly slump on record in history. Although the COVID-19 pandemic drove the results, it is still the deepest recession of any major economy.

Although the US experienced a 31.4% drop in economic activity, that figure was only a 10.6% drop than the GDP. 

France and Italy both suffered over 15% drops in relation to the second quarter of 2020. The cause for these massive declines involves the dependence on retail and services in those economies.

Why Did the UK’s Economy Decline Steeply?

The issue with the UK’s financial results involves the lockdown length imposed on people. Most businesses were stopped from providing services or selling goods for the entire quarter.

Although the United States had a lengthy lockdown period that started in March, different states took unique approaches. Some of them barely put in any restrictions, while others used significant lockdown measures to restrict movement.

The states that followed the UK’s approach are seeing similar problems with their economy.

Even when comparing Italy to the United Kingdom, restaurants, cafés, and hairdressers were allowed to reopen in May for Italians. It wasn’t until July 4 that those in the UK could do the same.

Germany faired even better because it allowed car dealerships, bike shops, bookstores, and other businesses to reopen as early as April 20.

Since the restrictions were lightened, the UK economy saw an 8.7% increase in activity from the previous month. It’s a start, but more needs to be done to rescue people trapped near the poverty line.
Although the UK economy expects to recover, a fast response is not likely. Another wave of COVID-19 cases, shedding almost one million jobs, and slow Brexit negotiations threaten to make a 10% contraction for 2020.

What to Stock Up on Before a Winter COVID-19 Resurgence

When lockdown orders started getting implemented in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, shoppers began stocking up on emergency supplies. The first items to leave store shelves involved paper products and toilet paper.

This activity was quickly followed by rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and similar pantry staples.

With the world gearing up for a winter resurgence of COVID-19, mixed with a bit of influenza, now is the perfect time to start stocking up on things.

You’ll want to grab those pantry staples now. Having an extra package of toilet paper wouldn’t hurt. Any medications you may need should get restocked, including prescriptions that are necessary for your health.

Once you have those items, considering adding these additional things to your list.

1. Health Supplements

Many people use supplements to get the nutrients they need for good health. Stocking up on items from Desbio, Numeria, and Neuroscience to ensure you have enough for up to three months can get you through potentially challenging times.

2. Diapers

If you have a little one at home, stock up on diapers. Get some wipes while you’re at the store as well, since those disappeared after the toilet paper.

3. Hand Sanitizer

You couldn’t find hand sanitizer on most store shelves for over a month after the pandemic hit. Once the products started coming back, you were paying double or triple the price for the same item pre-pandemic. Stocking up now ensures you won’t get caught in similar circumstances.

4. Frozen Vegetables

Canned goods disappeared quickly when reports of food chain shortages hit the news in April. Grab some frozen veggies now to keep in your freezer. They’ll stay good throughout the winter.

5. Canned Fruit

Fresh produce disruptions made it challenging to find some fruit items in some stores. Stocking up on canned varieties ensures you have a long-term food solution to maintain.
What you don’t need to grab is bottled water. You can get everything you need from your well or municipal supply. If shortages do occur, shop local to support farmers and growers in your community – or plant a garden to get what you need!

Quick Review of 2020 Most Notable Moments

When we think about 2020, it will be a year that none of us forget. Future generations will talk about the months that we spent alone, working and learning remotely, while everything seemed like it could fall apart at any moment.

The year started with news that a disease was spreading throughout China. It didn’t seem like a problem in January, but it became concerning in February when it began to spread. Italy saw record casualties, followed by the U.S., while the rest of the world tried to maintain its status quo.

China locked down Wuhan first. Italy did the same, followed by the United States and the rest of the world.

We’re still dealing with the coronavirus today. It was once considered a respiratory illness with new mandates requiring people to wear masks, but now scientists see it as a cardiovascular issue. At least every day gets us a little closer to normalcy again.

That’s one issue from 2020. Here is a review of the other notable events, in no particular order.

1. Murder Hornets

These massive hornets are the size of a finger. They feed on bee colonies, disrupting pollination chains wherever they go. For the past few years, some had been spotted in Canada. Now, they’re moving into Washington State.

2. Assassination of Qasem Soleimani

The U.S. authorized the death of an Iranian general in a drone strike. This event led to several days of tension between the two countries, with threats of war traded. Iran would issue a retaliatory attack on Iraqi bases with American troops in response. That happened three days into the year.

3. Trump’s Impeachment

Donald Trump became the first President in his first term to get impeached by the House of Representatives.

4. Death of Kobe Bryant

Basketball star and philanthropist Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with his teen daughter and seven others while flying to a game. The entire world found itself mourning the loss, with murals appearing from Africa to the Philippines.

5. Beirut Explosion

Over 2,700 pounds of ammonium nitrate exploded in Lebanon, killing over 150 people and injuring about 6,000. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as entire neighborhoods got leveled.

6. George Floyd

Protests in Portland, OR, over the death of George Floyd have persisted for over 100 days. The Black Lives Matter movement surged again, with mostly peaceful protests happening in dozens of cities.

We’re in the final stretch of 2020. What else do you think this year has in store for us all?

Discarded Masks Becoming a Health and Environmental Hazard

When the coronavirus pandemic made its first wave around the planet in March, health experts didn’t want people to wear masks because of the emergency need for them at hospitals and care facilities.

As we have learned more about how COVID transmits between people, most governments have mandated mask-wearing to prevent its spread.

These rules may be limiting the number of infections, but it also comes with a detrimental side effect. People are littering by discarding their used masks improperly. This problem has become so widespread that it is becoming a health and environmental hazard.

Why Is PPE Problematic for the Environment?

If you take a walk around the average city, you’ll find discarded masks and gloves everywhere. Whether in the street, a parking lot, or your front yard, these plastics can adversely impact the environment.

These products break down into microplastics that attract harmful chemicals and pesticides. They enter sewer systems and bodies of water. When animals eat these products, the contaminants enter their tissues.

If we eat those animals, the litter we created with our PPE enters our bodies.

What makes the problem even worse is that some people think that these items can be recycled, creating breakdowns in the recovery chain. 

The problem has become so great that some communities, such as Swampscott, Mass., are instituting fines of $5,500 or more to stop the littering.

How to Manage the COVID PPE Problem

It only takes having all of us to follow a few simple steps to stop PPE littering in our communities.

1. Don’t Litter

If you have masks or gloves that must get discarded, throw the PPE in the nearest trash. Although the risk of catching the coronavirus is remote, having healthy children or adults coming into contact with a contaminated item is not something we’d wish on anyone.

2. Put Clean Materials in Recycling

You cannot leave food or organic materials in recycling products. Try to clean each item before placing it in the correct receptacle.

3. Put PPE in the Trash

Used masks and gloves should get put out with the weekly trash. It helps to put the PPE in a tight, secure bag to prevent any contamination from reaching the regular waste stream. If you travel and need to discard items, carry a container that lets you properly store the items until they can be disposed of correctly.
When we all do our part, we can stop the litter and the COVID pandemic. Take care of yourself with products from Argentyn23, LivOn Labs, and Quicksilver Scientific while protecting you and your loved ones from infection.

Bubonic Plague Found at Mongolia Border

Mongolia quarantined the regional border with Russia because testing found the presence of the bubonic plague. The first case was found in Bayannur, which is to the northwest of Beijing. A Level 3 warning for prevention will stay in place until 2021 to ensure hospitals remain alert.

What makes the plague such a dangerous infection is that people taking antibiotics may not survive. Although the rates are much lower than the 93% fatality rate found in the Dark Ages, 16% of those who get these bacteria die.

Health authorities in Mongolia are asking people to take extra precautions to prevent human-to-human transmission.

Marmots Are Thought to Be Responsible

Authorities are telling the general public to avoid sick or dead marmots in the area. This type of large ground squirrel is part of the local cuisine, which is why fears of uncontrolled transmission still exist.

About 63,000 people died in 1911 when a pneumonic plague epidemic started from the animal. It came from diseased fur products that got transported and traded around the country. The first two cases of the bubonic type came from brothers who had eaten infected meat.

A third confirmed case in the region came from a teenager who had also eaten marmot meat in recent days.

These incidents follow the death of a Mongolian couple last May from bubonic plague after eating the raw kidney from one. Two others developed the symptoms of pneumonic plague in Inner Mongolia from a similar issue.

Will Bubonic Plague Become Another Pandemic?

About 1,000 to 2,000 people get the bubonic plague each year. Although unreported cases could cause those numbers to go higher, most countries don’t have endemic issues. The average number of fatalities from this infection in the United States is only one.

The three places where plague is known to exist permanently are Madagascar, Peru, and the Republic of the Congo.

Despite its global presence, the threat of this severe illness becoming another pandemic is minimal. Even if someone gets exposed, early treatment is almost certain to eradicate the bacteria.
The best preventative measures to take are to avoid contact with infected animals. Exposure to contaminated body fluids from a carcass can spread the bacteria. You can also get it from infected fleas.

Why China is Buying Record Amounts of Oil

The cost of oil dipped so low during the COVID pandemic that some prices were negative. That meant distributors would have to pay someone to take barrels off of their hands.

China took advantage of these low prices to stock up. They bought so much foreign oil since March 2020 that a traffic jam of tankers is waiting at sea to offload.

At the end of June, over 73 million barrels of oil was floating at sea along the northern coast. Since May, the amount considered to be in floating storage has quadrupled, making it seven times higher than the monthly average from Q1 2020.

Is it smart to go bargain-hunting for oil when the markets are experiencing extreme stress?

China’s Purchases Propped Up the Oil Market

The swing in oil prices was about $80 during Q2 2020, going from negative $40 to positive $40 per barrel. That swing happened because of China’s strong demand while combined with supply cuts from Russia and OPEC.

China relies on foreign crude to meet its economic needs. When global prices reach record lows, it makes sense to stockpile oil for future use. That’s why imports surged almost 20% during the pandemic, with much of it coming from the Latin America region.

Most of the oil purchased at record lows came from Brazil. It takes about 45 days to ship crude from South America to China, which is why offshore storage levels are so high right now. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq also sent significant quantities.

China Wasn’t the Only Major Buyer

Any country that uses significant oil quantities for its economy found itself in an unexpected position to buy. Even if the costs weren’t budgeted, it made sense to start importing crude to meet future needs.

The United States supported domestic oil producers by purchasing 30 million barrels to reinforce the national reserve. Several countries in Europe and Asia made similar buys.

Weak prices caused two-handed purchasing, but not at the extent that China was operating.

Experts expect China to use the crude oil as an arbitrage opportunity. Investors are more willing to pay for the commodity in the future than they are today, which means those who store the product for a few months could sell it at a significant profit.

COVID continues to present unique energy and economic challenges for the world. China is betting big that oil prices will recover soon. If they don’t, they can still use the crude domestically, creating a win-win situation.

What Were the Social Effects of WWI?

World War I stayed a regional conflict until 1917. Although the entire world felt like it was at war for that final two years, the social effects of the conflict continue to impact society.

WWI led governments to introduce conscription. It changed how women were thought of in society. The conflict encouraged people to get more involved in the politics of their communities.

WWI’s significant casualties also created times of national mourning for all nations in the world.

What Were the Consequences of WWI?

The battles of WWI caused more damage than any other conflict in history. Over 9 million people died, with Germany and Russia suffering the most losses.

The fighting entirely destroyed some areas of Belgium and France. Gun shells, chemicals, and more made some of the farmland unusable for decades. We are still finding unexploded ordinance from the battle in some communities.

Most countries had to raise taxes because of the cost of the conflict. Great Britain spent about 60% of the funds its economy produced. It became so desperate that some nations printed money, causing inflation to skyrocket.

The war also ended four monarchies in its aftermath. Rulers in Austria, Germany, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire all stepped down, reshaping Europe into different social and cultural borders. 

What Happened Socially After WWI?

Birth rates went down dramatically across Europe after WWI because of the number of young men who were killed in the conflict. Civilians who lost their homes to the fighting fled to other nations, including the United States, to start life over. 

Women started replacing men in many of the factories producing goods all over the world. Their contributions helped to set the stage to give them the right to vote for the first time. The wealthy lost their influence to the middle and lower class families who experienced significant losses because of the war.

Some of the social changes after WWI would lead to the fanaticism that would eventually start WWII. This era of conflict would subsequently bring us some of the most sustained peace the world has ever experienced.

It is up to all of us to ensure that we can continue to live in peace.

What a Record Heat Wave in Siberia Means for the World

It wasn’t that long ago when families in Siberia were running errands on snowmobiles in June. This year, the northernmost region of Russia is recording all-time record high temperatures.

Temperatures hit 88 degrees Fahrenheit in May. Once summer came along, 100 degree days began to appear.

The record heat wave in Siberia is causing wildfires to appear. Fishing opportunities are impacting food supplies, while the mosquitoes are flying faster and fiercer than ever.

Since the northern region sees almost 24-hour sunlight during the summer months, residents have started to nail their doors and windows shut with blankets and foil to keep the heat, light, and insects away.

Temperatures in Siberia Reached Negative 90 Degrees Fahrenheit in 1892.

The region famous for exile in Russia now feels like a tropical holiday destination. As the Arctic starts warming, areas of permafrost start melting at levels never recorded in recent history. This process does more than flood pastures or destabilize homes.

It contributes to the release of greenhouse gases responsible for retaining more of the sunlight’s heat. Up to 240 billion tons of carbon could get released by 2100 if the warming cycle continues, accelerating climate change dramatically. 

The warmer weather does bring some benefits to Siberians. Since the sea ice to the north is receding some, traveling between Asia and Europe can happen more quickly through the Arctic Ocean. It may also create energy-creation opportunities with more access to oil and gas reserves.

The hundreds of billions in potential profits also come at a steep price. Permafrost changes could cost Russia at least $100 billion in repairs.

What Does This Mean for the Rest of the World?

The planet tends to adjust its climate in other regions based on how others experience alterations. If Siberia experiences record heat waves, unusually cold temperatures start appearing elsewhere.

Several unusual weather issues have been recorded in 2020. There have been fewer tornadoes this year since the 1950s, a rare derecho that formed west of the Rocky Mountains, and a river in South Dakota that remained above flood stage for over a year.

If Siberia continues to keep baking, more weather changes could develop over the rest of the world. That’s why we need to take the issues of climate seriously.

What is an Example of Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental sustainability enables us to take care of ourselves and our planet simultaneously. Instead of consuming natural resources without replenishing them, this effort focuses on creating an eco-friendly way to meet our needs.

We can accomplish environmental sustainability in several ways.

1. Sustainable Forestry and Biome Preservation

Forests are significant contributors to our environment. This biome provides a habitat for wildlife, oxygen for us to breathe, and removes harmful pollutants from the ground. Trees help clouds to start forming, sustaining our weather cycles to ensure we have moisture and more to recycle our supplies.

2. Herbal Products and Why Farming Practices Matter

How we grow the foods we need and supplements we use can determine soil health for decades. When we fail to rotate crops or use harmful chemicals to improve profit margins, the leftover salts and contaminants can make the land unusable. That’s why shopping with brands like Garden of Life or Herb Pharm can be a healthy choice for ourselves and the planet.

3. Sustainable Waste Management Practices

Each country on our planet produces tons of waste daily. When this process is thoughtless, it creates pollutants that can impact every biome and life form on the Earth. Several tons of plastic products float in our oceans for this very reason. Even incineration can release harmful particulates into the atmosphere for us to breathe. We must create sustainable cycles where as many waste materials as possible can get reused instead of always manufacturing items with virgin items.

4. Water Processing and Why Recycling is Necessary

Water’s constant use and disposal create a depletion of an essential resource we all require. Several purification methods help us turn unusable liquid into something we can drink or use on our crops. We must also focus on sustainable use practices to ensure the freshwater supply remains for future generations.

We can also use renewable energy sources like solar and wind to contribute to environmental sustainability. Although some practices in this area are costly, others are quite affordable. What steps could you take today to help protect our planet?

Why Some Countries Haven’t Reported COVID-19 Cases

Before Christmas 2019, it seemed as if the new coronavirus epidemic would stay confined to China. A few weeks later, authorities declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic, causing a variety of symptoms and pneumonia-like problems.

The coronavirus transmits through bodily fluids and droplets. Exposure to a person’s saliva or mucus through the eyes, nose, mouth, or cuts can cause the infections. Some researchers believe that someone with active disease is immediately contagious, even if that individual doesn’t report any symptoms.

As of June 11, 2020, COVID-19 has been reported in 188 countries and territories around the world.

COVID-19 Has Infected Over 7 Million People

Estimates from Johns Hopkins University suggest that the new coronavirus has infected over 7.2 million people. The ease of transmission for this virus is causing health officials, scientists, and governments worldwide to suggest social distancing measures.

Unless there is a compelling reason to go outside or travel, authorities are recommending people should stay inside.

The United States is the global leader in reported infections, with about 2 million people and over 111,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

On the other end of the spectrum, a total of 13 countries and territories have not reported a single case of the new coronavirus. Those governments are Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Greenland, and North Korea. 

With the exceptions of North Korea and Turkmenistan, the reason why the other governments are not reporting coronavirus cases is simple. Their isolation is an advantage during a global pandemic.

Using COVID-19 as a Political Tool

The other governments are not reporting new COVID-19 cases because they feel it is their best interest to behave this way.

North Korea sees the idea of reporting cases of the coronavirus as a sign of weakness. When their adversary (the U.S.) is the global leader for infections and deaths, saying that nothing exists in their country portrays a domestic feeling of strength.

Turkmenistan says that it is coronavirus-free. The government recently uninvited a team from the World Health Organization to check on conditions, raising suspicions about the information coming from the country.

COVID-19 will likely be a disease that we must learn to live with until effective treatment solutions get found. We know that social distancing can work, and the island nations of the South Pacific are evidence of that fact.