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?

What Milestones Does a Vaccine Need to Hit Before Approval?

The typical vaccine goes through six general stages of development before receiving approval for distribution.

1. The exploratory stage looks at the viability of a vaccine. Some diseases would not respond well to this treatment option, so the first effort must be to see if it would be effective.

2. The preclinical stage begins the developmental process so that the actual vaccine gets created. It includes the initial manufacturing to produce an item that is ready for trial.

3. Clinical development is a three-phase process that must get completed before governments can review and approve a vaccine. The first one involves small groups of individuals who receive the trial vaccination. If those results are encouraging, the second phase expands the clinical study to include people with specific characteristics. The final stage has the vaccine given to thousands of people to test for safety and efficacy.

4. Once a vaccine proves to be safe and effective, government agencies send it through a regulatory review process. The goal of this step is to review the evidence of safety and efficacy to ensure the shot doesn’t cause more harm than good. It receives approval only after this independent evaluation.

5. The manufacturing process begins after a vaccine receives approval. Some companies follow an “at risk” policy that has them produce doses before receiving authorization so that the item can get immediately distributed to the general public. If a denial happens instead, all of the vaccinations would need to be thrown away.

6. The final milestone involves quality control. The goal is to ensure that the vaccine can be as helpful as possible without increasing the risk of additional health problems.

The FDA Requires Specific Information for Vaccines

Sponsors of a new vaccine in the United States must follow a multi-step approval process that includes a new drug application, pre-licensure clinical trials, and a biologics license application. The government inspects the manufacturing facility before issuing an approval.

A presentation of findings to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is also mandatory.

The FDA also requires usability testing of the product labeling. Manufacturers can be required to provide the results of their tests for purity, potency, and safety, or be required to submit to third-party examination. 

All of this is important for the average citizen, but for those who work in the medical field, make sure to note the information here so you can pass it along. If you want more in depth information on the topic, check out our patient safety news sources you should be following.

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.

Why States Released Prisoners Early During COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is exceptionally contagious, especially by the precedent set by other coronavirus infections. This reason is why doctors and scientists recommend keeping six feet of social distance between people whenever flare-ups occur.

Some places have very little room to provide social distancing measures. Jails and prisons in the United States were already overcrowded before the pandemic. Officials decided that the safest way to limit the infection potential was to release some non-violent prisoners early.

At-Risk Inmates Were the First to Gain Release

Prisoners do not have the option to take products from brands like Argentyn 23, Sovereign Silver, or Natural Path Silver Wings to support their health. Trying to boost the immune system when eating prison food and being in close confinement with others turned out to be an impossible task.

During the first couple of weeks of the pandemic in New York City, a cluster of cases around the Rikers Island complex had over 450 people test positive for the new coronavirus.

Illinois experienced a similar issue with a cluster around the Cook County jail in Chicago.

Once the virus arrives in a jail or prison, it spreads like wildfire because the crowded conditions don’t give people a place to protect themselves. Even Attorney General William Barr ordered at-risk, non-violent inmates who posed a minimal risk of recidivism to serve the remainder of their sentence in home confinement.

Is it Time to Rethink the Prison System?

Hygiene is not well-practiced at many jails and prisons in the United States because of other risk factors. Most institutions do not permit hand sanitizer because it can get used to make alcoholic drinks in cells.

Facilities don’t provide soap to prisoners or inmates either. It is not unusual for a charge of $1 to get instituted for a single bar, which is a significant cost for people making less than that per hour. 

The boldest measures to protect prisoners came from the state of California. The government there plans to release up to 3,500 non-violent inmates in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prisons aren’t taking inmates from county jails there anymore either as a way to free up more space.

COVID-19 doesn’t care if you are a law enforcement officer or you break the law. It doesn’t care about skin color, wealth, or what job you have. States released prisoners early because it was the best way to reduce the threat of infection.

Are Governments Using Coronavirus to Expand Control?

People are in protest around the world because of stay-at-home orders. Employment in the United States went from the best rate in 50 years to the worst figures since the Great Depression. The authoritative measures implemented by governments at every level of society are causing much concern.

Expanding government controls feels like a reach to get into the private lives of individuals. Contact tracing requirements, mandatory communication, and open medical data feel like intrusions that might never go away.

Is the “new normal” a place where interruptions to our daily routine are commonplace? Does it create a society where neighbors and families get encouraged to report each other for perceived wrongdoing?

Lessons Learned from the 1918 Influenza Response

When influenza killed tens of millions of people in 1918 and 1919, the governments of Europe and the United States used measures to control the epidemic that first started during the Bubonic Plague.

Medical professionals believed that the virus responsible for the new flu strain could get spread by sneezing and coughing. Since that meant you could get sick by breathing the air around someone who was ill, the governments implemented protocols similar to what we see today with COVID-19.

Almost all public institutions were closed – except for any essential businesses that contributed to the health and welfare of the economy. Public gatherings of any type were forbidden. Although churches could remain open, social distancing measures were required to limit physical contact with others. Public transportation was effectively banned. Committees even recommended staggering the opening and closing hours of stores to prevent overcrowding.

Rumors Circulate Quickly During a Crisis

Fear is the foundation of information during a pandemic. It is a trait seen throughout human history.

The reality of our government structures is that we give it broad authority to keep people safe during an emergency. A pandemic certainly qualifies for such an action. Although staying at home for 8-10 weeks in isolation can be trying on everyone, it can also provide the foundation of safety required to reduce infections and fatalities.

If the government was going to expand population controls because of COVID-19, then it would not slowly remove restrictions. It would merely put companies out of business and employees out of work. Then it would give people the basics for survival while demanding compliance for essential activities.

It is a different world when living in a pandemic. People are dealing with issues not seen for over a century. Although it is a scary time, we must remember to take care of one another. 

Global Hunger Problems Could Double in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Before the new coronavirus became a global pandemic, over 135 million people went to bed with chronic hunger each year. The aftermath of COVID-19 could add another 130 million to that figure.

The WFP – the food program from the United Nations – says that it needs at least $12 billion more in funding to provide emergency assistance to people in need.

Reduced travel capabilities, falling remittances, and lost hospitality revenues are all contributing factors to this issue. Unless fast action gets taken to stop this problem, the families living hand-to-mouth today may need to sell the few assets they currently have to have food. That means it could take several years to achieve self-reliance once again.

Farmers Are Already Selling Oxen and Plows

The people that the world needs to be most concerned about are those that live in nations were safety nets are rarely available. It places the responsibility for acquiring food on the workers or programs like the WFP to meet basic needs.

That means farmers get left with a terrible choice. Do they go hungry so that they can keep their equipment and livestock, or do they sell their oxen and plows to meet their short-term needs today?

The United Nations has a five-category rating system that gauges the availability of food in the general population. A Category 5 issue translates to mass starvation. In the aftermath of COVID-19, many countries in Africa found themselves at a Category 3 rating, which means they have a critical lack of food access and more malnutrition than usual.

How to Fight the Hunger Crisis

Only two things are needed to stop the developing hunger crisis from the coronavirus: understanding and action. The world needs people to influence public policy, work directly with the families in need, and provide financial contributions.

Millions are already in a position where they are entirely reliant on food aid to meet their daily needs. If conflict, famine, and drought continue to affect critical areas of agricultural production, then this issue will keep growing. In some areas, such as Africa, locust swarms are adding to these issues.

Hunger impacts the wealthy countries of our planet, with up to 20% of households managing food insecurity.
Although COVID-19 creates a lot of fear and uncertainty, it is also giving us time to focus on change. By taking care of each other, we can build a planet where everyone can go to bed each night without worry about having enough food to eat.

What Is the Main Purpose of a Respirator, and Why Are They Rare?

COVID-19 exposed the treatment gaps in hospitals all over the world. As patients forced hospitals to be over-capacity, the respiratory illness showed how ill-equipped facilities were to manage severe symptoms. Ventilators became in-demand at such levels that some facilities were hooking equipment meant for one person to two individuals.

Respirators were also in short supply in most facilities. These mask-like devices get worn over the nose and mouth to prevent the inhalation of a harmful substance. Wearing one while in the presence of someone with a viral infection can prevent the spread of that disease.

That means it is harder to get infected with COVID-19 when wearing one.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using N95 respirators to prevent viral transmissions. This equipment type fits tightly around the mouth and nose when compared to surgical masks or DIY cloth products. Another option is called a PAPR, which stands for “powered air-purifying respirator.” It covers the entire head, using a blower to filter the air.

What Caused the Respirator Shortage?

After 85 million N95 respirators got distributed in 2009 to tackle the challenges of the swine influenza, American companies started shifting the production of this product overseas. Most of the contracts went to Chinese facilities, creating a cost-savings at the expense of losing the infrastructure for domestic capabilities.

The cost of manufacturing equipment that can produce the respirators needed to treat COVID-19 patients is $250,000 or – with a six-month lead time.

As companies sought cheaper production practices, they developed complex international supply chains at the expense of domestic capabilities. This action shrunk the labor pool and limited costs, but it also created unexpected fragility in the marketplace. 

Without access to the international supply chain, there is zero access to the respirators.

Then the chain-of-events that led to the global pandemic of COVID-19 contributed to the shortage of respirators. China is the home of several manufacturing centers that make this product. Since workers couldn’t function in their facilities with the viral outbreak attacking that country first, the first respirators went to Chinese front-line workers. That meant fewer were available for the future clusters and outbreaks that occurred.

Even though respirators are a low-value item that is easy to manufacture, there aren’t enough companies making this product. Those that are haven’t reached full capacity since January 2020. Until those issues get corrected, this personal protective equipment will continue to be rare.