Matters of Concern: 2022-03-11
Soaring prices, a little something about biolabs, and a peek at Unprepared's future.
The situation between Ukraine and Russia was surprisingly quiet this week, other than a curious bit of escalation we’ll touch on in a bit, but the main matter of concern this week is rising prices and what they could mean. We’re also going to give you a preview of our publication plans.
Fuel and Food Prices
If you drive a gas-powered car, you probably felt pain at the pump this week. It’s over $4 per gallon in my little neck of the woods. It cost nearly $60 to half fill the tank of our Honda Pilot.
Oil prices were already over $100 per barrel when President Biden announced a ban on Russian oil and gas imports. Prices plunged after hitting $130 per barrel, but Rystad Energy says that $200 is still possible.
I anticipate high fuel prices for a while. The Russian war in Ukraine continues grinding along, and the United States isn’t on the best footing with OPEC at the moment. When’s the last time you heard of someone rejecting a call from a US president?
If you drive a Tesla like Stephen Colbert, you may be feeling a smug sense of satisfaction right now, but the cost of your own transportation is merely one piece of the puzzle. If you enjoy buying things in stores, like food, those things arrive at the store on trucks. And trucks are powered by diesel, and probably will be for a long time. When diesel costs more, trucking companies have to charge more, and thus stores have to charge more for those goods. Or they may gouge you and blame it on fuel prices. Either way, expect prices to rise even more.
Prices, of course, have already been high thanks to inflation, which is now officially at 7.9%, the highest since 1982.
While that’s bad news for you, you’re probably much better off than many others in the world. The head of the World Food Programme is warning that food prices are becoming “hell on earth.”
Ireland is considering “wartime” plans to prevent a famine, a thing which Ireland knows a thing or two about.
Iraq is hoarding wheat.
If a Middle Eastern country hoarding wheat sounds biblical, you’re not far off the mark. Sal Gilbertie, CEO of Teucrium Wheat, told Yahoo Finance:
“Remember, bread riots are what started the Arab Spring, bread riots are what started the French Revolution. It is a biblical event when you run low on wheat stocks. You won't see a global food shortage. Unfortunately, what you're going to see globally is that billions of people might not be able to afford to buy the food.”
Taking Action Against Food and Gas Prices
Some quick recommendations:
It’s good to store gas as I told you to, but it’s too late to beat the high gas prices. Unfortunately, the price of gas cans is also up. I’ve had my eye on a Justrite Type II can for a while and CamelCamelCamel tells me it’s at a record-high price of $114.70.
Now is a good time to stockpile food. Follow my guide on dry goods, but also stock up on canned goods that you like.
If you eat beef, hunt up a local rancher and ask about buying a half beef. The beef will be of better quality and much cheaper than what you buy at the store. If you don’t know where to start, search for independent slaughterhouses near you. They should be able to point you in the right direction. Each quarter of beef takes 4 cubic feet of freezer space, so for a half beef, you want a freezer that can handle 8 cubic feet. You’ll pay a big chunk of change upfront — especially if you need a freezer, but it’s worth it. My last half-beef should last a full year at an average price of $3 per pound.
It’s an excellent time to start a garden. Spring is almost here, get your seeds going!
About that Bio Lab Thing
You may have heard a conspiracy theory about biological labs in Ukraine. As it turns out, it’s not just a conspiracy theory. There’s a reason I’m telling you this story, please bear with me for a moment.
The other day, Senator Marco Rubio was questioning Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland. An interesting exchange occurred at the end. (I don’t care how you feel about Greenwald, just watch the clip.)
Rubio: “Does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?”
Nuland: “Ukraine has biological research facilities, which in fact we are quite concerned Russian troops — Russian forces — may be seeking to gain control of. So we are working with the Ukrainians on how they can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.”
Rubio went on to mention that Russian propaganda has been saying that the Ukrainians have been developing chemical and biological weapons. Rubio then asked Nuland if such an attack occurred, would the Russians be presumed responsible. She of course agreed.
Given that Nuland’s response was to a question about weapons, you could see how someone could interpret that to mean that the “biological research facilities” she mentioned are bioweapon labs.
China is now demanding answers:
But perhaps most interesting is the White House’s response:
The White House is denying that those labs are for bioweapon research, though Robert Pope of the Defense Department confirmed last month that there are US-linked labs in Ukraine studying deadly pathogens and Russia’s invasion risks releasing them. Pope reiterated that they’re not bioweapon facilities, but the Russians may not see a difference between an accidental or intentional release of a killer pathogen.
For our purposes, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the resulting escalation:
Russia is accusing the United States and Ukraine of developing illegal chemical and biological weapons.
China is joining Russia in that accusation.
The White House took those accusations seriously enough to issue a public response.
The United States is now accusing Russia of planning a “false flag” chemical or biological weapon attack.
The United States and the Russia/China alliance are now directly accusing each other of conspiracy to commit war crimes. Russia has called for a UN Security Council meeting today. Things could get interesting in a hurry.
A Peek into Unprepared’s Future…
Earlier this week, we published the first part of our nuclear war guide, in which we examined the myths and realities of nuclear weapons. I never expected the controversy this guide would stir up and I also didn’t expect to hear from some of our readers that we’re publishing way too much about nuclear war. I started on this uncomfortable journey because I had folks panicking and asking me questions, and I decided I had to provide some answers.
I’d like to share some of what we’re working on so you have an idea of what you’re paying for. The (good or bad) news is the second part of the nuclear war guide will be published soon and it will tell you how to increase your odds of survival. After that, we’re moving on to greener pastures:
Preparing for power outages
Designing resilient systems
Gardening, especially ways to reduce your reliance on outside inputs
Weapons (and do you need them?)
I can’t tell you exactly in what order those will come out or when. And that’s not everything we’re working on, either, just a sample of what’s in store. I’m moved both by my own muse and current events. We always try to deliver you timely information you can use, like our Ukraine invasion guide and the guide to starting seeds.
You may wonder why I keep using the word “we.” I promise it’s not a royal “we,” but simply signifies the fact that I couldn’t do this without my friends, advisors, our Discord community members, and you. And it also signifies big plans for the future. Unprepared is growing and we have knowledgeable writers knocking on the door wanting to contribute. Once Unprepared has enough paying subscribers that we can pay them fairly, we’re going to open that door. In fact, I’ve already commissioned our first outside contribution.
In the meantime, feel free to tell me what you’d like to learn from Unprepared. If you’re reading this through email, you can reply to the message. Otherwise, leave a comment or talk to us on Discord.