As we approach the end of August, Europe is still in the stranglehold of the summer. For weeks, the sun has been relentless with record-breaking heat and the absence of rain has left soil dry and rivers running dangerously low with water. In Germany, so-called ‘hunger stones’ emerged from the drying rivers that have been harbingers of famine in the past. When water would run as low as to make these stones visible, it would have serious effects on food production. While these issues are no longer as severe as in the 17th century, due to advances in crop production and irrigation, it still affects modern society in more than one way. With water levels dropping rapidly, freight ships can no longer traverse major rivers and power plants no longer have enough cooling water. In a period of stressed supply chains and amidst an energy crisis, this is far from good news. Additionally, the combination of low water levels and heat have apparently accelerated the growth of poisonous algae in the Oder River that has killed tons of fish. In what was first thought to be a chemical spill seems to be nature’s way to adapt to a changing environment.
In Ukraine, the Russians have also adapted to the changes of last week. After several attacks on airfields, supply infrastructure and ammunition depots during the last week, the Ukrainians are threatening to cut off thousands of Russian troops from supplies and basically trapping them north of the Dnipro River in a natural pocket. The Russians have reacted by moving more troops to the South of Ukraine and bolstering their air force in the region. As offensive actions have been slowing down on all sides, the war is bound to continue as a war of attrition and well into the end of the year.
We are slowly approaching number 200 of the Global Crisis Watch that has been running since March 2020 trying to make sense of and keeping up with the coronavirus. For almost a year now we have discussing various crises all over the world. We invite you again to join us this week as we count down to 200.