Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The unfolding situation in Europe

We've been watching with great concern the unfolding situation in Europe.This morning we saw a headline: "Back To The Old Days: Europeans Panic-Buy Firewood And Stoves." Since energy prices are skyrocketing to the point of unaffordability, people are scrambling to find some way to keep from freezing during the upcoming winter.

While woodstoves and firewood are an excellent solution, the unpleasant fact is there is only so much wood and so many stoves available; and, of course, not every structure can accommodate wood heat.

Obviously there are a great many contributing factors to Europe's predicament – wars, pipeline sabotage, strikes, economic uncertainty, industrial collapse, political policies – but the combined result is the same: Untold misery for millions upon millions of innocent Europeans across many nations.

Some say what happens in Europe will soon come to America. Yes and no. Certainly people should strive to lessen their vulnerability to issues beyond their control when it comes to critical necessities such as food, water, and heat; but America has a whole different set of issues and circumstances we're dealing with. Whatever befalls us will not necessarily be a duplication of what is befalling Europe.

What Europe does illustrate, however, is the growing cracks taking place worldwide in matters of security with energy, food, finances, etc. What many thought was a solid foundation of rock is revealed to be a foundation of shifting sand.

My conclusions from watching the unfolding situation in Europe is this: watch and learn. There isn't a whole lot most of us can do to influence national or international policies. But there's a lot we can do to help ourselves be less vulnerable when those policies translate to the ground level. Starting now.

If any blog readers are in Europe, please let us know what's happening in your area.


  1. I lived in Germany in 2000, then again from 2002-2006. I have friends there who are basically family, and I'm in daily contact with them.

    One of the things that made living in Germany easier for me was that I was employed by the American forces there, and I had jobs that allowed me to buy things on the US military bases in dollars and allowed me to get tax back on certain items, etc. One of the biggest perks was being able to buy gas at US prices because the price of fuel was already crazy high compared to the US.

    Ten years ago or more, the big "trend" seemed to be for those who could to have wood-burning stoves. Being as a lot of the houses there are really old, many houses have retained the ability to heat by wood, especially in rural areas.

    Most houses and apartments are heated by radiator, but they are thin, wall units, and they heat rooms individually. People are fanatical about turning them off if you're leaving the house, going to bed, or otherwise not going to be in an area occupying said space for awhile. Funny story - I lived in a farmhouse (rented a room) on a farm in Bavaria from 2002-2004. Of course, I was reminded to turn the radiator off if I wasn't around. That last year, I had a job where I worked from 6pm-2:30am, and after awhile, I noticed that when I got home, the room never heated up. I asked the people who owned the house & it turned out that the whole house was heated by wood & they never had heat "going" from about 8:30pm until morning. In this instance, I was granted the exception that I could leave the radiator on somewhat while I was gone at work!

    I have friends who live in a place where wood is an option. I also has a friend who figures that he and his mom are going to freeze - they live in a "modern" apartment in the city, and apart from whether they can afford their heat, there's the issue if there will be fuel to be had. And this was before the explosions on the Nordstream 2!

  2. I have no doubt that Europe is going to have its hands full this winter. I've got to wonder though; Nordstream 1 has been on line since 2011. That's 11 years. What did these folks do before the pipeline? What's to keep them from falling back to that system? ...Just trying to keep both eyes open here...

    1. A lot of Western Europe's power came from nuclear power plants, but the "green energy" folk convinced the "leaders" of these countries to scrap nuclear power.

  3. I have a feeling that here in North America, rural people should be fairly ok, but in the cities...let's just say that I would not want to be in an apartment right now. Food costs will go up faster than incomes, a person has to cut back somewhere, turning off heat may be the only option in winter, and turning off air conditioning in the summer. By the way, I used to clean an old stove exactly like the one in your top picture.

  4. I live in Germany and was a bit surprised to read your article - nice to get feedback from an American perspective, thanks!
    So, Germany.
    Germany has a government coalition of Social Democrats, Green Party and, sadly, what remains of the Liberal Party. The main goal of the Green party is to fight climate change/the climate crisis; there is a radical wing of the Green Party who believe that Germany must be virtually deindustrialized so as to lower its CO2 emmissions. This is a radical wing of the party, mind you, and I can't say what traction within the Green Party. What's more of a problem is that many Green MPs have, sadly, not an ounce of knowledge of how the economy works. There has been a push for "young, female, diverse" MPs in Parliament, and these are mainly women in their early twenties who started studying sociology or theatre at university and then drifted into politics. They are, sadly, ignorant of economic realities, both of the country and of the population in general. So we have ignorant, ideology-driven people pushing for an end to fossile energy and, partly, an end to industrial production. It's bizzarely stupid, but hey, I didn't vote for them.
    On the other hand, Chancellor Merkel decided to get out of nuclear energy in 2005 (after Fukushima, which apparently scared her badly). So they set a deadline to close down the German nuclear power plants around this point. Now, renewables cannot replace them, they do not generate electicity regularly, either you get too much or too little or nothing at all (think day without wind and sunshine.). So you need a reliable backup source of energy. In comes Russia, selling huge quantities of natural gas to Germany, which it then uses in its power plants to generate electricity, heat houses and so on.
    Russia invades Ukraine, Germany decides to sanction Russia and not buy any gas, however, Greens (ideology-driven and absolutely unaware of what this will mean for the economy and for people) continue to shut down nuclear power plants. So no gas and no nuclear power, at the same time HUGE costs to run the country (much of the money goes to redistribution of wealth schemes), politicians resort to advice like "do not shower, it's enough if you use a washcloth". Heavens, I KNOW how to use a washcloth, but it's the responsibility of the government to keep the economy up and running, or we will all suffer.
    With energy prices soaring, lots of businesses can't produce without accumulating losses, so they are closing down. More unemployed, bad for the middle class. Big businesses are using their spokespeople to inform the administration that they can't work under these conditions, energy is too expensive. Chemical industry, automotive industry - they are in big, big trouble.
    Meanwhile, many people are worried, but not worried enough not to vote for the Greens or the Social Democrats, and can't believe that bad things happen to good people, especially them.
    We've had an extraordinarily cold September, people were cold but many didn't turn up their heating because it would be too expensive; my friend, for instance, has been notified she'll have to pay 50 Euros a month more to cover her energy costs; people who just manage to hang on economically are not going to be able to pay their bills with energy prices and inflation so high. I don't know what is going to happen at all.

    1. So sorry to hear firsthand about your woes. While we have an incredible amount of fuel, the same idiotic incompetent government people here are throttling production of fuel, production of food, and industry.

  5. I'd love to sympathize, but it's a self-inflicted wound.

    1. Not really, no. It is a wound immensely privileged people have inflicted on less privileged people.

  6. It is a self-inflicted wound for almost every Western country. We are under attack, a subversive war has pushed this on us and most of our enemies are involved to some degree. China for example, they want to be the biggest economy in the world and then use that position to rule the world. The only thing standing in their way is the U.S. and the U.S. strength has always been it's educated and free middle class so that is why our politicians are trying to destroy the middle class. Yes that means our politicians have been bought and that they are traitors to their own country. Many of the immigrants to the U.S. seek political power as well and once they have it they use it to destroy what they have power over. Europe has these same problems but some European countries are just further along in the destruction phase. It will require a revolution, peaceful if possible where the citizens recognize and vote out the traitors but history shows us that ultimately it will become violent and most likely initiated by the corrupt politicians and not the docile citizens. Think of the J6 prisoners as an example of your future. Good luck!

  7. UK reader here. yes our prices have/are going up. yes electricity for heating for the winter maybe a worry. yes the sutuation in Russia is a concern. However mostly life has not changed.