Global Politics, by Alberto Gómez-R. //
Europe is currently experiencing a serious systemic crisis derived from several factors that are having an impact at the same time and that have made European inhabitants attentive and alert to what is happening around them, forcing them to change their lifestyle.
European countries are experiencing a political-social crisis that goes back a long time but that due to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic and mandatory confinement they hid for almost two years, but now due to the effects, mainly economic, caused by the pandemic, come to light again, but exacerbated by the Russian-Ukrainian war, seeing how the central government of the European Union entered into a conflict alien to them but pushed by Washington, mainly, which has resulted in a worsening of its energy crisis by applying sanctions to the Russian Federation and preventing the sale of its hydrocarbons to countries highly dependent on these, for which they have once again reactivated the generation of energy with coal and other highly polluting fuels, increasing that acceleration factor of the greenhouse effect and the climate change.
Green, renewable energy sources, which are an ideal that could largely solve a large part of today’s multidimensional problems, are insufficient to supply the current demand for energy. The enormous influence of the big world oil companies has caused the development of clean energies -and many of them free- to develop, since they go against their interests and they will not allow their treasure to be taken from them.
The confrontation with Russia and the consequent cut off of the gas supply to continental Europe has triggered energy prices for months and consequently of all products by increasing direct and indirect expenses for the production of goods and services.
The rise in energy prices in Germany confirms fears that it is on the verge of the worst crisis in recent decades. The cost of electricity in the European locomotive has exceeded 500 euros per megawatt hour for the first time on Tuesday, so its impact will be felt both in homes and in companies.
The worst thing is that the situation shows no sign of easing. The high dependence of Germany on Russian gas exports and the attitude that the Putin government finally maintains after the supply is already being almost totally limited is worrying. For this reason, all European governments are designing saving measures in the face of possible blackouts this winter.
Not only has Germany exceeded the barrier of 500 euros in the price of a megawatt hour, Italy and France registered very similar values, although the price in the neighboring country exceeded 630 euros on Monday. The French case is determined by the fall in the production of its nuclear park, the backbone of the country’s electrical system, to the lowest levels in recent decades. This has made France a net importer of electricity and has left the whole of Europe more dependent on gas (the main component of the price of electricity) in order to keep the lights on.
“The longer the price rise continues, the more it will be felt throughout the economy,” said Daniel Kral, a veteran economist at the Oxford Economics consultancy. “The magnitude of the increase and of the crisis is not comparable to anything in recent decades,” he added. (cincodias.elpais.com)
Added to the political-social, economic and energy crisis, the most important factor is added and could become the catalyst for the breakup of the European Union: the water crisis.
The fertile plains of olive groves that stretch across southern Spain have made this country the largest producer of olive oil in the world, with around half of the global supply.
But, devastated by the worst drought ever recorded, Spain’s so-called “green gold” is increasingly scarce.
This year’s production is already down by about a third and there is no sign of rain yet.
“Buyers are already paying a third more than last year, but the drought will make it even more expensive,” says Juan Gadeo, director of the cooperative, who believes that this vital sector for Spain is now in danger.
“With the recession we may have to lay off some workers. There is a feeling of depression and uncertainty. Another year like this would be a real catastrophe.”
The situation is similar throughout the agricultural sector and recent research reveals that parts of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) are experiencing their worst drought in 1,200 years.
A recent report by the World Drought Observatory concluded that Europe is experiencing its worst drought in 500 years.
Several countries on the continent have suffered from forest fires and heat waves, and Spain has been particularly affected.
More than 270,000 hectares have been burned this year, according to the European Forest Fire Information System.(bbc.com)
The Rhine – an important river in Europe, the most used waterway in the European Union with a length of 1,230 km, is navigable for a stretch of 883 km between Basel (Switzerland) and its delta in the North Sea – one of the Europe’s main rivers and which, historically, has been an important trade route, dries up.
This poses big problems for the people and businesses that depend on it.
It is one of Europe’s great active rivers and industry in this area of Germany relies on barges to source and transport raw materials and finished goods to and from the power stations and factories that line the river’s banks. (bbc.com)
The Confederation of German Industry (BDI) warned on Tuesday that low river levels and drought threaten the security of supply chains.
“The persistent drought and the low level of the rivers threaten the security of supplies for the industry. Companies prepare for the worst. The already tense economic situation is becoming more serious, “says the German employers in a statement.
Ships on German river arteries do currently sail with reduced cargo.
Moving cargo that is normally transported by river to highways and rail is currently difficult due to several factors, including a shortage of drivers and the pandemic.
Low river levels may also aggravate power supply problems as transportation problems would affect government plans to temporarily increase coal use.
The statement warns that periods of drought like the current one in the future will not be the exception but the rule, so it calls for the creation of a system that allows an early reaction to problems that arise in river transport. (efe.com)
The severe drought in Germany is exposing the so-called Hungersteine (Hunger Stones) that contain warnings, in some cases centuries old, related to the danger that low river levels brought in the past.
In Saxony (eastern Germany) dozens of Hungersteine have been found, according to the daily Sachsische Zeitung. Normally those who wrote the warning also wrote the date of the drought.
On the Elbe river – the second longest of those that flow into the North Sea, after the Rhine – the oldest inscription dates from 1417. The warning, “If you see me, cry”, has been related to the fact that one of the consequences of the drought was that there were bad harvests, which in turn could lead to famine. (dw.com)
Germany, being the strongest economy in Europe, and on whom the countries with the weakest economies in the euro zone depend, will be pressured to cut its economic contributions provided for in the budgetary framework of the European Union (EU) with a view to 2021- 2027, which will increase disagreements from the other member countries, and will be a factor that continues to give arguments to political and social currents about the debate on the permanence of the European Union as such.
Water is already a key strategic factor that will continue to set the tone for the economy, geopolitics and social development in the coming years, in which the crisis of the precious liquid will intensify.