Friday, November 25, 2022

leaving Europe behind


How the world is leaving Europe behind

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Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is using energy as a weapon. Our data journalists set themselves a difficult question: how many people is this weapon likely to kill outside Ukraine? The answer they came up with was alarming. Although heatwaves get more press, cold temperatures are usually deadlier than hot ones. To estimate the relationship between energy costs and deaths, we built a statistical model that predicts how many people die per winter week in each of 226 European regions. This model found that a 10% rise in electricity prices is associated with a 0.6% increase in deaths, concentrated among the elderly and infirm. If the historical relationships between mortality, weather and energy costs continue to apply—which they may not, given how high current prices are—the death toll from the energy weapon could exceed the number of soldiers who have died so far in direct combat from bullets, shells, missiles and drones. It is one more reason why Ukraine’s fight against Russia is Europe’s, too. 
Our data team’s work sets the scene for our cover this week. Europe faces a crisis of energy and geopolitics that will weaken it—and could threaten its global position. If you ask Europe’s friends around the world what they think of the old continent’s prospects they often respond with two emotions. One is admiration. In the struggle to help Ukraine and resist Russian aggression, Europe has displayed unity, grit and a principled willingness to bear enormous costs. But the second is alarm. A brutal economic squeeze will pose a test of Europe’s resilience in 2023 and beyond. There is a growing fear that the recasting of the global energy system, American economic populism and geopolitical rifts threaten the long-run competitiveness of all European countries, Britain included. The worry is not just about the continent’s prosperity; the health of the transatlantic alliance is at risk, too.

Zanny Minton Beddoes

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The world this week

Russian bombs and missiles have damaged half of Ukraine’s power systems, said the Ukrainian government. Widespread blackouts are likely in the coming months, it warned. Evacuations of civilians have begun from the recently liberated parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, where Russian attacks have been especially brutal. The WHO said millions of Ukrainians face a “life-threatening” winter.

More from Politics this week

In a shock move, Disney ousted Bob Chapek as chief executive after just 33 months in the job, and brought back Bob Iger, the previous CEO, to replace him. Senior executives lost confidence in Mr Chapek’s leadership, which came to a head when the latest quarterly earnings revealed rising losses at Disney+, the company’s premium streaming service. Mr Chapek also earned the ire of the creators of Disney’s content when he restructured the business around a policy of streaming first, taking creative control out of their hands. Mr Iger led Disney for 15 years during a period of growth, when it took over Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel studios.

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