What are we reading? September 30, 2021

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

Fire-hardening houses through the use of concrete siding, metal roofs with no gutters or air vents, and no nearby vegetation, are among measures called for under a new Oregon plan to protect homes from wildfires. But some homeowners are pushing back. – NPR



This thoughtful piece on the potentially deadly consequences of giving air to COVID-19 misinformation in newspaper op-eds should be required reading for reporters and editors:

“When it comes to opinion journalism, it’s on editors to ensure that it isn’t just the loudest often self-proclaiming experts who are provided with a platform for their views and ideas, but those with demonstrated expertise, humility, and thoughtfulness, as they often add immeasurable value to the public conversation….”  – elemental



Glen Korstrom, reporter

The crimp in supply chains is pushing up prices for raw materials, labour and containers for shipping. The result is manufacturers are seeing profit margins shrink. The question is whether this is a temporary phenomenon/ – Barron’s



We could be hearing about the U.S. debt ceiling for a while and this good short read is a good explainer of the phenomenon, how it works and why it matters – Wall Street Journal



Merging the MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX always seemed unlikely, although the concept fueled headlines pre-pandemic. 

The two largest North American soccer leagues have been increasing games between the leagues’ teams, however, and that is poised to increase in the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup that includes games in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. – The Athletic



Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

China's great big debt problem is now the world's great big debt problem – Foreign Policy



Dear landlord: I'm a restaurant owner, and I'm a touch light in the wallet this month. Might be a touch light for a couple of months. Will you accept food and drink in lieu? That's likely a familiar refrain for a lot of landlords in a lot of Canadian provinces and American states, according to the September rent report from Alignable. The report finds that 51% of restaurants and 38% of Canadian small businesses surveyed can't pay their rent this month.  



Anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, Deep State zombies and other fans of misinformation will be happy to know that the social media incubator of idiocy and irrationality and other sources of bilge and bathwater are accelerating the  global supply of misinformation and bad data – The Atlantic



Nelson Bennett, reporter

One of the problems with electricity as an energy source is that it’s not nearly as easy to store and transport as coal or chemical fuels, and therefore not widely exported. But Australia and Singapore are planning to address the problem with a staggering $22 billion solar energy project that will see solar power produced in Australia and exported to Singapore via a 5,000 kilometre marine transmission line. It will require a solar farm 10 times bigger than anything built to date massive battery storage, and will supply about 15% of Singapore’s electricity. -- New Atlas


China and the U.K. are currently going through different kinds of energy crises, both of which underscore how reliant those countries are on free trade. China is rationing electricity and part of the problem is its embargo against Australian coal imports. In the UK, Brexit has caused a shortage of lorry drivers because European drivers can no longer work visa-free in Britain, resulting in a lack of drivers to deliver gasoline and diesel to gas stations, which are now out of gas. But there are also fundamental supply problems, and as this Al Jazeera piece points out, the U.S. can’t simply respond to a spike in demand for things like coal, oil, gasoline and natural gas because investment in fossil fuels has been deliberately squelched. -- Al Jazeera