Posts tagged with "Extreme weather"

Girl Scout Cookies crumble under supply chain woes, labor shortage

March 14, 2023

For some Girl Scouts and their baked goods’ fans, it’s shaping up to be another tough cookie season, reports The Washington Post.

Blame the COVID pandemic for the wildly vacillating supply and demand over the past two years: a surplus of unsold cookies in 2021 and supply chain issues in 2022.

And 2023 looks as if it will not be less problematic. Last month, the Girl Scouts’ hotly anticipated new cookie sold out faster than Beyoncé tickets, and wound up on eBay for four times the price.

Louisville-based Little Brownie Bakers this week blamed the familiar forces of supply chain and labor shortages, with extreme weather thrown into the mix, for production delays that have disrupted this season’s cookie fulfillment efforts. Little Brownie Bakers is one of only two companies licensed to make the cookies—and it bakes for the vast majority of Girl Scout needs.

“We share the frustration that some Girl Scout troops feel this cookie season,” Little Brownie Bakers said in a statement on Thursday, March 9, assuring Girl Scouts and their customers that “the teams in our bakery have been working overtime to make sure troops get their initial orders.”

In an email to The Washington Post on Saturday, a spokesperson for Little Brownie Bakers said that while a host of issues have affected the selling season, the bakery is “on track to fulfill initial orders.”

“Still, LBB has produced more Girl Scout cookies at this time than last year, and our teams at the bakery are working hard to ensure initial orders are filled,” the spokesperson said.

Leadership for the Teamsters Local 783, which represents an array of jobs at the facility—including bakers, mixers, forklift drivers, caramel mixers, and mechanics—did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Across the United States, Girl Scout councils—the broader geographic body that comprises local troops—contract with Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakers, the only two facilities licensed to make the cookies. According to CNBC, Little Brownie Bakers supplies 75% of all local troops, which have struggled this season to meet sales goals amid the delays.

Annual revenue from the cookie program is a key funding source for local councils, which take the larger share of the sales; and for the individual troops, which use the proceeds to pay for activities, travel and other supplies.

“We know this was another unexpected setback to councils supplied by Little Brownie Bakers during an already challenging cookie season,” Girl Scouts USA said in a statement addressing the delays. The national organization pledged to “soften the impact of these ongoing issues” but did not immediately respond Saturday when asked to elaborate.

As the 2023 cookie season winds down, it’s unclear how the Girl Scouts might mitigate the persistent supply issues—but they aren’t alone in facing these challenges or scrambling for answers, said Jonathon Swart, who manages perishable food transportation strategies for BlueGrace Logistics.

The interconnectedness of the food supply chain means it can be easily shaken by local or global disruptions, ranging from extreme weather in Kentucky, which shuts downs ground transit; to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has hindered two of the world’s biggest grain exporters, Swart said.

“When you’re a manufacturer used to being able to source ingredients with consistency, even a three-week delay can totally throw off the schedule of these facilities that are running 24-hour production,” Swart said.

The Girl Scouts, which lack a diverse manufacturing base, face even more limited options. “Maybe they bring in another supplier, another bakery that could help them be more diverse,” Swart said of the production side. “But this is a problem faced across all food manufacturing over the past several years.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Grim climate report galvanizes incoming Democrats

November 27, 2018

Federal scientists warned in a new report released on November 23 that “more frequent and intense extreme weather- and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities nationwide” in the coming years—with costs threatening to reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually by the middle of this century.

The message, echoing decades of sobering conclusions from the world’s leading climate scientists, is at odds with President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of global warming, Politico reported; noting that the administration chose to release it on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day and one of the slowest news days of the year.

But despite the timing, the report—Fourth National Climate Assessment—is bound to energize the new class of progressive Democrats set to take control of the House in January, the political news outlet predicted—saying that “Many of them, led by incoming Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-14th District, New York) already are pushing for an expansive “Green New Deal” as one of the rallying cries the party would take into the 2020 campaign.

The 1,600-plus-page document is the just the most recent to warn that the planet will see devastating changes. Indeed, the researchers warned, “Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems—including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security.”

The effects of global warming are expected to alter the coastlines, worsen droughts and storms, and foster the outbreaks of dangerous diseases as temperatures climb.

And while the report said that quick action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution could dramatically affect the state of the planet by the end of the century, many of the impacts the U.S. will see in the next two decades appear irreversible—both on the environment and on the economy. “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30th District, Texas) who is set to take the gavel at the House Science Committee, said it’s time to start addressing the causes of the wildfires, devastating storms, coastal flooding and toxic algae blooms that plagued much of the U.S. this year, Politico reported. “That is why I have made climate change one of my top priorities for the Committee going in to the next Congress,” she said in a statement.

The government officials who oversaw the report said there had been no political influence over its findings, but they sidestepped questions about whether the White House sought to bury the report by releasing it in the middle of a long holiday weekend, Politico said.

“We hope you will focus on the content of the report,” David Reidmiller, the director of the National Climate Assessment, told reporters. “We think the report speaks for itself.”

Ocasio-Cortez pressed the case in a tweet, taking her Democratic colleagues to task: “People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP. It’s not enough to think it’s ‘important.’ We must make it urgent,” she wrote. “That’s why we need a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, & why fossil fuel-funded officials shouldn’t be writing climate change policy.

The White House tried to downplay the new report’s conclusions Friday, claiming that they are “largely based on most extreme scenarios.” The White House also noted that U.S. greenhouse gas pollution has declined 14% since 2005—although the causes of that drop include trends that Trump opposes, such as a shift away from coal-fired power plants.

The new report, which Congress requires to be issued every four years, was released by U.S. Global Change Research Program. It is the product of 300 scientific experts under the guidance of a 60-member federal advisory committee, and it was open to review by the public, 13 federal agencies, and a panel at the National Academy of Sciences.

Research contact: @dailym1