Sunday, April 06, 2008

why wont the tv work?

Or oops we blew the grid again.
If we remember we already did this awhile back. I remember some members of the CNN team howling about idiot Canadians forgetting to flip a switch or some such bullshit until it was discovered that it was in fact some idiot bunch of Americans who completely forgot that regular maintenance is really required to make the machines work.
Up until that moment I think they thought the secret electric substation fairies were doing it.
Luckily we were able to fix the mess and get the lights back on in a week or so, or three weeks for some.
So how did you do without electricity?
It kind of sucked right? It got boring and hot. For some it got boring,hot and fatal. The elderly don't cope well with extremes in temperature. Things got a little expensive too. Everybody who had a backup generator jacked the prices of food and drink up..just a little disaster price gouging. Hell, it's practically tradition right?
Let's think a little more deeply about how much we rely on electricity.
It's pretty much everything isn't it?
A short list: heat when it's cold, cold when it's hot, cold for our food and our drink to keep it fresh and safe, it runs the pumps at the gas station.
We do everything with electricity. We produce electricity about six different ways. We use oil, coal, nuclear, water,wind and solar but it all gets to converted to electricity doesn't it?
Let's say nothing has changed with the ingredients, they are all right there. Let's say we no longer have any way to deliver the end product.
How about the same group that were relying on magic to maintain the grid went back to that belief. Right at this very moment we have substations that honestly could use a little spring cleaning. Those substations are conveniently hooked up together in a giant loop. Some safety expert was concerned about power surging between substations so a fail safe got inserted that shuts down a substation that is misbehaving and that power gets diverted to the next substation in line..power sharing in the literal sense.Now lets say that substation isn't in any better shape than the one that failed and it tries to dump off it's load and the load of the first guy. You can see where I am going with this because in essence this is exactly what happened a few years back.
You will be cheered to know that the same system is still in place but it's okay, they had some meetings and everybody wrote some memos and promised to try to do a better job in the future. I am so reassured.
So when the north eastern grids do finally collapse it is going to effect two countries and a bunch of very large cities at first. Everyone will be very reassuring until they realize the only way to fix the mess is to rebuild the grid. Rebuilding the grid could take years with a very optimistic schedule.
In the mean time the south western grids are going to have to to pick up the slack anyway it can.
And you can guess what happens next. Unless you somehow believe half of Canada and the US are just going to sit patiently in the dark until the problem eventually gets fixed..heh..

Hard decisions are going to have to be made. Because politicians are involved nothing will get done it time. People in positions of power will be paralyzed with indecision . By the time they decide to bite the bullet and withdraw power from fifty percent of the Northern Hemisphere and only supply absolute survival necessities the grid will have fried.
It will happen pretty fast. A few weeks at most because we know that no one wants to sit in the cold and wait if they know relief is months or years away. They will pick up and move to where the grid is still running. A hundred million power refugees will hook into a grid that is already overwhelmed.
The remaining will be the poor. Too poor to afford to move. Because you and I know that once again disaster gouging will be rampant. Hotels, motels, studio apartments with power will rent for thousands of dollars.
Remember Katrina? Remember the hotel, water and gas prices? Not exactly charitable.

Those left behind will be on their own for the most part. The surviving grids will try to feed intermittent power when they'll be a little third world. And no NorthAmerican will be prepared for that shit.
We will have the regular looting and shooting for awhile until people get bored and or scared.
There may be pockets of creative thinkers hooking up available generators and then there will be the usual power struggles over who gets the benefits of that small amount of power.

Eventually all the grids will fail and power as we know it will disappear.
This is not to say power is unavailable, remember all the ingredients are all still available.It will just take some ingenuity to figure out a delivery service to those most in need.
If people can recover from the mad looting for big screens they can't plug in it's possible everyone will come together and learn how to set up solar and wind power quickly. Neighborhoods could share their services .
If everyone could stop panicking for a moment they would see there are lots of different ways to get power into their homes.
This is an entirely optimistic view of human nature.
It's probably more likely that technology and components will be hoarded and fought over.
We have rarely gone for co-operation when we can go for a gun.

If you want to survive the loss of a government grid you need a wind mill, some solar panels, some batteries and an inverter. They are sold as a kit for a couple thousand and any idiot can put them together. Failing solar panels build a brick coal/wood burning fireplace. It was the standard for home heat for a hundred years or so. Go back to the standard kitchen oven..the one that is wood/coal burning and heats your water including the hot water in your radiators,your showers and anywhere else you want hot water. It is not necessary to fall down in a heap and announce the end of the world just because the electrical grid failed. We survived for thousands of years without it, we can survive two years until it gets fixed.

But the problem is there will be a section of the world population who love conspiracies . Those 9/11 nuts and their friends who will terrorize everyone. They will snuff out reason and hope at every turn and they will worship at the temple of the irrational and they will have an audience. The disenfranchised, the poor, the insane..the power hungry happy to manipulate a vulnerable group. A large enough group of crazy people can sabotage any project , especially a project being run by compassionate, reasonable people. Some people are incapable of being political incorrect or downright cruel to the disenfranchised during a crisis of survival. They want everyone to survive and that is how we all get killed.
We allow these people to infect the group with wild ideas that distract and confuse. They make people frightened and now they don't want to work with there neighours. They self isolate because they believe they may be at risk. At risk from what these sour, bitter, crazy people never say but the fear is out there now. No communal work gets done. Everyone tries to complete their own project, they want to protect their own survival.
They are fulfilling the prophecy of the saboteurs. They are confirming conspiracy and that begins to breed paranoia and that paranoia breeds violence and still more fear. And this circle will go round and round til no one is left to whisper gossip in another's ear.

It wasn't the loss of electricity that did us in, once again it was our response to the loss that sent us into disaster. I still believe despite the crazy a lot of us can and will survive. There will be pockets of the rational fending off the paranoid rantings of the conspiracy nuts.

So so far we have proven we can survive global pandemic,drought and the failure of the electrical grid with just some very basic tools. We have seen where self isolation can save us and where it can destroy it us. We have seen over and over again that it's not the event that will kill us...always it will be how we react to that event.
If we hold on to rational thought, we hold on to the principles of science and we avoid at all costs the paranoid doomsayers, the political/religious power seekers and the mad and delusional filled with their own purpose we can survive.
It will take some ingenuity, some creative thought and a willingness to work towards the common good but not one of these three on their own can hold us down for long.


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