Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The End of Civilization As We Know It

Well no, hurricane Irene was just a lot of wind and rain. Now the CW is that it was overhyped and it didn't really amount to anything, but that isn't true either. I lost electrical power at 5:00 Sunday morning and I don't expect to get it back for a week. The entirety of southern Windham County and as far as I know most of Connecticut to the south and west is without electricity. Outside of the cities, that also means no water. Most people don't have phone service either. That means you can't buy gasoline, the traffic lights don't work, the food is rotting in the grocery stores (the big ones have generators for emergencies, but not most of the mom and pop businesses).

I had 1 hr. worth of battery power in my computer so I did an Iraq Today post, checked my e-mail and the news a couple of times, and then went dead. I've bolted to my urban pied a terre from whence this missive.

Now here's the point. One hundred years ago, rural areas didn't have electricity and it wasn't terribly important anywhere. You could always break out the old kerosene lamps if need be; there was no telephone, radio, TV or Internet; you kept food cold in an ice box and you cooked and heated with coal or wood. If you didn't have city water you pumped it by hand.

Today, electricity is pretty much a necessity. I can't even maintain an acceptable standard of hygiene without it, which means I can't go to work. We're completely locked in, the current human population of North American cannot be maintained without steady, reliable electrical power zapping its way into every household. It cannot be undone. So Irene was a big deal, not in the sense that we're all gonna die (although a few people who need electrically powered machinery to keep them alive might, if they aren't properly rescued). But it does prove something to us. If the electricity goes away for too long, we have no way of existing.


C. Corax said...

You're talking about CT. Parts of Western Mass and VT got whacked real bad, with major roads washed out, record flooding, etc. Not having electricity is the least of their problems.

However, you make a good point. I think that part of the issue with electricity is that it allows a denser population to be supported in cities, with fewer negative health effects (you will recall the color of your average urban building before the coming of electricty...). We would adjust before we become extinct, but we'd denude our forests in the process, there'd be erosion, er, flooding, disease. Not eschatological, but a survivalist's wet dream were it to happen suddenly. Which it won't.

Anonymous said...

Man up a little Bart. You appear to be masculine yet you act so much like a woman. You can't survive without electricity for a few days? What do you think will happen when the EPA shuts down 1/3 of the electricity production in the US by 2018. Learn to provide for yourself instead of depending on everyone else. The only catch is that if you depend on yourself, you only have yourself to blame for any shortcomings. said...

No doubt, the chap is totally fair.

xlpharmacy said...

is simple, we humanity need to back to basic things, tell me is really need to have all the stuff we have in our days? I don't think so, with few the human can survive perfectly.