Blackout

Someone once said you are only three meals from anarchy.  So it was with some trepidation I watched a docu drama on Channel 4 television (UK) called “Blackout”.  Trepidation because I thought the drama would be quite harrowing, and it was.  As a drama I thought it semi worked.  (Others have been quite critical).  The idea was that the people involved in situation in the blackout filmed it on their mobiles (whose batteries lasted implausible amounts of time).  This worked quite well (obviously a lot was shot as a third party view on normal digital cameras).  The main problem was that the people who wrote it ensured we followed for the most part extreme and unsympathetic characters.  However, as a concept the drama worked very well.  Anyone watching Blackout could have been left in no doubt about our extreme dependency on very large amounts of ready high grade energy.  There was of course things you would never of thought about.  The blackout (apparently caused by a cyber attack) only affected the electricity grid, but traffic chaos soon descended cause traffic lights were down and no one could refuel since the pumps on filling stations have no back up power.  This of course would paralyse the emergency services and food distribution.  Being self sufficient is no solution since once those around you know they would attack you (there was a rapid breakdown in law and order with widespread looting).

What we are wrote about in “No oil in the lamp” was a gradual diminution of our current system, even in our worst case futurology scenario it takes years for the collapse of civilisation.  Can we learn anything from this drama (since hopefully a cyber attack is unlikely) a sudden collapse of our energy system is remote*?

Microgrids, covered on this blog in the past, are probably not much help as they would be linked to the national grid by internet or intranet control.  Other things like making our food systems more localised or resilient would seem more useful.  Local communities planning ahead about how to cope in such situations and how to to protect the vulnerable would seem a good idea and the transition movement has been involved in such discussions.  Churches could be the focal point of all this of course.  But ultimately there seems little we can do except pray such a scenario never occurs. Working towards a post oil system would help to make us more able to cope.  Finally I hope if threatened I would manage to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5v39).

Neil

* The exception to this is an electromagnetic pulse from sun activity.  This could burn everything electrical and electronic out since all of these things act as an aerial.  It would take years to get the grid up an running not a week as in “Blackout”.  The crazy thing is protecting the grid against this is possible and the cost is very low.

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