the lights are going out (but not here, yet)

A story by Tom Whipple in Energy Bulletin yesterday, about how South Asia is running out of power (I noticed this in Nepal when I was there in January, in Bhaktapur – the power was off for at least half the time and I only got one hot shower in the four days I was there). He makes the point that this will particularly affect urban areas – in many rural areas (or even older cities like Bhaktapur) they barely had power at all in the first place, and if you want water you go to the well (though of course that has its own problems) – but if you are in the middle of a modern city and your water stops because your electric pump has gone out, and you’re on the however-many-th floor up, how are you going to deal with that?

So this is how the retreat begins – a nibbling away in the poorer parts of the world of what we, in the rich world, have taken for granted. When and in what form will it reach our shores? And what happens then? I don’t worry too much about Texas – though no doubt it will get plenty hotter – but what about places where power is essential pretty much full time? What happens when the heating goes out in Toronto or Minneapolis in winter? Or Los Angeles or Phoenix loses air conditioning? How are the Americans going to take that?

On a related note, this nice graphic from the World Resources Institute was linked to from a story in the Guardian about which industries emit most CO2:

Air travel just 1.7%, driving around 10%, livestock 5.4%. So travel on the surface by public transport, source your food locally where you can – and don’t eat meat (drops in the ocean, but then drops in the ocean is how we got here in the first place….) But what else are you going to do? How, as an individual  to make a start on cement production? Iron and steel? Energy use in commercial buildings, when your employer (as mine does) keeps the air-conditioning on so low – 16°C – that my nose chills and my hands start to seize up? I have to step out into the desert heat once in a while to get warm and functional again. And next week they are having a conference on sustainability…

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