The 5-hour Blackout : A look into Life without Electricity

in StemSocial3 months ago

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A few days ago, a fraction of our region gone black less than an inch before midnight. It was about 5 hours of blackout, and, in instances, no one knows why until the sun rises high at noon. Our electricity is back before the rooster crowing to open up a new workday. Although we can point out familiar causes, people have bizarre and peculiar reasoning on what happened, as if the cause of the blackout was a needle in a haystack.

I was strolling in social media and laughed out how bizarre Filipinos think of the cause of the power blackout. Some linked it to a political plot to discredit and pressure our government, while some pointed out geomagnetic storms and hacking. But the reason was not out of the blue like what social media power experts do believe. I went to check the operation data of our grid operator, and I find nothing unusual to power demand, and it still had enough room for more loads since it was lower than the critical loading. So overloading wasn't the issue. If it was, a load dropping, cutting out less essential loads in the grid, must commence preventing the blackout.

Late that evening before the outage, it was raining, and a thunderstorm was ongoing. I was not surprised when our power ministry announced the cause of the blackout later that day. A bolt of precise lightning hit a transmission line of the Visayas grid that triggers a simultaneous trip, which causes blackout in some areas in the region. When others go over social media to sort out what happens or speculate about it, I enjoy the silence since it has been a while to hear silence. But what if the blackout prolongs for a week, month, and maybe to a year.


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It is most likely that you're reading this article on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Most likely in a brightly lighted area in your house, a café, or in an office. Whether I am writing the blog or you are reading it, or whatever we are doing right now, one thing ties everyone. What we use and where we use due to electricity. We've never given a second thought. We take electricity as a gift of convenience, comfort, and safety. It also alleviates our boredom with little regard for the miracles it bestows.

Electricity isn't just for convenience that we can flick a switch or suck up the dirt. But electricity gives us automation and the internet that makes our lives seemingly comfortable and digitally connected. With the appliance, we can do chores that do not take toil and time. Once electricity went missing out of thin air, every convenience we have will be on the drain. Without electricity, we can't have water in our taps and flush in our toilets. We will not have heating or cooling.

While we still have roofs in our heads, life will be different without electricity, like reliving the stone age. We rely heavily on electricity to light our city streets and lost convenience when traveling at night. Our healthcare may not strive to progress. Our vaccinations and medications need electricity to increase shell life through cold storage. Our doctors will not have the surgical equipment, and we will have pre-industrial age hospitals. There is almost no aspect of our lives that does not necessitate electricity.

We love entertainment, and without electricity, our lives will be at boredom's expense. We can't play video games or watch our favorite shows. Reading by candlelight will be one of the few options for entertainment as much as jamming through acoustics. Life as we know it would come to a standstill if we did not have power. Despite our ancestors lived and survived for thousands of years without electricity, we have grown to rely on it to perform our routines that we became too dependent on it. We will be surprised if suddenly we can't have it.


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Although our ancestors lived for thousands of years without electricity, we can't compare it to us. We heavily rely on it to perform the routines that we grow dependent on it. Our lives work around it. When it disappears, we won't be surprised that our lives become chaotic. We will try to run for supplies like water and food. There is a possibility that our toilets overflow, especially those living in condos. We can foresee riots and lotting as people will try to get their hand to supplies. For some, it will seemingly feel like the end of their lives. Without electricity, we will lose countless people in just a few hours.

When I was thinking about a life without electricity and reading several articles, I discovered that around 940 million people lived without it in 2019. While we complain for an hour of a power outage, some people have never had electricity for years, even after years since the industrial age. It is a sad truth, but it is our reality. Some Africans experienced this reality daily. About two-thirds don't have electricity in the continent. We seldom hear in the news about Africa's energy crisis which is not like the droughts, health, and illiteracy. A handful of Africans lived a life without electricity, and we see devastating the effects can be. But on a good note, they thrive a life out of such circumstances.

When our electricity is suddenly gone, our lives will be in chaos and panic, at first, especially with our growing dependence on it. But people are living it every day in their lives while we whine for some hours of outage. It made me think that living without electricity may thrive after chaos. We see people lived to it day by day. They thrive a life out of it. Our electricity may not magically lose in thin air, but we can at least learn not to be too dependent. What we need is to relearn a way of life without it, confronting the unsettling reality of a world without electricity.

My 5-hour blackout experience happened at the sprout of the moment, came unannounced. It was a calm night and peaceful. I enjoyed the silence. The sounds of crickets are calming my anxious self. I may not think of it as frequent, but a world without electricity shows a duality of a moment, where peace and chaos blend. I may sound contradictory, but calmness and peacefulness come at the first second we lose our electricity before chaos and panic take over. Again, our electricity may not be gone for good, but it is a good thing to ponder upon a world without it.

Readings on Life without electricity

  1. Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser, Access to Energy, Our World in Data

  2. Kevin Watkins, Imagine life without electricity – that's the reality for two-thirds of Africa, and the results are devastating, Independent UK

  3. Monica Corcoran, Pictures: A World Without Energy, National Geographic

  4. Megan Rowling, One in seven people still live without electricity: World Bank, Reuters

  5. Janine Peralta, Over 2.3 million households remain without electricity – NEA, CNN Philippines

  6. Seán Mfundza Muller and Mike Muller, South Africa’s energy crisis has triggered lots of ideas: why most are wrong, The Conversation

News Report on Visayas Grid Blackout

  1. Sarwell Meniano, Lightning strike eyed as cause of Visayas-wide blackout, Philippine News Agency

  2. Cathrine Gonzales , Power restored in Visayas areas hit by blackout — NGCP, Inquirer

Photo Credits

  1. A power outages in Ouagadougou | Photographed by Jeff Attaway

  2. A power outage occurred in Kaesong Folk Hotel, North Korea | Photographed by Roman Harak

  3. Breakfast by candlelight during a power outage | Photographed by Ross Harmes

  4. The streets of Tromsø seemed unfamiliar, strange and very dark during a power outage. | Photographed by Bjørn Egil Johansen

  5. Joralemon Tubes Service Restoration after A burning feeder cable on Willow Pl., Brooklyn Heights, caused a loss of power to signals in the Joralemon Tubes that carry the 4 & 5 lines under the East River on Thu., August 20, 2015. | Photo from Marc A. Hermann/ Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

  6. An image of a boy during a power outage. | Photo from Nicki Varkevisser

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Blackout is not something strange around here. In fact, having electricity is considered strange in some places as the default is not to have it. It is quite interesting to study people that have never been in darkness or not use to it. Like when there was darkness in some parts of the United States a few months ago.

Sad to know that blackout is normal than having electricity. I often not hear about Africa's power situation not until today. Having your testimony, validates the statistics and it seems more than the statistics. Is the power situation in Africa due to politics? Enjoy some !PIZZA

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 3 months ago 

I have several back up electrical sources for the occasional power outages in the States.

It’s actually increasingly harder to function without it the more digitised the world becomes.

This reminds me, I might need to stock up on some candles for when I burn through my power supply.

It’s actually increasingly harder to function without it the more digitised the world becomes.

Indeed, we can't function without electricity. It becomes our way of life. A total blackout has a slim chance to occur unless we experience a geomagnetic storm or someone hijacks our grid lines.

This reminds me, I might need to stock up on some candles for when I burn through my power supply.

I do have stocks of candles and a gas lamp in case outage occurs.

Enjoy some !PIZZA

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Hi @juecoree, your experience of 5 hours without electricity at night, allowing you to enjoy the pleasure of silence, is very inspiring and reflective.

I share your opinion of depending on electricity in everyday life.

It is practically the energy that activates and maintains the development of activities, to a greater or lesser extent. Even though there are countries that have serious problems of electricity supply, as part of the inequalities and asymmetries of the current unsustainable development.

I share the importance of your reflection of a world without electricity.....o depend less on it.
I enjoyed your publication, congratulations!

Hi @raizayanez, I appreciate the kind words. Indeed, the 5-hour blackout indulged me with silence and much needed break from cities' busyness. At first, I think the blackout screw up my momentum on what I was doing but It wasn't. The blackout help me think through. Enjoy some !PIZZA

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Sometimes, it's fun to have no electricity because this is usually the time when the family comes together. We usually drop our devices and play with our board games or cards.

But recently, my sister got a portable power station because she works from home. Whenever we have no electricity we just plug in the modem there so we have wifi. It's kinda handy hehe.

Right now, when we have an outage I usually sleep, especially when its night time. It's just so peaceful

Sometimes, it's fun to have no electricity because this is usually the time when the family comes together.

I had some memorable experience when outages occur too.

Hi, @juecoree electricity has brought many benefits and modern life, that is undoubted. As you rightly relate, you looked for a way to spend those hours without electricity, with yourself. The uncertainty caused by a power outage is increasing as time goes by, and being informed of some causes is healthy. Moments of reflection and ideas to tune-up. We keep in touch, thank you for sharing this experience.

Moments of reflection and ideas to tune-up.

True. I thought that the blackout screw up my schedules but I guess it wasn't. It help me think and reflect.

The uncertainty caused by a power outage is increasing as time goes by, and being informed of some causes is healthy.

Yeah, our electricity demands continues to balloon an we are not ready with a sustainable source to address it.

Enjoy some !PIZZA .

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Most times, we know and appreciate the true value of things when that things are no more or deficient. @juecoree ! Life without electricity is a difficult thing in 21st century unlike those days. We are all used to it including those in rural areas. Tractors and other farm equipment are also relying on electricity unlike those days when our fore fathers plant with hoes and cutlasses.

Most times, we know and appreciate the true value of things when that things are no more or deficient.

That is so true. We only find the true value of things when we can't readily access it. Life without electricity may not be what the future entails, but we need to reeducate ourselves the nomadic ways of life in case it happens.

Enjoy some !PIZZA .

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For us in Nigeria, we don't get constant electricity and it's something we're accustomed to. We just plan our lives around the lack now. Some areas have it worse and most homes have a petrol powered generator to supplement.

It is sad to hear that some people don't have access to electricity when the world's activities calls for it. My country too have remote places where there are no electricity. I do hope in the future that my people and your people will not be bother by not having electricity at our homes.

Enjoy some !PIZZA

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