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Hurricane Ian Just gave us a wakeup call

Before I start I should say I don’t live in a tropical area … I have never lived through a cyclone, typhoon or hurricane. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live through the absolute fury and unimaginable energy that nature has the means to unleash. Everything from here on, is what I would like to think is a balanced perspective on the warning that nature just gave us and an opportunity to avoid some painful future lessons.

There’s no way around it, technology and engineering have become extremely closely tied to politics – particularly when it comes to energy. There is a global rush toward going ‘Green’.

It is a personal view point of mine that the transition to renewables isn’t as ‘utopian’ as the lobbyist claim. Many of the analysis only look at the product, not the end-to-end cost of production through to end of life recycling or disposal. The point is everything is skewed … to an extent even this perspective. That’s how balanced I can try to be.

But Hurricane Ian should be regarded as a case study & warning in how quickly infrastructure can be repaired in times of natural disaster. Here’s why.

Energy is life!

There is nothing more to say about it. Energy underpins every part of modern, western & 1st world life. So when nature comes barreling in at category 4 strength, winds at >240kp/h (>150mp/h – freedom units), horizontal rain, storm surges, floods, flying debris … I just saw the reports … not much is left standing.

But the when the storm passes, it’s time for the clean up to begin. Now the real (industrial) problem starts. You see the power is out, transformers have blown, lines are all but gone … wind turbines are damaged, unbalanced or even toppled, solar arrays are heavily damaged or even blown into the updraught … energy generation capacity has been smashed.

I cannot and will not claim to know any statistics about the scenario above, but it has to be said that this is a point of civil consideration.

The utopian view of 100% renewable energy, stable and ideal weather patterns is a pipedream. Tropical storms have existed before man walked the earth, they are literally a force of nature. No amount of politics or industrial transition will change it. The naivety is absurdly worrying.

When the lights go out, water gets cut off … we have to go back to basics. Water needs to be boiled, fridges need power, transportation and plant equipment needs to run. When the solar cells on your roof have been ripped off and you the grid is down, unless you have batteries, you’re going to be a pretty poor situation.

Remarkably, the gas powered generator that didn’t get flooded or destroyed outright, works …. Or sputters to life with the help of a screw driver. Now … you can start to act. Now you can buy yourself some time, and you can bring fuel in a container to keep it going.

Related: Its time to talk about energy.

This here isn’t about wanting to politicize a natural disaster or use it as an opportunity to demonize renewables, that is not the intent here. it is about reminding all of us, that nature can throw more at you in a day that you will ever throw at her in a hundred lifetimes, and that our future requires far more consideration involving present day conventional solutions, rather than placing all our bets on a future that will take no less than two decades to build … and a future that can be taken away in less than a week.

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