Power Failure: Extreme Weather Failing Infrastructure

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Extreme water stress like flooding is proving to take its toll with failing infrastructure and transportation difficulties affecting millions of urban commuters. These and other crises induced by unforeseen levels of damage from extreme weather events, like those wrought by Hurricane Sandy on New York City, expose the vulnerabilities of modern cities today.

“If it works, it’s obsolete.” These words of a futurist, extreme as they are, can be selectively applied to several major aspects of our civilization today.

Eco Note:
Long before Hurricane Sandy arrived and challenged “what works” in high profile international cities, the same problems have been observed in other places around the world. In some cases, this included developing nations that are running after the same level of development as first world countries by adapting the same solutions that have worked for the latter in the past.

But the challenges of the new millennium – rising global populations, changing lifestyle and needs, and changing weather patterns – are putting pressure on the outdated solutions of previous generations. A good nutshell case of this reality can be seen in the recent onslaught of urban crises left in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. It has left within its wake eco-solutions such as the following solar power kits for homes hard hit by storms:

One of the most felt needs among hard hit NYC and neighboring city residents were the prolonged power blackouts caused by the super storm. Power stations had been flooded as well as electrical rooms in private buildings. Both overhead and underground cables were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Electrical cables on poles were hit by strong winds and falling trees while those underground were flooded. The electrical grid of the past century is clearly behind the times in several aspects:

Dependence of Increasing Populations

Millions of people relied on the existing electrical grid, with little or no alternative and independent power source. When Hurricane Sandy shut down facilities and power stations, entire neighborhoods were left in the dark and the cold. Those who depended totally on the grid became vulnerable to domestic difficulties and security threats like looting when it shut down.

Changing Lifestyle and Needs

One of the issues that were brought up in the wake of electrical outages is the implementation of the idea of public power access. Because electronic devices are increasingly being integrated into our modern lifestyle, the need for public power access to recharge gadgets was ever present. When blackouts persisted for days in post Sandy New York, people flocked to public power outlets such as those provided in cafes and airports “like cavemen around a fire,” as one observer commented.

Changing Weather Patterns

As has been mentioned in previous articles, gray infrastructure designed to cope with weather norms in the past are now being overwhelmed with new weather patterns. Increasing precipitation levels, rising temperatures, and stronger storms are shutting down infrastructure including national electrical grids, not only in the US but in other countries as well.

The new millennium may not be so new in its 12th year, but the challenges it holds for the present generation will continue to be ‘new’ so long as it met with the ‘working’ solutions of the past.

Estel M.
About Estel M. (339 Posts)

Estel Grace Masangkay is a creative writer who enjoys outdoor trips and nature activities. She is passionate about sustainability and environment conservation. Follow Me @Em23me.

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