Thursday, December 26, 2013

The new normal

This probably isn't going to be a popular post at this moment, but I think it's a necessary one. It's not going to be very long and I only have a couple points to make.

For many of the people still without power in Eastern Canada, life must currently be hell. Having no power sucks, and 5 days is certainly pushing it. Some residents have now started to get angry at the city, the province, Mayor Ford, for not restoring power fast enough. It's an understandable anger, but it's also a futile one; at the end of the day you're still the one with no power.

I've advocated many times on here that having a survival plan is essential. We often forget in our modern disconnected infinite growth world that electricity is not something we inherit. It is a complex system, made even more complex by the super storms and expensive energy that is becoming the new normal. I will say it bluntly: do not expect power supplies to remain stable. You must have an at least 7 day survival plan that works in your area: food, clothing, shelter. You want a supply of candles. LED flashlights that run on hand power, cranks, solar. You likely want propane torches, a stash of cash (in case ATMs are down), and numerous other items. There is no comprehensive list because every area is different. Examine your environment and plan accordingly.

It's sad to say, but if you are not prepared to survive without electricity you can not really blame anyone but yourself. Sure it's nice to say we have a right to electricity, that it's "unreasonable" to have to wait 5 days for power to be restored, that it's extremely sad that people have actually died from this event. But I have news for you: this is really only the beginning. Be thankful gas stations still have gas and that currently credit is cheap to fund the repair work or this mess could have been a whole lot worse.

The first storm has now moved on to the U.K. with the same devastating effects while a second storm is coming up which is likely to bring more modern misery. This is the new normal, get used to it, and more importantly prepare for it.

I have such mixed emotions during these types of events. The Alberta flood and Slave Lake forest fire, Lac-Megantic, this snow storm, hurricane sandy. I have mixed emotions because on one hand there is so much suffering, but on the other I have to point out that we're fucking asking for this folks. The day after the Alberta flood Alison Redford went on to announce the grandiose new plans for oilsands exports. No one has bothered to see if sucking all of the water out of the ground in northern Alberta is contributing to the dry conditions leading to increased forest fires. Canada has in general thumbed it's nose at the very concept of climate change. Well it's fucking changing, and the changes coming are going to bring with them a lot more suffering and a lot more instability.

Yet despite this when disaster does strike hardly anyone is prepared and it seems that everyone starts crying over it. Take some responsibility. Instead of yelling at that dipshit Rob Ford as if he can make things go faster, or complaining that a "state of emergency" wasn't declared (as though declaring it so makes it go away), why aren't you yelling at the governments who have valued profits over your family's well being? Why haven't you prepared for the event there is no power? The knowledge of the coming super-storms has been readily available for a long time. We thumb our noses at it.

It's only going to get worse from here on out folks. We're looking at a future with more storms and disasters, both man-made (Lac-Megantic, Fukushima) and natural. A government who puts millions of dollars into propaganda convincing you to sacrifice your family for profit isn't going to roll up as a knight in shining armor to save the day, they simply don't have you as their primary interest and even if they did the capacity and capability to handle these disasters is going to diminish as time goes on, peak oil takes hold, and the banking sector loses more control.

You are ultimately the only one responsible for your family, and how you handle that responsibility and ensure their safety is entirely on you, nobody else. It's time to face the music for our past abuses and ignorance. Welcome to the new normal.

Ice storm stories: How some Torontonians survived without hydro

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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