Can humans survive without electricity?
It's a Thursday morning in August and you've just woken up.
Actually you've just been woken up, by your phone.
It's sitting on the nightstand beside your bed and is screaming at you while vibrating, almost like a child throwing a tantrum.
It's still plugged in, though you don't notice that the little green light on the top of the device is not lit up, meaning that it's not charging.
You get up and go about your morning routine without noticing that anything is amiss, until you go to check the weather forecast.
The internet is down.
You throw a glance over at your wireless box and realize the lights are off. In fact, nothing has power - the clock on the cooker is off, the red light on the TV is off and light switches do nothing.
"A power cut, haven't had one of those in a while," you think to yourself.
You check your phone again, the wifi might be out but you still have your trusty mobile network to fall back to...
That's dead too, it seems. The little icon on the top of your screen tells you that you are not connected to any network.
That’s never happened before…
You feel a twinge of panic in your chest.
"What do I do now?" you ask yourself.
You have no way of contacting anyone.
It must be a big power cut if the mobile networks are out… Should you even go to work? Does anyone have power?
You could ask your neighbours, but they likely won't have any more information than you do... And you've never really spoken to them before...
You check your phone again.
No change, except for the battery indicator.
What does it all mean?
The world that most of us live in is a lot more delicate than we treat it.
If you have easy access to food, shelter, heat, electricity, the internet, education and health care then you should be doing everything you can to make sure it stays that way.
By easy access, I mean not having to risk your life to get those things. And unless you're a dick you probably want other people to have easy access to those things too.
The challenge in retaining all of those modern luxuries, I think, is to not take them for granted.
We need to understand where our food comes from, how medical and technological breakthroughs are made, the environmental cost of clothing and climate cost of heating and material production.
Only through understanding all of this can we really appreciate not only how amazing it is, but also how fragile it is.
For example - it is theoretically possible that a large geomagnetic storm (basically the same thing that causes the northern lights but on a larger scale) could hit earth and knock out our power stations, satellites etc...
We could be left without electrical power for years and it would cost trillions to repair it all... provided that we don't all go primal and start killing each other Lord of the Flies style before we can sort it out (some more info on this here).
Where does your food come from? How do you build a house? How does your plumbing work? How about your computer? Or the internet? What impact does eating like shit have on your body?
Chances are you can't answer all of these questions and if you can your knowledge is probably pretty superficial.
We live in a specialized world. We have to, it's the only way to advance as a society, because all of this shit is so insanely complicated.
However if you take that world for granted you run the risk destroying it all through ignorance.
Excessive consumption, wasteful lifestyles, junk food, junk information (social media & clickbait). It’s all bad for society, bad for our environment and puts strain on the fragile systems we all depend on.
But if we all educate ourselves, appreciate what we've got and most importantly help everyone else get access to that technology and innovation, we can not only preserve it but keep going and keep growing.