Power-Down

Learning to live with less, being innovative and finding ways to consume as little as possible, going with the trend to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Tepco is actually cancelling some planned blackouts because people are doing well, not using more than they need. I see a lot of drink machines that have been turned off, or at least the lamps are off. Factories are running daytime only, many offices tell workers to go home early. It can be done. What does it mean for the economy? Right now, we are all more worried about the workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plants and praying for their success and health and whatever it is that one prays for when one thinks of guys having to do shifts in dark, unknown, unsafe conditions like that.

Power-down is taking its toll but so far we are lucky, as it is spring, and not too cold in Tokyo. Good citizens of Tokyo, we are all doing our part, aren't we? Some have left, others stay. How long can we power-down for? We knew in the back of our minds that something like this could happen. But could it happen to us? Are you prepared? Power-down doesn't mean no power, it just means we learn how to live with less, appreciating what we have more. Reduce, rather than stay caught up in the consume-more economy that made noone that much happier anyway. It seems Japan is once again being poised as a teacher, as noted by Crystal K. Uchino on Ten Thousand Things.

Japan has been a power-engine for the global economy since, well, a long time. This is going to affect us all. Even big media is beginning to take note. Wall Street Journal notes that everything is being re-examined:

In response to calls for conserving electricity, many businesses in Tokyo already are operating with dimmed lights, prompting some to post "open for business" signs on front entrances. The Tokyo metropolitan government turned off about half the city's street lights and many elevators in public facilities in the aftermath of the quake. Train service has been suspended on several routes because of the power shortage. Even the wattage of ubiquitous vending machines on nearly every street corner has been turned down.


Coming from a more interesting point of view, here is Bill McKibben at OurWorld 2.0:


Imagine, for instance, a nation that got most of its power from rooftop solar panels knitted together in a vast distributed grid. It would take investment to get there – we’d have to divert money from other tasks, slowing some kinds of growth, because solar power is currently more expensive than coal power. We might not have constant access to unlimited power at every second of every day. In the end, though, you’d have not only less carbon in the atmosphere, but also a country far less failure-prone.

The solar panels on my roof could break tonight — and I’d have a problem if they did — but it wouldn’t ramify into rolling blackouts across the continent (and no one would need to stand in my driveway with a Geiger counter). Such changes wouldn’t make the world safe: climatologists promise us we’ve already put enough carbon out there to raise our planet’s temperature two degrees in the decades to come, which will make for a miserably difficult century. But they also promise that if we don’t stop burning coal and oil, that number will double, and miserable will become impossible.

With Japan’s horror still unfolding, there’s nothing to do for the moment except watch, pray, and try to find some small ways to help people caught up in forces beyond their control. But the lesson we should learn, perhaps, is that it’s time to back off a little. Suddenly squat and plain words — “durable”, “stable”, “robust” — sound sweeter to the ear.



And elsewhere, such as in Germany, the anti-nuke Green Party makes strides in an important local election, sailing to power as The Mainichi puts it. Not sure anyone thinks this is going to be easy, but at least the press is trying to be cheerful.

Here is Falling by Japanese indie band Buddhistson:

http://buddhistson.com/press.html

I also liked Eyes in the Dark from 2009.

Comments

Pandabonium said…
Powerdown is coming, so planning on it and choosing how to do it ahead of time will make thing a whole lot better.

I just read that Tokyo Disneyland is holding off on reopening because of intermittent electrical service. They need 570,000 kilowatt hours per DAY! That's enough to power 50,000 homes at today's average usage (in Japan).

One could say theme parks are an artifact of the era of cheap energy.
Martin J Frid said…
I'm hoping this country will shut down the Pachinko parlours, the people who have time to waste time can play chess or mahjong instead ;)

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