I cut this out of the FT on a plane recently but I can’t quite remember where it’s from. I’m pretty sure it’s the back page column by Harry Eyres.
” We are much more vulnerable now than we were during the Second World War. When I grew up we had the skills to be self-sufficient; we made our own clothes and fished, we never felt poor. Now you don’t need a nuclear bomb to finish off a country; you just cut the power off for a week.”
Totally right. Think about the consequences of no power for a week. ATMs wouldn’t work so you couldn’t get any cash out. No money equals no purchases. You couldn’t re-charge a phone; use email or the internet (so no digital cash) and credit cards wouldn’t work either (electronic). The fridge would go off and so too would the freezer so no fresh food. Doors and lifts in shops and offices wouldn’t work (largely electric). Hospitals would grind to a halt. So would tubes and trains. The TV would be off, electric cars would be stuffed, traffic lights would go out and so too would most heating systems. Add to this list kettles, ovens, CCTV, e-books, digital files, domestic lighting, alarms, GPS, RFID:it’s almost endless.
Our lifestyles are now hugely dependent on electricity but outside of essential government services almost nobody has any kind of backup in place — except of course people aged 75+ who have never totally embraced the digital era and can remember how to do things the old fashioned way.