Derecho revealed dependencies

James Fallows @ The Atlantic: American Infrastructure Report: D.C. Storm Edition writes about the sad lack of resilience of America's Infrastructure after the recent derecho. My mom has electricity, my sister does not. Lot's of people say "cut your whining", people used to regularly suffer heat without air conditioning, etc.

This of course is true, people suffered worse in the past. A key point to remember is that in the past, the system had not become dependent on air conditioning, electricity, refrigeration, etc. (Or in the case of winter disasters, electric and gas heating, and cleared suburban roads). We abandoned a series of old adaptations in order to embrace new technology. We no longer have ice boxes with large blocks of ice keeping things cold, daily milkmen, front porches, supplies in the cellar, and so on. So by moving from that technological state, to a new one, we became dependent on the reliability of the material and energy flows of the new system. So when the new system fails, we are in a worse position than we were before it existed, as we don't have the more reliable, but less efficient systems of yore.

There is no easy solution. The best solution would be weather control.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

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Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on July 2, 2012 8:24 AM.

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