So, as many of you experienced yesterday, Lancaster experienced its worst power outage since 1975 in the wake of Storm Desmond. From Saturday night to Monday morning (and still continuing in some areas), there was no power of any kind. And it got me thinking, mainly because there wasn’t much else to do. So here are the three things I learned from experiencing the Lancaster blackout.
- Our society is way too reliant on technology and power
So it’s safe to say that Lancaster was thrown into moderate chaos by the blackout. There were no lights, no internet; some people didn’t even have running water. On Sunday morning, there were queues stretching across Lancaster to use the few working payphones. Power is one of the things we take for granted and one of the things we become completely helpless when deprived of it. In this wake of this, I hope people (such as governments and environmental agencies) begin to think about how dependent our society is on things like electricity and take steps to reduce this addiction we have. Yes, storms of this severity are unpredictable and rare but we should at least make steps to ensure that we can lessen the damage a storm like this can cause to the infrastructure of a local area.
- You really miss the night sky
One of my favourite moments about the blackout (yes, I had favourite moments of the blackout) was stepping out of my friend’s front door, looking up and being overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the night sky. There were just so many stars, something I haven’t seen in a long time and then it hits you, you miss not being able to see stars. There is a glorious tapestry of celestial majesty hanging right above our heads but our dependence on power makes us oblivious to it (thanks light pollution). It was nice to walk home with the stars above me and some wonderful company beside me. This brings me onto my next point
- There is still hope for humanity
As I sat around my house in the early afternoon, watching the sun already beginning to sink, my housemates and I half-joked that there was probably going to be looting once the sun went down. There are those who would wish to the exploit the vulnerability nature had set upon us. Then I received a text from a friend, announcing that there was food for an event we were planning to run that needed eating. When I arrived at their home, I found the house full of people from the university society we are both part of us. And so began an event of wonderful company that really chased away the creeping tendrils of the blackout. It soon transpired that members of this university society had set up several open houses around the city for people to stop at for company, power and heat. Despite the lack of light, the atmosphere was lively and relaxed and if we weren’t sitting in candlelight, you wouldn’t have thought that there was a blackout on. I’ve said this a lot in recent blogs but the world is going through a tough time and that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. However, this doesn’t mean that humanity is screwed- there are still many many good people out there and it’s time such as a citywide blackout that really allows these people to shine through.