11 January 23

Erosion

An image of a refrigerated truck container in front of a food co-op. We lost power for about 18 hours on Sunday when a couple of thunderstorms came through overnight. Thousands of residents of Davis were in a similar situation, and in Sacramento it was reported that over 300,000 people were without power. With the power restored by the afternoon, this constituted a mild adventure. We were able to charge Pica’s phone off a 12 volt SLA battery, and then get a little more energy into the SLA battery from a small solar panel. (Perhaps the first time I’ve exercised that bit of resilience planning in an actual power outage.)

But two blocks away, our local food co-op didn’t fare so well. It was closed on Monday since they still had no power. Early Tuesday morning is when we do our weekly shopping, but the store still had no power. I am guessing the widespread outage on Sunday caused a cascading failure in the local circuit supplying the food co-op. It is the responsibility of the power company PG&E to fix the outage, but their current estimate is that it won’t be repaired until Friday night.

So the food co-op has no power, which means that the perishables are perishing. The co-op has brought in two refrigerated trucks and a larger refrigerated truck container (shown in the image above from this morning) to try to preserve the perishables. Today they opened the store for a limited three hour period, running two cash registers off a generator, and having staff members escort a small number of shoppers around the darkened aisles. Pica stopped by to pick up some staples and thought it felt like what shopping during a war would.

Note the cascading series of events. PG&E’s infrastructure is badly in need of maintenance and investment – indeed in 2020 they plead guilty to causing the deaths of 84 people in the 2018 Camp Fire which was initiated by a faulty power line. And in 2023 California is being battered with a highly unusual sequence of atmospheric river storms, attributable at least in part to climate change. Our ability to respond to disasters is diminishing.

This how societal infrastructure erodes away. We wonder when we’ll have fresh produce again.

Posted by at 09:31 PM in Sustainability | Link |
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