Climate change, blackouts and society: dress rehearsals for the future

Byrd, Hugh (2011) Climate change, blackouts and society: dress rehearsals for the future. In: 19th international Congress of Biometeorology, 5-9th December 2011, Auckland, New Zealand.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Blackouts serve as a reminder of how dependent mankind has become on electricity and the appliances it powers. Whatever the cause of a blackout, there are patterns in the consequences that take place as a result. These include not only measurable economic losses but also social consequences that are sometimes immeasurable.
This paper reviews almost 50 different significant power-outage events that have occurred in 26 countries, mostly over the last decade. The unpredictable nature of blackouts limits the collection of field data. Hence the data in this paper are collected from reputable media coverage of the events. The patterns that are analysed include economic loss, food, health, crime, social unrest, transport and inequalities
While many blackouts are caused by systems failures, there is a growing trend of failures due to inadequate energy; whether due to depletion of resources such as oil and coal or due to the vagaries of the climate in the supply of renewable energy. As we enter the period of peak oil and climate change the security of energy supply for electricity generation is under threat. Understanding the nature of blackouts is more than just a record of past systems failures; blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future.

Keywords:climate change, blackouts, society
Subjects:L Social studies > L391 Sociology of Science and Technology
H Engineering > H632 Electrical Power Distribution
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:8991
Deposited On:22 Apr 2013 15:32

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